Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Square-Futile Gardening

I haven't talked about our garden much lately. Mostly because I'm embarrassed. I just managed to kill a zucchini plant. You know how hard it is to do that?

Meanwhile, I've been hacking away at the weeds in the fourth garden box in order to plant some cucumber plant seedlings that David has nurtured on our back deck. Nurtured, just to hand them over to me so that I can kill them, too.

I know, it's a special talent of mine.

I read Square-Foot Gardening years ago; and I persist in the delusion that this method will work for me. All around me are plots which are now sporting rows of lush vegetation of the non-weed variety. Thick bushy tomato plants staked to poles, crowded beds of lettuce, stands of basil - it looks like the Garden of Eden before the Fall. In the midst of it all is my anal-looking Square-Foot demo garden, with 6 4-foot by 4-foot regulation garden boxes, 2 of which are filled with weeds that are growing with a frightening velocity toward the sky (think Jack and the Beanstalk). The 4 cultivated (barely) boxes look pathetic, with their dying basil, the already dead zucchini plant, and a bunch of tomato seedlings which, while not dying, are not exactly thriving either. It all looks like a botanical practical joke. In fact, I feel like the class clown of the community gardens.

And, yet, I can't give up. I have young children who do not realize that the visions of copious amounts of produce that dance through their heads will never be realized. Who do not understand that, merely by suggesting we grow things in the garden this year, their mother has essentially lied to them. Because she knew that success would be a chimera, a tantalizing pot of gold at the end of a blood, sweat, and tears rainbow. These trusting innocents still believe, gosh darn it, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we will end up with market baskets full of edibles; and who am I to destroy their dream? No, as long as they believe, I must continue this charade of horticultural competence. I'm just praying for an act of God (earthquake, twister, whatever) to come along and destroy our work before the kids realize it was all for nought anyway.

But, I swear, if I read one more blog with people showing off photos of their gardening successes (Barb), I may have to quit the blogosphere until the first frost. Talk about salt in my wounds...

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38 comments:

  1. I'm with you. No green thumb whatsoever. My kids miss our CSA farm, and so do I. I'm so bummed about the "no kids in the garden" rule, although to be honest, I'm not sure I could do it this year--I barely feel like cleaning the bathroom, never mind squatting in a field, weeding. But there's something about getting your hands dirty, helping to grow your own food. As long as somebody competent is in charge, of course.

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  2. AAh yes, my dreams are petering out as well. Wish I hadn't passed on the manure...
    Cucumber and lettuce are what I'm going to end up with. Not bushels of tomatoes or quarts upon quarts of green beans I've canned.

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  3. I should just post a photo of my Charlie-Brown's-Christmas-Tree-style tomato plant to make you feel better, huh?

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  4. I did square ft gardening and had less-than stellar results. Mostly because I kind of forgot about it after a while (They tell you in the book to put the garden somewhere you will see it often. Now I know why. My potatoes did really well because you just leave them in the ground until you need them. Otherwise it was embarassing. Maybe next year!

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  5. This is my first year at attempting to grow any vegetation that yield edible ANYTHING. I promise that if my jalapeno plant and my tomato plants have a successful yield, I will not post pictures. Or I will at lease warn you.

    KEEP BELIEVING

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  6. In the past I have planted bulbs upside down, killed houseplants and pulled up lovely plants which I thought were weeds....
    ....so leaving me in charge of the new veg plot could have been dodgy - fortunately my 12 year old has taken my in hand....who knows we might actually be able to eat something?!

    That's if the slugs don't get there first!
    x

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  7. We haven't even planted this year...can I still put in cukes and tomatoes? Maybe some basil and parsley? Ah, who am I kidding...it's not going to happen.
    If it makes you feel any better, we killed four raspberry bushes (my birthday present), and a giant sunflower seedling that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day...oh well...
    Blessings, E

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  8. You'll be safe on my blog. My back yard is about 14 square feet of packed sand. Nothing green dares to come anywhere near me. In fact I put down some bird seed for the birds in the tree branches that hang over my yard, and the birds won't come anywhere below the fence line. I haven't killed a bird yet, but then I haven't really had the opportunity, have I? Smart birds.

