After my successful Lasagna garden of 2 years ago, I took a year off. This year, I caught the garden bug again after visiting my niece in Wisconsin. She introduced me to companion gardening, inspired by the book Carrots Love Tomatoes. The basic premise is planting certain vegetables and herbs next to each other to repel insects and diseases.
After examining my nieces’s carefully laid out plot plan on graph paper, I decided to do the same and spent my plane ride home laying out my garden. It was flawed from the beginning but I’ll get to that.
I wanted raised beds so using the cinder blocks from my previous garden was a cost effective solution. Except I didn’t have enough of them, and the ones I did have were about 200 ft from my new enlarged garden plot. I had chosen a new sunnier spot, closer to my house, where I could monitor the goings on of deer, rabbits, raccoons and rambunctious grandchildren.
So I moved the 80 cinder blocks to their new home…..one cinder block at a time. Son Tender Heart took pity on me and loaded up the last 20 in the wheel barrow so I only had to place them in their designated spot. Son Giver Man was kind enough to take me to Home Depot to purchase the remaining 100 cinder blocks still needed. Off loaded them to the side of the garage (can’t maneuver a large truck back to the garden), then carried them one by one, back to the garden.
My garden walkways were given high priority as I wanted at least 2ft between raised beds for easy weeding and tending. Once I set the blocks defining the pathways, I ended up with fewer and tinier raised beds than my plan showed. What the ?
It didn’t take me long to realize I had neglected to take into consideration the width and length of the cinder blocks when designing the garden. DUH! I modified some of the walkways to make it work.
In the mean time, I had planted all my plants from seed in the house….some where around 130 plants. Some were already up 2-3 inches up so was under the gun to finish the garden.
Next to go up was the netting around the garden. Deer can jump incredibly high so I purchased fourteen, 10ft PVC pipes, placed them around the garden and pounded each one 2 1/2 feet in the ground. My brother-in-law drilled holes in the pipes so I could zip-tie the netting to them. I buried the extra netting under some pavers I had around (more hauling). I filled each raised bed with peat moss and bags and bags and more bags of vegetable soil mix. Finally! Time to plant!
My indoor starts had clear instructions on how to slowly acclimate the plants to the outdoors which I quickly discarded. I was approaching the end of May and didn’t want one more day to pass without those plants thriving in my new garden plot. That impatience came with a heavy plant casualty rate. What did survive were my sugar snap peas, a few corn plants and two tomato plants. My only option at this late date was to purchase and plant starts from my local home center.
Two broccoli plants here. A kale plant there. Some strawberry plants. Some rhubarb. Four cucumber plants so I could make my planned bread and butter pickles. Since I had already blown through my $400.00 gardening budget, there wasn’t much left to supplement my near empty raised beds. Still, I diligently watered until…….
The sudden death of one of my sisters necessitated a prolonged trip to California. In my absence, the garden was forgotten. Upon my return, the plants had either gone to seed or had “become one with the earth”. The exception was the strawberries, cucumbers, sugar peas and tomato plants (no tomatoes).
Two visiting grandchildren from Arizona kept my schedule packed solid for 2 weeks. The day after they left, I flew to Wisconsin for a month to help my sweet 96 year old Mother-in-law rehab from a broken leg.
On my return, the garden resemble the Sahara desert with a few blotches of green dotted about. The strawberries are doing well, shooting out tons of runners. My cucumbers are almost the size of footballs. My tomato plants are hanging on for dear life and have quite a few tomatoes on them, despite my complete neglect of them. It is like they were saving themselves for me, telling me it’s ok, they understand. When I pick one, inhale their fragrance, and savor that rich tomato flavor….like how tomatoes are suppose to taste, I take heart. Next summer will be better. I will be more patient. Hopefully less busy. I can’t wait to start!.
P.S. This is my niece’s garden. The system works with a little love, care and WATER!