Learning as I go

2 years ago I had work done to my backyard. I had shrubs and small trees that lined the perimeter of the yard, probably planted when the house was built in 1929, ripped out. None of them were thriving; the flowering shrubs no longer flowered and rogue trees shot up in the middle of pachysandra which was covering old tree stumps and plenty of weeds. In fact my yard was mostly weeds so I had the entire back ripped up and, starting from dirt, reseeded. With my neighbors’ help we are slowly planting various flowering shrubs and bushes to form an organic and somewhat private border between our properties.  

3 Miss Kim Lilacs planted along one side of  my yard

The neighbors on the other side of me had enclosed their backyard with a wooden fence; in the small stretch of land along their fence rather than plant grass seed I decided to try my luck with a vegetable garden. The first year, 2012, I successfully grew tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and eggplant. The crop of cucumbers and tomatoes from just one plant each amazed me; I had enough of each to give some away. Last year, I planted the same cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant; I also added jalapeno peppers, onions and brussel sprouts. One jalapeno plant yielded lots of hot peppers which went into various sauces and bean dishes. The onions never grew, the sprouts grew up and out, their thick stalks and large green leaves monopolizing about a third of my little garden, but never produced their little cabbages. I may have planted them too early but they were sold alongside all the other vegetables so in the ground with everything else they went. As you can see from the photo I started to surround the garden with a black plastic border but never got around to finishing it.

My little garden, 2013

This year I am excited to learn from and improve on the last two years of vegetable growing. The space is still small, too small and oddly shaped for a raised bed, so I thought I’d try to create my own version. With assistance from a helpful employee at Home Depot I bought wood, spikes, nails to build my own raised bed structure. I’m not one to be very organized or spend a lot of time thinking things out, just like to get started and see if what’s in my head ends up looking anything like the final project, so I got to work without too many expectations. I didn’t even think to measure the space, just eyeballed lengths of wood and thought to myself “that looks about right” when I came across two 8′ lengths. I was off but not by much. I had one of the 8′ planks cut into two 3′ lengths and was left with a 2′ length. Usually, as with this project, I am happy with the results even when they are far from perfect or might not be up to somebody else’s standards. I may be hard on myself in certain areas of my life, second guess words I’ve spoken or actions I’ve taken, but this is not one of them. 

Future spot of tiny garden. Wood, spikes, nails, manure
I quickly and excitedly got to work; I miscalculated where the spikes should be nailed into the lengths of wood, underestimated the depth of soil they should penetrate. I didn’t understand the correlation between the two until I was finished and had pressed the wood slabs into the ground. The spikes only pierce the soil for about 4″ before ground meets wood frame. I am hoping this is enough, hoping the box doesn’t fall over but if it does I’ll know how to fix the problem. Another lesson being learned as I try something new.
I raked in two bags of manure to get the soil ready for its crops. I still need to add top soil to raise the level of the bed and even out the slight slope from the fence. This should help when I water, prevent it from running down the driveway instead of nourishing my vegetables.  
Hardly perfect but I am perfectly happy
I love the idea of growing my own vegetables, not only are they always fresh and great tasting but tending a garden cultivates a creative outlet I am always looking to tap into. I love turning the soil and smelling its rich and earthy aroma. I love getting home from work each night and checking on the various vegetable’s progress, deciding if it’s time to pick something or give it another day or two to continue its growth. I even like pulling weeds, challenging myself to get them from their roots. To me this is a simple pleasure that I can enjoy for months to come. I can’t wait to start planting! 

Categories: Home, Musings

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