1.17.2012

Thinking Ahead {2012} :: The Garden

Once or twice a year, you'll here the following conversation occur between the hubby and me:

C: I don't know why I give in and do a garden.
P: You said that last year.
C: I know. Why didn't you stop me?
P: {snort} Yeah, right. I told you that you this would happen.
C: Well, it's just not worth it for the time and money it costs. I'd rather go to a farmers market.
P: Uh huh. {verbal pat on the head}
C: I'm not doing a garden next year. I'm so done. Remind me of that when I talk about it next year.
P: Right.

And then January rolls around, and the seed catalogues start arriving in my mailbox and this year, Pinterest ideas have joined in the fray. I see ideas like these...

  





Or this...

...and all memory of those yearly conversations fly out the window. I must grow something. Perhaps I will grow Brussels sprouts, eggplant, or hot chili peppers - things that I've learned to eat and enjoy over the last year. I'm confident that Peter will roll his eyes and ask me why I do this to myself every year, and I'm also sure that at some point during the growing season I will look at him and ask him why I felt compelled to try a garden again, and so the cycle will continue.

However, since I know it's inevitable, I'm trying to make a plan that will keep things as simple as possible. Realistically, I know that I will never be Martha Stewart's grounds crew (because, let's be honest, Martha isn't out there pulling every weed), but since I enjoy the taste of homegrown  produce, I feel there must be a way to garden and enjoy it. The things I know for sure are:

A) I hate weeding, therefore, I don't do it
B) I forget to water unless the plants are dying before my eyes
C) I'm still using produce from the 2009 garden, so there's no reason to plant 30 tomato plants

In order to set some reasonable gardening goals for 2012, I took some time to think back about what I have enjoyed from my past gardening experiences (growing in containers), what I know I don't want to grow again (broccoli), and what I'd like to attempt new this year (sprouts and cilantro). What I came up with was a gardening wish list...

1) Look for plants that were specifically bred for container gardening (including eggplant and green beans)
2) Diversify my plants - I have plenty of containers, but I don't need to fill them all with tomatoes
3) Make a plan for the best way to use the deck as a growing space
4) Find a way to grow strawberries like the photo from Pinterest


And that's, that. Much like the infamous pasta machine, I now know what I will and what I won't do with a garden, so it's better to keep my gardening dreams small. While others are digging around their acres of land, I'll be happily content to sit on my back deck with my containers of growing things and enjoy the view. If, however, you'd like to see some of my bigger garden dreams, feel free to check out my Pinterest Backyard Garden board...

But what about you? Are you a gardener? Do you enjoy getting your hands dirty, or are you like me - looking for minimal effort that will produce a few small victories? Do you have any January-dreams that will turn into summertime gardens? If you'd like to see what's growing around the world, Tiffany provides a weekly garden link up and shares what's growing at her German homestead - always lots of fun!

Photobucket   Photobucket

7 comments:

  1. I'm itching to start planning my garden. I love the square foot archway picture. I need to go check that out.

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  2. I have always had delusions of grandeur where gardening is concerned. No matter what side of the globe we were on, my mother faithfully cultivated the most amazing garden possible for the climate we were in.

    I can remember hanging upside-down in one of our bing cherry trees, covered in juice, spitting seeds at my brother. I remember picking concord grapes for homemade jam. I remember shucking corn until I was sure I would rather die than ever see another ear of corn. There were always oodles of different herbs, string beans, wax beans, and tomato plants interspersed with marigolds to keep the bugs away. Mom's gardens were definitely among the favorite idylls of my childhood.

    However, as an adult, I have been forced to confront the harsh reality that gardening ability (of the innate variety my mother seemed to possess) is most definitely not hereditary. {sigh} Rather than a black thumb (someone who kills everything on contact), I have what my teenage son has dubbed a brown thumb. Most of the plant life around our house enjoys a slow, painful, prolonged death. There is a struggling violet on my kitchen windowsill that will be "celebrating" its 3rd anniversary in our home this coming valentine's day. Poor thing.

