Thursday, March 31, 2011

gardening: starting simple

I have a confession:

I love to garden, but I'm kind of bad at it.  

Last year, I planted scads of peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, etc, and none of them were harvested or eaten, because I quite simply forgot about them.  My excuse at the time was that I was busy with two kids, busier with work, and the garden was around the back corner of the house, so it was out of sight and out of mind.  

I'd like to do a little better this year, starting with scale.  

Instead of planting a dozen each of a dozen different types of plants, I'm going to stick with just a few plants each of a couple different varieties.  Just a few of our most-enjoyed vegetables, one or two herbs, and possibly a fruit like strawberries.  The idea here is that if there is less garden to mind, I will be able to make the time to care for it properly.  

With that in mind, I'm thinking of growing a cucumber vine, a runner bean or pea bush, the strawberries, and a few types of mint for tea.  That isn't many plants at all, and should be perfectly manageable, even with a preschooler, a toddler and a newborn to watch out for.

Secondly, the garden location needs to change.  

Last summer, the only glimpse I got of our poor, neglected plants was when I chased one of the kids back into the fenced in part of our yard, where 99% of our time is spent.  

This year, I'd like to incorporate our garden plants into our living landscape.  Cucumber vines and bean bushes should grow well against our yard fence, spearmint and peppermint will do well in containers on the porch where there's a bit of shade, and I'm thinking of trying the strawberries as a border plant around the porch and down the side of the house, and possibly in a hanging basket or two.  

If the plants are worked into our landscape, they become much easier to care for.  For instance, I don't have to leave the children inside the fence to go out and water, weed, or tend plants.  Also, the plants will always be in view and I'll be able to tell at a glance while walking from the car to the house if anything needs attention.  The only drawback I expect to see is the death of a few plants by my well meaning but not-so-gentle-at-times little ones.  We'll try to combat their over-loving the plants by giving them their own growing space and their own seeds to plant.  They love to play in the dirt, and hopefully they'll learn a bit about being gentle with fragile plants in the process.

Now it's just a matter of waiting on the darn cold weather to pass so we can get out there and plant, plant, plant!

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