Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Garden

Today's Forecast: Sunny with a high of 65 ° F

Today's post will be a journey through time all the way back to a simpler time - 2006. All right, so it wasn't really any simpler but I still had my cat and my husband still had both kidneys.

I had decided the year before that I was going to start gardening. I asked the FIL (father-in-law) if it would be all right to dig up a patch of land for a vegetable garden. Of course, I couldn't be allowed to do it myself (I would have done it wrong, you know) so he did it for me. I can't say that I was too angry about this.

So, I got my first patch of dirt to work with right next to the Smoke bush. Ta-dah!

Since it was my first garden, I followed the advice of those wiser than myself and waited to plant until the end of May. So, in early June, my garden wasn't much too look at. It was just a big pile of dirt with a few tomato plants waving at everyone from the far end.

But underneath all that loose soil were seeds - cucumber, watermelon and (way too many) pumpkin seeds. I can't tell you how excited I was when I saw this for the first time:

I had my very own pumpkins growing in my very own piece of dirt! And over the next few weeks I saw many, many more of these sprigs. I mean, one plant = one pumpkin, correct? So, I needed five vines. You can never have enough jack-o-lanterns, am I right?

Because it was my first garden, I refused to cut anything. I mean, I knew intellectually that pruning and cutting back the plant would help the remaining grow but I just couldn't do it. So, in a very short time, my garden looked like this: (I'm wouldn't be surprised if it scared small children as they passed by.)

Even though it was completely out of control, I still enjoyed it. I weeded and kept a close watch on all the new growth. And the first time I saw one of these, I thought it was just beautiful!

I took many pictures of the little beast, uh, beauty, and left it alone. Next day, one of my tomato plants was gone and I finally realized that he just couldn't stay. So, I humanely removed him from the plant and chucked him into the field.

(I don't do that anymore. Those monsters are quickly turned to goo as soon as I spot them. And they've been getting worse every year. Last year, they ate three tomato plants in one night. I'm still struggling with how to keep them away without dousing my plants with chemicals.)

So, harvest time came and I cut through all those pumpkin vines to get my five pumpkins. I was a little surprised when, after it was all done, I had a few more than I anticipated:

But still, more than enough is almost always better than too few so I certainly wasn't going to complain.

Well, I did complain a little when I had to clean up all those unnecessary vines but that's the price we pay for fresh produce.

Even with the mistakes I made, that first garden was still my best producing garden. It's funny, I've learned a lot over the past five years and I do things a lot differently now. And even though I know they're smarter choices, I still wonder if I should just go back to throwing seeds in the dirt and letting them do their thing.

Nah. One of these days I'll get the right balance. I'll keep digging until I do.

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