As you may know, I have long aspired to maintaining a certain level of crunchiness in my life. I recycle, I walk or bike instead of drive whenever possible, and I really really want a hybrid. I’m practically Ed Begley Jr., for pete’s sake. (Does it make me less green if I actually typed Ed Begley Jr.’s name as Ed Helms first? I had to look it up because I was pretty sure it wasn’t right. Turns out they are not even remotely the same celebrity.)
Anyway, so as a good wannabe crunchster I have tried gardening in the past. I’ve even tried composting. But my half-A efforts never took, mainly because I am a very lazy and impatient gardener and I could never keep up with the weeds that grew from not preparing the soil properly. Some of the weeds even got to be six feet tall at the height of my backyard shame.
But, my friends, those days are gone. I am older now. I am more mature. And my skills at nagging have improved to such an astounding degree that Poor Kyle didn’t really stand a chance at *not* making me a square foot garden box.
And so it happened that last month I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams: to plant a square foot garden. As a bonus, the box is even raised to about waist height, so the level of exertion I put into my daily gardening is about zero.
Here it is about three weeks after planting. The top row is, from left to right: sweet elite tomato (with basil in the box to hopefully ward off bugs), snow peas, green beans, orange pepper, cucumbers, and FS-100 tomato plus basil. Bottom row: marigolds (for pest-deterrents), beets, chives, cilantro, yellow pepper, and radishes.
We (and by we I mean Kyle, of course) used the plans illustrated here on Instructables (great website). It cost about $100 in materials and about $100 more to fill it with the special Mel’s Mix that is supposedly like crack for plants (but that mix will last forever in the box, so it was a one-time purchase). It wasn’t big enough to plant everything I wanted to grow, but my gardening history is so unpromising that we decided it would be better just to start small and then build more boxes next summer if we have any degree of success this year.
Plus I bought a bunch of cheap planters for the deck that I filled with leftover Mel’s Mix, and I’m hoping that will extend my harvest a little bit. I’m not sure if they’re big enough to get any real produce out of, but it was a fairly small investment so if it fails I’m not out too much money. (Emotional investment is another story: I tend to take it rather poorly when my plants die.)
Please excuse our deck that is in desperate need of refinishing and instead focus on the pots planted with lettuce, broccoli, basil, strawberries, onions, more cilantro, and more peppers. Not pictured: citronella plants (hoping they’ll help keep mosquitos away from the deck) and a potted mint that is seriously thriving. If you want to feel good about yourself as a gardener, plant some mint. It seems impossible to kill.
Also not pictured: the five raspberry starts that a friend donated to my cause. I probably won’t get berries off of them this year, but they are already sprouting little offshoots and looking very healthy, so hopefully I’ll get some next year.
In more aesthetic news, I also bit the bullet and spent another almost-$200 on flowers for the front yard. I feel like they look so pretty when I’m standing there, but in this picture they look a little sad. Oh well; they make me tremendously happy all the same.
The purple falling-over potted plant in the bottom right corner is lavender. I thought I’d be all fancy having lavender on my front porch, but I realized I don’t actually know how to care for it or what to use it for. It seems happy but I need to figure out how to give it more support. Maybe I need to plant it in some actual dirt? Anyone know how to care for a lavender bush? Or what to do with it once you have some?
The highlight of my front yard flowers was buying two hydrangea bushes from Costco (pictured near the middle of the photo, just above the potted plants at the start of the walkway). I think hydrangeas are some of the most gorgeous flowers in the world, and I’m really having high hopes that I will get some blooms from these. I don’t know if I’ve given them enough space, but they’ve been there for about three weeks and are budding new leaves, so I’m guessing they’re happy enough. But no sign of any blossoms yet.
Anyway, that’s my gardening update. I once thought that since I was so bad at gardening I would probably be equally bad at parenting. Turns out that neither one is quite as hard as I’d assumed, especially with the help of the internet.
Then again, those sound like some pretty famous last words…here’s hoping that my plants and child live through the summer.
p.s. After much deliberation, Poor Kyle and I have decided to tear out the three giant poplar trees in our front yard. I have always loved their beauty and shade, but Kyle has always hated their sap pustules and leaves. A part of me feels like the worst hippie in the world for cutting down mature shade trees that really are very stunning, but from everything I’ve read they are kind of like the pinky toe of trees: weak and not good for much of anything (besides shade and photosynthesis, I guess). They really do make a huge mess every time we have a wind storm, which is weekly in Mayberry. I’m rationalizing this decision by vowing to plant something better in their place.
But I’m still a little sad about it.
Especially since the tree man said that I would probably lose most, if not all, of my flowers in the process. I guess they don’t stand up well to giant tree limbs falling on them. So that’s a bummer.