Now is the summer of our discontent.
Learning comes in fits and starts, I’m aware of that. Well it’s time for a fit.
I suck at homesteading! UGH! My air-locked jars of carefully submerged pickles do a much better job of growing mold than I do growing anything other than mint in the garden. And to make matters worse, yeah, my pickles are OK. But I don’t LOVE them, and neither does my family. I feel like if you’re going to go to all the work, you need to love the end product.
I’m more or less failing at pickling, but not completely. The fail is in the fact that there’s no point in my doing significant amounts of it. The only thing that might be worthwhile was the jar of pickled green beans I made (not from our own garden green beans, unfortunately). Those are crunchy and pretty tasty. But it’s not like we’ll be eating them at every meal.
I spend substantially more on creating my garden and failing at growing stuff than I would have if I just went out and bought the things. I have recognized this reality as it applies to tomatoes some time ago. But it also seems to apply to the rest of the garden.
Let me back up a sec. So yeah, my garden. It’s a 4×4 square of strawberries adjoining a 4×8 square of mess. The strawberries actually grew just fine, but the chipmunks ate them all. ALL. And I love the chipmunks. So I’m not going to begrudge them their survival skills. Which are better than mine. Clearly.
I know late summer gardens carry a high risk of looking like crap, if you didn’t keep up with the weeding, which I didn’t. It’s kind of hard to keep up with that mint. Actually at least we’ve used the mint now and then in a glass of water.
I tried to keep my garden expectations low this year. Planted a few brussels sprouts plants, a bunch of green beans, and a row of celery just because we saw celery plants at the store and wanted something green in there. Later on, my husband came home with a couple pepper plants. Now, the green beans did alright. But we only harvested a couple pounds at most, and only ate a few handfuls. So that was just a big waste. And that seems to be the pattern. I want to do this stuff, but if I even manage to get to the point of an end product, there’s a 50/50 chance it will go to waste.
This was a really weird year, weather-wise, so the brussels were confused, I know that. But my friends who planted just random stuff all over their yard in random places, way later in the season than I did? They’ve got cucumbers. They’ve got bundles of basil drying in their basement. Today I ate the one little weirdly-shaped cuke I grew. It was delicious, but I didn’t feel very self-sustained.
I’m not giving up, but I’m certainly feeling frustrated today.
With the fit-throwing out of the way, I spent a few hours cleaning up the garden. I’ve got some carrot, lettuce, and pea seeds coming, and though it’s cutting it pretty close for the carrots, I’m going to try for a second harvest. Even mostly bare, though, it looks better than it did yesterday.
So, reasons this garden may not be working. Well, probably sun exposure. It’s the spot the previous home owners had their garden, but there’s a big hedge next to it, and that’s got a couple problems associated with it. First, it does some shading. Second, it’s well-established and encroaches very quickly into the garden. It’s not helping me keep things looking nice to have to do that much cutting back.
Drainage should be pretty good. The surrounding land is pretty acidic with all the pines in our area, but these raised beds are filled with soil I brought in, so that shouldn’t be a factor.
Could also be that I planted things at the wrong time. Some years, this garden does awesome. So I guess for now, we just go for the second planting and see what happens.