What I do have is a taste for homegrown vegetables, especially cucumbers and tomatoes. You know it's true - nothing, I mean nothing beats a home grown tomato! I also happen to be on the frugal *ahem, cheap, ahem* side. Bell peppers are also a weakness for me; I love them all - red, orange, yellow, even the traditional green - I'll eat them any way you have 'em, even fresh off the vine. I say it's the Cajun in me. However, those durn things cost an arm and a leg at the grocery store! I'm talking $1.79 for ONE pepper! What the heck is up with that?!
So take my love for vegetables and my loathe for high grocery bills, put them together, and voila - a backyard garden! To be fair, Alex built the plot for me - an 8 x 8 raised bed in a corner of our backyard. We also killed a second bird with that stone, if you will, when we hoped the garden would serve as a solution to our flooding problem. Fast forward to the earliest warm day after February 14th, and off we went with our garden venture!
Once the plot was ready, Alex took me to Lowe's and let me pick out anything I wanted. We ended up with an assortment of seeds and little plants of every vegetable I would consider eating or cooking with. The bounty included corn, carrots, green/orange/red/yellow bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions. If the list sounds excessive, believe me it was. A few weeks in, our plant babies looked like this:
Okay so...yeah, maybe we went a little overboard on this garden idea...let's go with over-ambitious.
As the weeks went by, our plant babies began to produce vegetable babies. It was the coolest, most exciting thing to observe. We couldn't wait to taste all the goodies!
Eventually, we did begin to enjoy our vegetables. First came the green onions, then the zucchini, and eventually our tomato crop exploded. Every now and again, the pepper plants produced, though I'm hoping those last into the winter. (I remember a friend of mine picked his last batch of peppers in December!)
Not everything produced, though. Our corn seemed overrun with some type of disease, insect, or just didn't make it due to tight quarters in the plot area. Neither did the cucumbers (though they looked promising at one point) or the squash. The green onions were eventually overpowered by neighboring tomato, squash, and zucchini plants, though I am still picking out rooted onions on occasion. As for the carrots, they looked pitiful for ages, but I'm starting to think they may turn out okay in due time. I think those are fall/winter plants and we began with those as seeds anyway, so I'm going to hold out hope on those.
Thankfully, the garden did help with our drainage issue, and I think expanding the area next year will do even more toward solving that problem. Yes, I did say next year. Next year, I'd like to double the area yet try the same plants over again. Hopefully that will give more space for the plants to grow and for me to care for them a little better. We'll also need to figure out a way to keep the dog out of the garden. Our decorative
(short) partitions didn't work as well as we thought they would, and CJ seems to have taken over, looking for cool areas to rest in this intense summer heat. Looking on the bright side, our soon-to-be-outdoor kittens may contribute to fertilizing the area for us throughout the "off" months. Hehe.
As this adventure goes, you win some and you lose some...or is it live and learn? I've definitely learned a bit, but my thumb is not quite green and we still have a ways to go with becoming successful gardeners. Working for the AgCenter means there are an unlimited number of resources at my disposal, if only I take the time to read or consult those around me...it's always that easy, isn't it? ;)