The almanac says it is time to start planting for the fall, but the thermometer says it is too doggone hot to move. Compromise. Projects go forward at a snail’s pace. (I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the standard speed around here anyway.)
While we and the snails press on, I have put some thought into what my next step should be. Back in the spring, when I first laid eyes on a bare scrap of dirt just off the back porch, I wasn’t thinking in terms of volume. I just wanted a little patch of earth where I could scratch something out. Baby steps, I told myself.
Just a few short months later and I’ve learned a thing or two…
While not taking on too much is commendable, there is such a thing in gardening as starting out too small. Bugs, fungi, weather, caterpillars and a host of other factors can result in starting all over. I lost one of my two tomato plants to a fungus, and the battle with caterpillars over our bell pepper is constant. While quantity is a bit intimidating, I need to be able to plant extras to ensure that at least a few of whatever I’m growing survive the season.
Another issue I neglected to take into full consideration is access to sunlight. It wasn’t until I started this little gardening experiment that I realized how big an issue it really is on our property. Shade falls in places where it didn’t ten years ago.
Most of the vegetables we would actually like to eat — tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, okra — need a good bit of sun. The small bed holding my tomato and bell pepper is not going to work in the long term if we want an appreciable harvest. It’s too small, and it’s in the shade too many hours out of the day.
Container gardening is an option I am considering for some plants like tomatoes. However, not everything is suited to growing in pots. We came to the conclusion that a bed in a better location is necessary. There is a large bed around the back perimeter of our house where the hydrangeas and tenant spider live. But that area also has sunlight issues.
So even though I promised myself, and Sam, that this would be a small endeavor, I have begun work on a brand new bed for the fall. Rather than work myself to death, I am taking advantage of a somewhat bare area that marks the spot where a plastic kiddie pool used to sit. There’s much less to clear off there. The weeding and pulling up stray grass runners can be done by hand.
I’ve had “helpers” working my new spot the last couple of evenings. “Managers” might be a better term as there was very little actual assistance provided. And since we’re trying to be authentic, legit gardeners over here, we have now started a compost bin.
The new spot is not as level as I would like. Hopefully this won’t turn into a crash course in terrace gardening before the summer rains have passed. Steep curves are something I’d like to avoid right now — both in gardening and in learning.
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