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  9. GIRL I killed everything in mine but the peas.

    The May snow didn't help. I'll post pics of my weeds if it will keep you blogging.

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  10. I WAS a square foot gardening wanna-be myself but self professed black thumb. My kiddo's even made me 13 (insanely high #) 4x4 boxes. The first two years were the best. Now I have 13 empty stacked box frames sitting on my lawn and a big old weed patch and no garden at all. I'm trying the U-pick (other people's)garden route this year. With permission of course.

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  11. Don't feel too bad, at least you planted something. You have no idea how impressed (and envious) I am that you actually have a garden.
    Despite the best of intentions, our garden never even got planted. We have a good sized area in our back yard where the previous owners had a garden (or at least planned one) complete with sprinklers.
    The weeds are growing there rather nicely. My husband just mows over them every few weeks.
    My 7 year old asked why the previous owners planted so many weeds in the garden. I'd like to know that also.

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  12. Gardening and I have a patience disconnect.

    You must read Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. It might make you feel worse about your skills, but it will also entertain and educate you.

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  13. Thanks, fawndear - that does make me feel better. Actually, everyone's comments here are rather heartening. Misery loves company, I guess.

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  14. I've found that I can kill everything except cacti...they are pretty darn tough and the seems to actually like my neglect.

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  15. With me it's the lasagna gardening craze. I thought this meant you grew everything to make lasagna. Nope. It means hauling LOTS of manure and straw and newspaper to layer your garden. I'm hating life... and I live on a farm.

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  16. May I suggest a rabbit or two? They provide pre-composted pellets, ready for laying next to your plants without fear of fertilizer burn. The spent hay and bedding (must be composted) also makes nice mulch to help avoid the weed situation.

    Other than that, you're on your own. If I can maintain a tiny garden plot through the end of August I will be back with more wisdom, but so far that late-summer greenery eludes me and all my efforts fizzle out towards the end of July.

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  17. You will find no gardening pictures at my place...I'm lousy at it. I think Square Foot gardening only works if you have the Square Food Gardener tilling your soil.

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  18. Aw, man, gardening. And all you get for your efforts is some damn vegetables. When someone invents a method for growing chocolate chip cookies, THEN I'll get interested...

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  19. Dude. The other day I came out, and my neighbor (and good friend) was watering my landscaping. I thanked her for it, and she looks at me and says, "Well, I don't want to look at your dead plants!"

    If she didn't have such a valid point, I'd be ticked...

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  20. Most of our first planting died since we got too much rain. I can barely find my strawberry plants, though they were visible a few weeks ago. My neighbors glare at me when I'm outside. they have the perfect manicured yard and are trying to sell their house. If they want to come over and weed, they can. I'm lucky to get the lawn mowed and weed the plants when they are little. Once they are taller than the weeds, they get ignored more than they should. Maybe I should mulch stuff after I weed it again?

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  21. I understand your pain. Our garden is doing fairly well, but it's all because of my hubby. Everyone locally seems to think that I have the green thumb and all these women want to ask me what my secret is. I tell them to come closer, closer and I whisper, "I found a good man who can grow things." Wiggle eyebrows.

    The down side - he insists on my canning the things he has grown. It's not so fun here around August and September!

    But if it makes you feel better - my flower gardens - totally suck. And yes, I've killed at least one plant so far.

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  22. I am a bit shocked that you killed a zuchinni (sp) plant. I think the fact that the garden is not in your yard would make it more difficult.
    I'll pray for a disaster. Will that help?

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  23. My blog is safe from gardening success stories. I'm known as The Black Thumb over here. I relate to your stories times 100!

