One week ago today I went home for lunch, and took my seat at the table on the patio to eat. This table sits right next to my Spring garden bed, which holds my lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, carrots and beets. I put everything out between mid-March and mid-April, and it’s now the beginning of June. I cast my gaze onto the garden bed and forced myself to really look at it, and wallow in acceptance of a truth I’ve attempted to deny: it’s a failure.
I had high hopes for that part of the garden this year after having a crabapple tree removed last August. I thought for sure it would get enough sun this year and flourish. What I have been forced to realize is that the crabapple tree was not the culprit of the shade – it’s the giant tree at the back corner of my neighbor’s yard. A tree that I can do nothing about. The sun starts to cross over its upper branches in early afternoon, casting the garden into shade for the remainder of the day.
The lettuce was starting to look good a few weeks back, but it hasn’t grown much since. The spinach plot (as with most of the rest of the garden bed) has been completely overtaken by weeds and there are no more than a few sprigs of spinach peeking through. The half of the radishes that weren’t big enough to harvest with the first round have been in the ground so long that they’ve grown flowers and started to go to seed, and still the radishes underground on many of the plants are barely more than a fuchsia root. The ones that have reached a decent size are so woody that they are inedible. The beets are no more than an inch tall, and at this rate wouldn’t be mature by the end of summer. The kale has sprouted little baby leaves just a couple of inches tall. The only thing that seems to be doing somewhat okay are the carrots.
This is my Spring, early season, cool weather garden. Which means every single thing in it should have been matured and harvested by now, except for maybe the carrots. Instead, most of it is barely past the stage of seedlings, and the whole blasted plot is so overtaken by weeds that, at this point, I don’t know how anything could grow in it if it wanted to.
I admit defeat. This year is my last trying to make anything grow in that place, and I’ve made a decision. Everything in it has had its growth stunted and I will never get a good crop, so I’m ripping it out. Every last leaf, sprout, root and weed. And then I’m going to lay landscape fabric and rock it. If and when I finally get around to getting a grill (I rarely use one, but I’d like to have one for those occasional summer barbecues), I will put it in that spot, and use it as an extension of my patio for entertaining.
This raises a question – where will I grow those spring veggies I love so much? I scaled my yard for a location, and I really can’t come up with a good place without ruining the aesthetic of my yard. The ideal place would be the little patch in between my rocked bed, my raised tomato bed, and the other raised bed outlined in concrete blocks. The trouble is, there is a long narrow drain there for rainwater that I can’t cover up or block the flow to. On the other side of the tomato bed, it’s shaded by the large tree in the other corner of my back yard.
As much as I love my house, there are just too many large, mature trees to have a good garden. I’m limited to one section, right in the very middle of the back yard between my back door and my bedroom window, that gets enough sun for a garden. And that spot is all full now. So I think that leaves me to growing my greens in pots, like I did with my arugula this year. The arugula has also not been growing because I had it on the corner of the patio next to the rest of the Spring garden, so I moved it next to the rock bed with the other pots to get it to take off in the sun.
As for the carrots and radishes? I’m okay with giving them up. I will stick to buying those at the farmer’s market, because I just don’t have anywhere to grow them. I don’t mind the carrots and radishes so much because I don’t use them a whole lot, but beets are my favorite vegetable and I really would like to be able to grow those. My thought for next year is to maybe put those in the tomato bed, because ideally they should be about ready to pull by shortly after I plant my tomatoes.
Speaking of tomatoes – the rest of my garden is doing really well! The tomatoes have shot up quite a bit, and I even found my first two little green tomatoes on the Early Girl plant. Of course the squirrels already stole them both, but this weekend we will be building the enclosure for the bed, and then I can call check mate on the squirrels. The green beans are filling in really well, and the peas are covered in blooms and even a few pea pods.
The cauliflower are showing holes from the bugs, so I need to do something for those. I hate the idea of pesticides, but it’s really tough to grow any form of cabbage plant without it. The bugs really love the leaves on anything in the cabbage family. The strawberries have been ripening and I’ve harvested some. I’ve had some slugs and ants racing me to see who gets to eat them first, so I dusted once with food grade diatomaceous earth, which is a natural pesticide from fossilized remains of diatoms, and is safe to eat (but you don’t want to inhale!). It effectively kills insects by cutting them up and drying them out, so there are zero chemicals involved. I’ll need to dust another time or two with the rain washing things away, then those insects should be gone from my strawberry beds.
The zucchini and pumpkins have sprung up well too, and I have a tiny green pepper on one of my bell pepper plants. The watermelon are moving extremely slowly, but I do have two sprouts now. The seed was left from last year, so in all honesty I’m just glad to see any sign of life coming through the soil. I’ve also been making great use of my herbs lately…all except for the mint. I have a ton of mint and I never use it in anything, so my next mission is going to be finding recipes that I can use it in. Feel free to send some my way if you have any!
Next weekend, if all goes as planned, I will have an update for you on the enclosure for the tomato bed, with some pictures. Stay tuned!