    Low-maintenance plant life that does not require constant attention seems to be the best way to ensure a continued existence in my home. Frankly, as picky as violets are supposed to be, it's a miracle it's still clinging to life. :)

    For my birthday last fall, I decided I wanted to do something to improve the general landscaping in our front yard. Joanie--a dear, long-suffering, garden-savvy friend-- helped me select low-maintenance, perennial bulbs in a number of varieties guaranteed ensure that I will enjoy a variety of beautiful blossoms throughout the spring and summer. I've been so excited waiting for spring this year, I can hardly contain myself.

    I have debated whether or not to torture myself with thoughts of (just a small) vegetable garden this year. With everything else currently on my plate, it is probably an unrealistic, pipe-dream at this point. I have often wished we had a local community garden or something similar that we could buy shares in and/or contribute labor hours for. Personally, I have always found weeding to be somewhat relaxing. In lieu of a community garden, perhaps I could put in some weeding time in your bucket garden, Carrie? :)

    I do want to recommend a book to you, though. It's called: The Postage Stamp Garden Book by Duane Newcomb (http://www.amazon.com/Postage-Stamp-Garden-Book-Vegetables/dp/1580621236/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326826479&sr=1-1). My mom used the 1975 edition to create the untold levels of amazing-ness I mentioned earlier. I have a copy of the 1999 edition that I resurrect every January to pet on, but have (thus far) used for little more than fodder for fantastical gardening day dreams. The author details the use of the French Intensive Method of gardening—which helps ensure that you maximize every square inch of space available. You would not believe what you can get out of a 2' x 2' plot or even a window box. Fascinating stuff.

    Also, from our own Native American heritage, Mom always planted what we referred to as the three sisters together. Essentially, she would plant a corn kernel, a green bean seed (any variety), and a squash seed together in one hole. The corn grows tall; the green beans would crawl up the corn stalk (no poles or stakes necessary); and the squash would crawl all over the ground virtually eliminating the need for weeding once it all got going. Very nice!

    Woo! This “post” has gotten totally out of hand. So sorry. I do realize this is *your* blog—not mine. What can I say, you inspire me! :)

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  3. I must be your twin. I love the idea of eating my own produce but I just can't remember to water plants and buying plant food just escapes me! It's all so confusing! And who likes the idea of putting actual blood and bone on their plants and then eating them????

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  4. Irish @ Carrie -- Carrie, you so inspire me. I did have the thoughts of planning a garden last year. I wanted to plan a community garden and share the produce all with the community food banks. Needless to say, it didn't happen. I tried to get planning and it overwhelmed me. So, you my dear are awesome for getting those plants in the ground. Congrats!

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  5. Ah yes, I was dreaming about Beatrix Potter-esque gardens after our little jaunt to Williamsburg the other day. However, since we're in VA until May, I probably won't be doing much of anything this year, except for maybe popping a tomato seedling from a nursery into a pot by my door when we get home. Our yard is just too low and too damp for a garden to do very well - it makes everything prone to fungus and diseases.... frustrating. So I know exactly how you feel... :o/ Good luck with the containers!

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  6. Carrie, the strawberries in cinder blocks are super simple -- we have some growing like that also. As it turns out, strawberries will grow just about anywhere. You can also put a bunch of them in a pot, whether it's on the ground or hanging ;)

    With all the planning and thinking you're doing this year, I have no doubt that you are going to do something wonderful with your container garden this year!

    So glad to have you linking up again. I thoroughly enjoy your outlook on things!

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  7. FBC - Good to see you again!

    Lisa - Loved reading all of your comments!

    Sophie - Twins seperated by a few years and thousands of miles, but it works. ;-)

    Irish - Thanks much! However, anyone can get a plant or two in a pot, so give it a try this year! There's nothing quite like eating your own home-grown tomatoes. :-)

    Beth - Sometimes gardens can be more frustrating than enjoyable. I mean, I LOVED the garden the first year we did it, but then we had NO issues at all. No bugs, no rot...it was perfect. The second year burned me. Pots are easy enough for me to handle, so I guess I'll stick with that, though those Pinterst pinned ideas are killing me! ;-)

    Tiffany - Hmmm...a hanging pot of stawberries...I might have to try that this year! Is it hard to keep the birds away from them, do you think?

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