Thursday, October 25, 2012

Garden Report 2012

Wheeew! Two posts down?

That feels great, only a lifetime more to go! (Wow, what if I really did blog for a lifetime? Who knows, maybe I’ll be 70, sitting here blogging about how I still haven’t reached my goals and how I still can’t keep up with household chores because I’m too busy with nothing in particular.)

I guess by the third post, you’ve heard enough about the blog and myself and now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of it all. (Doesn’t that sound just like dating? I remember the ‘third date’ rule in high school. Does that still exist?)

Alright, well, for the “nitty-gritty”:

Last winter, I decided I was going to have a garden.  We’d lived in our townhouse for a year, and having a whole 5x8 foot plot of land to play with was really exciting me.  Those of you who live in ‘real’ houses with ‘real’ yards probably think that a whole 40 square feet is practically useless, but trust me, nothing is useless.

In March, the ground was un-frozen enough to start digging.  I ripped out two disgusting ugly bushes that our HOA had planted.  (If they ever ask what happened to them, they died. After I dug them up, yes, but still, they died.)  I worked that dirt 12-18 inches down, and quickly learned that under a few inches of top soil was some rock solid clay (even though half a mile down the road the soil is sandy). I was pretty confident that I was given the worst soil in the world, but worked it anyway.  After I practically destroyed my hands and wrists turning the soil, I planted a few early potatoes and devoted myself to making a plan until things warmed up.

I got my neighbor friend to get in on the plan with me.  We checked out some library books about gardening in small spaces, most of which turned out to be useless (although do check out Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.  I didn’t follow his exact system, but it gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could grow lots of food in that small space, and gave me the idea of planting everything I could vertically to save ground space.)  We split the cost of seeds and two tiny tomato plants (a whole dollar each at Wal-Mart), and I planted them while she prayed that something would actually grow.

We had a warm spring, and I planted most of the seeds in mid-April, a month earlier than suggested in our zone.  By May (when most people were just beginning to plant), we had some pretty decent sized little plants.  Tomatoes, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, potatoes, radishes, carrots, and broccoli.  

Our garden in May
I didn’t use any fancy techniques or fertilizers, just stuck them in the ground and kept them watered.  I used some Miracle-Grow plant food every other week, but soon most of the plants were out of control so I stopped feeding them.  By August I wasn’t even watering them, and they just kept growing!  The beans produced and died off pretty quickly, but were replaced by the watermelon vine, which kept growing but never bore fruit.  Only one cucumber seed out of 10 sprouted, but it went crazy, almost took over the whole garden, and produced many more cucumbers than we could ever eat.  The potatoes were awesome, and having never grown them before, I thought it was like a treasure hunt digging through the dirt to find them.  The lettuce was alright, but tough and prone to bugs and stray cats.  The carrots turned out great, but took much longer to grow than expected.  The few radishes that actually produced were delicious, but I ended up planting about 20 seeds for three vegetables.  The big producers were the tomatoes and the broccoli.  The broccoli plant got really really huge and just when I was thinking it would never actually produce broccoli, it did.  It produced a lot through the season, and one broccoli plant produced plenty for our little family this summer.  The tomatoes would have been totally out of control if it hadn’t been for the deer.  They came by every few nights and kept them trimmed.  But still, the plants produced more tomatoes than we could eat, and a lot of them are now in my freezer.

In late September, the garden was just past its peak, finally giving us produce at a pace we could actually consume it, although looking quite overgrown and overwhelming:

Our garden in September
 Last Monday, realizing that the plants were looking a little dead and the first freeze would be here within weeks, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the garden for the season.  I spent all afternoon (the bonus of a small space is that it will only take an afternoon, not a whole weekend) chopping down the plants and throwing them in a pile.  But instead of throwing them away, I decided to turn my garden into a sort of compost pile, and buried all my plant waste back in the garden.  The hope is that over the winter the nutrients will absorb back into the soil and I can have a great garden again next year.  (I do have some winter potatoes still in the ground, though.)

The garden in October
I will let you know in the spring how my little compost idea turned out!


  1. I am so jealous. I totally want a garden. I can't wait until we have a house and I can have one! Was that your cucumber plant on the left hand side? That thing was huge! Next year when you plant you should do a tutorial on how to plant in a small place, then I can use it for future reference someday!

  2. I will definitely post some ideas and suggestions in the spring! If your porch gets enough sun you could probably do something in a pot. The cucumber was in the back, those huge ones in front are tomatoes and broccoli. Thanks for being my second comment ever! :)