Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Vegetable Garden

I'm really trying to get into the domestic thing as a stay at home mom.  What better way to be domestic than to grow my own food?  In my fantasy, I see Baby and Baby2 helping Mommy lovingly tend her garden, digging out weeds and showering the plants with the gentle spray of the garden hose.  We wear cute little garden gloves and big floppy hats to protect our hands and our skin.  Mommy inspects the plants while Baby and Baby2 watch and learn with rapt adoration.  We harvest them and make beautiful salads that we post on Instagram for everyone to ooh and aah over. Oh, and don't forget the sappy background music.   

Yeah, yeah.  I can dream.

So I wanted a vegetable garden.  I had never had a vegetable garden before (unless you count one lonely tomato plant that produced maybe two tomatoes in its life span).  This time I was serious.  Right after Baby2 was born Husband took some time off from work to help out.  Thus, I figured it was the perfect time to start a vegetable garden (translate to: Husband is around to do manual labor).

I consulted Gardener Google for the easiest vegetables to grow.  Since this was my first time, I wanted to keep things simple.  Then I narrowed it down to items my family would actually eat.  I made a list and sent Husband (and his mom who was visiting at the time) to the store while I stayed home to recover from giving birth.  

They came back with starter plants of zucchini (this had not been on my list), tomatoes, strawberries, cucumber, and watermelon (also not on my list).  They had seeds to grow radishes, carrots, and lettuce.

Husband built me a raised garden bed (which I made him move because I changed my mind as to where it should go.  What a great guy to put up with me!), and Baby "helped" me plant everything in the soil.  She was super excited to use a trowel (oh, I forgot to mention I had bought her a cute princess gardening set with trowel, rake, and gloves).  However, I had to reign her in because she wanted to grab everything from me and do it herself.

Then I waited.

I had a few strawberries start to ripen, but then they disappeared.  After surveying any friend who might know why, I came to the conclusion that the local black birds have been stealing them.  I found a screen to put over the strawberry plant, but so far no more strawberries have grown.

It was very exciting to watch the plants that I had started from seeds start to poke through the surface.  Then they just seemed to take off and grow bigger and bigger every day.  Baby had fun checking on the vegetables with me each day and wanted to water them for me.  I let her hold the hose to water them, but she didn't understand that she didn't have to pummel the plants with the water.  I'm still trying to teach her to be gentle, but her three year old self thinks she knows best.

My lettuce plants were starting to grow at a nice pace when slowly they started disappearing.  A plant would pretty much disappear over night.  It was devastating to come out in the morning and see a few sorry looking chewed off pieces of green barely poking through the soil where before had been a luscious mass of leaves.  For the longest time I couldn't figure out what was making my lettuce disappear.  And quickly, too!  My lettuce sprouts were practically vanishing right before my eyes.  I did find one caterpillar on a leaf, so I'm going to attribute it to caterpillars.  I'm in suburbia, so no rabbits or other small animals are around to munch away.  I got some diatomaceious earth and sprinkled it all around, and also some SLUGGO (to get the slugs that were eating the leaves off my watermelons).  I think it worked for a bit.

The first crop I was able to pick were radishes.  The leaves were starting to look pretty large, and so I Googled how one would know when they were ready to be harvested (Really, they are underground.  How do you know if you can't see them?  Like potatoes!  How do you know when they are ready to be unearthed?).  Google said to feel in the dirt to see if you could feel actual radishes just below the surface.  Out of all the plants I had growing, I found two ripe radishes.  Apparently I planted the rest of them incorrectly and they didn't grow into the nice round radishes they were supposed to.  Instead they were more like measly radish sticks.  The ones that had turned a nice red I ate, and the others I discarded.

My tomato plant has started to grow more and more every day, but so far I only have two tomatoes in the green stage.  One might say, "Yay, two tomatoes!"  But then one would look at my parent's tomato bush, planted around the same time as mine, and notice over thirty tomatoes making their debut.  Then one might say, "Boo, two tomatoes!"

It's all about perspective. 

My zucchini and cucumber are taking off.  They have these gorgeous yellow blooms that I'm hoping will turn into the actual vegetable sometime soon.  Although I did notice that my zucchini is getting its heads chopped off, like I noticed on the strawberries.  I'm hoping the diatomaceous earth will rectify that situation.

My carrots are starting to grow taller, but not tall enough for me to notice anything orange underneath all that green.  I'm hoping I didn't mess up on those like I did the radishes.  My watermelon is starting to grow a tiny tiny bit at a time.  Hopefully that will take off soon.  Perhaps I'll have watermelon by Thanksgiving, at the rate it's growing. 

Overall, I'm pretty proud of my garden.  It wasn't as hard to start up as I thought it would be (thanks, Husband!), and I'm actually growing something.  I'm slowly moving into this domestication thing. 

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