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Adventures in Gardening

I thought I’d bring you along on my newest adventure:

Gardening!

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but this, that, and the other always took a higher priority or had more urgency. (7 babies in 10 years anyone?) Actually I know many women (really, I know them, in real life) who have had babies just as fast and furious as me and huge, healthy, prolific gardens right alongside, but I just couldn’t attain. I comfort myself with knowing that most of them grew up alongside their mom in her garden and that gardening is as simple as the alphabet for them.

I’ve given gardening a halfway try a few times, but never really stuck it out for a whole season. This year, I’m  going to really try. My baby is almost 3, my dog is fully grown and housebroken, and I don’t have any other big projects going on.

I thought it might be fun to blog about it, share what I learn, what mistakes I make…

To be clear: this IS NOT a “How To Garden” blog series, it is a “What I’ve Learned About How To Garden” blog series, or maybe even a “LOL What Was She Thinking?!” blog series 😉

So.

To begin: I ordered seeds from The Seed Guy, because having non-GMO, open-pollinated “heirloom” seeds is important to me, and I really think that’s part of the reason I haven’t taken my previous attempts at gardening too seriously. I always bog down at trying to decide what to plant, and how much of it, so this time I just bought a package. I’ll plant about half of what I bought, and store the rest for next year’s attempt, when I’ve learned a bit more.

Yesterday I borrowed my lovely neighbor’s tiller, and tilled up last year’s garden plot, plus a bit, because there are a LOT of varieties in the package I got and I want to try a new garden layout: irregular beds instead of rows or square foot beds. Thanks to our entire septic tank and drain field being replaced last fall, there was very little grass or weeds for me to contend with (our landlord didn’t think it necessary to plant grass and we straight up couldn’t afford it!)

Then there were the gourds. Last year, we planted a lot of watermelon. A LOT. But, somehow (I blame buying seeds at a dollar store), we grew pumpkins and gourds. By the time I realized what was growing, the rest of the garden was a very lush weed-bed and I just didn’t care. I read a bit about how they dry best right on the vine, so I let them try. We picked up most of them, wondering about bird feeders and ladles and whatnot, but the kids ended up just smashing most of them in their games. (I still haven’t asked WHAT games called for that…) There were several that lay hidden though, and they were just on the safe side of the digging and resulting mudpit of the septic tank debacle. I found them as I was tilling. Just after I burst them and scattered their seeds. So I’m sure quite a bit of my gardening this year will involve plant identification in order to get rid of the gourds before they take over!

Today I sprayed the tilled area with apple cider vinegar. I’m told it will kill any vegetation it is sprayed on, and I want to kill out what little grass and weeds are there before I put my little precious plants and seeds in. I’m not very heavy into the “organic” label, because I know some people who have jumped through the hoops of becoming “certified” and they said it was really just an honor code and it came down to the farmer’s honesty. But I do want things to be as natural and chemical free as possible, which is why I just smile and nod when family and friends give me their recommendations for RoundUp or Se7en or what have you. I realize that they’ll have a better yield than me with my apple cider vinegar, diatomaceous earth and cayenne pepper, but for me gardening would feel pointless if I started using chemicals.

Here is what the grass and weeds that I sprayed with vinegar looked like today. I’ll post pictures of them in a few days to share whether the vinegar really works 🙂

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We’ve got cups and egg cartons full of dirt on a table in our entry, which has one entire side of sliding glass doors facing the south, and that’s where we’re starting our seeds. While they are getting their start, I’ll keep spraying the plot with vinegar every few days and I’ll till it a time or three more to get the dirt nice and soft. I’ll stop with the vinegar about a week before I set out plants, and between now and then I’ll be stringing up a few kinds of fencing: orange webbing discarded from a construction site helped a lot with keeping the deer and rabbits and groundhogs out last year (those 3 completely demolished our attempt at a garden the year before that). I’ll also string some jute twine outside that with pie pans and pinwheels and bars of Irish Spring soap dangling at intervals along it. I saw some of these deer repellent stakes at the feed store last week, and I’m trying to decide if I want to try them. (There are a LOT of deer around here, in case you didn’t know.) I haven’t made up my mind, but if I try them, I’ll let you know what I think of them. Of course, there are so many variables in this little experiment, I may never know what actually worked. But if it keeps the critters from eating my garden, I’ll feel that it was worth it all!

I also have a new-ish “weapon” in my critter-deterrent arsenal:

This fellow!

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He’s been hanging around the garden with me, and, um, “marking” it as his territory. Hopefully all the other animals with respect that? (and just because I’m so proud of his size: that’s my daughter’s soccer ball that he was playing with, and yes, he’s available as a stud!)

That’s about all I’ve got as far as a garden so far, besides a head full of dreams and visons and hopes, and ideas about where to get mason jars if I actually grow enough to can! Stay tuned, and either learn alongside me or laugh as I muddle through 🙂 Either way, it’s all fun and good healthy play in the dirt and sunshine!

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