    My daughter brought home a little plant from school that she had nurtured from a seed. I killed it within the week. Forgot to water it. Blazing heat. Oh...no. She was so sad.

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  24. plants don't like me either. but i'm afraid a twister might not solve your problems because your kids just might want you to start all over again (instead of stopping which seems to be your strategy of choice)....oh nature can be so cruel

    franzi

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  25. Dude, you can make as much fun of me as you want because I have DONE MY TIME in Texas trying to coax tomatoes out of the parched earth there. I figure my tomatoes in Texas cost me about $400 a piece. So, poke as much fun as you want because I'll just be sitting over here WITH MY MOUTH FULL of home grown tomatoes... and I cannot freaking WAIT! I've earned them and I deserve them and I'm gonna gloat about them until the rabbits eat them. HAH!

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  26. I came here from Michelle's (Scribbit) and I have to laugh. I do kill plants, but it seems this year things are growing! I have no idea why, but I am working so hard at them. I mean seriously, is it THAT important to call my mom and tell her I have a broccoli (not even a big one, just one floret!)

    heheheh :)

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  27. I read the book 60 Minute Vegetable Garden by Jeff Ball. I built the beds in the spring of 2006. This year was promising to be actually good - then I bought straw to use for mulch... and the straw was FULL of wheat seed... I wanted to scream!!!

    My broccoli is so tall it is blocking any sun from reaching my tomatoes - yeah, sure I can plant them THAT close together! and my peppers are still only 6-8 inches high... Why? yeah, i dunno!

    My trellises look very pretty, unfortunately they aren't edible, so who cares, right?

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  28. I look at plants and they die. There are no plants in our home. Hubby has been hinting for me to plant outside the home. What? Is he crazy? Does he want the plaque to continue across the neighborhood?

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  29. I could send you pictures of our hail riddled peppers from a few years back. Maybe you could pretend they were yours. I square foot garden too. It makes more sense to me, but since I'm such a rebel I turned them into rectangles. It worked till we added 4 more kids to the mix. If I had to actually go somewhere to garden, mine would never even get planted.

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  30. I hear ya! We've got pumpkins and tomato plants in our garden. They are alive, but I still can't believe they'll ever produce something eatable. I might have to buy some pumpkins and place them next to the plants in hopes Monkey will fall for it ;)

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  31. I am doing square slug gardening this year.

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  32. Too funny, you are!!! :)

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  33. Zucchini plants are easy to grow? Seriously? On whose planet? Because they hate me.

    In fact the only things that seem to grow really well in my garden are the ones I am trying to kill. *sigh*

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  34. OK, here's what you do: first, forgive me for the green thumb. I inherited it from my folks. Next, get yourself several bags of compost and toss one or two bags worth into each of your four squares.

    Depending on where you are located (and how soon winter arrives where you are), it's probably too late for hot season plants like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and melons. However, since it is now almost August, you could actually start seeds directly into your compost enriched ground for fall crops. Think about it: you can still pull off a gardening Hail Mary! : ) You can start lettuces, spinach, peas, broccoli, cilantro, parsley, carrots or anything else you should have planted in early spring that likes cool weather. Oh and you can try basil, too. All else fails bring it in when the weather really starts to cool off.

    Just something to think about. You could totally pull it off. The main thing is to remember to water everything. I sure hope your plot has water! If my garden wasn't in my backyard it wouldn't look the way it does.

    And to steal a line from a shampoo commercial: Don't hate me for my zucchini! : )

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  35. Yeah. I don't even try to garden. I'm walking death to plants... I have hope for my oldest,though... He's been gardening with his granny and seems to enjoy it. When he gets a bit older, maybe he'll take over the yard work? Yeah... probably not.

    Great post!

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  36. Ha ha...so glad I'm not the only gardening drop out! I'm just happy I could keep two tomato plants alive long enough to supply my two (small) boys with mini tomatoes throughout the summer!

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