Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gardening is Not for Quitters

My new concrete block planter--hopefully pest proof
 Hubby and I have had a garden for going on nine years.  Our first garden was in a fenced yard in the inner city. Our biggest problem was weeds and keeping it watered.  We could grow almost anything and it always turned out big and healthy.   Those were a glorious four years.

Then we moved to the suburbs where our backyard butts up to woods, no fence, and surrounded by farms.  Our woods are crawling with deer, bunnies, opossums, skunks, wild turkeys, ground hogs, and a whole host of what one would consider garden "pests."

My first attempt at gardening in our new house was a complete success due to Hubby liberally applying Liquid Fence, a liquid that you spray on your plants and it repels animals with its stink.  Its key ingredient is putrescent egg solids.  Sure, I only grew green beans, tomatoes and zucchini, but they were yummy.

My second year of gardening was a flop due to excessive heat and lack of water.  Mainly, my inability to remember to water the garden on a regular basis.  I decided to try adding brussel sprouts and broccoli to my garden.  Within a week some creature discovered said plants and ate them to the ground.  Not a speck of green was left.  I replanted and made liberal use of Liquid Fence and planted marigolds around the boundary which is supposed to detract animals, yet the animals still ate my plants!  I gave up and concentrated on the tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini that the animals seem to leave alone.

Garden with a marigold border
My third year of gardening saw my tomato plants looking lush and green, tall and promising.  Until blight set in. The leaves developed black spots and looked disgusting.  I did still manage to get a good bounty of produce, but not as much as that first year.  That year I tried growing lettuce and carrots.  Ha!  I may as well have set out a sign that said "Rabbit buffet."  I also tried growing tomatoes in a 5-gallon bucket in my sunroom.  I read online that this works, that the plants don't need to be pollinated.  My internet sources were wrong.  While the plant grew nice and green, no fruit grew.

Indoor container gardening attempt--resounding failure
My forth attempt was the summer of mosquitoes.  Every time I stepped out the door to do any sort of yard work, to do any sort of harvesting, a great cloud of mosquitoes descended upon my person and covered me in giant mosquito bite welts.  Needless to say, my zest for gardening waned.  I also learned about straw bale gardening and had to give it a try.  My lack of success led me to the realization that I am not a straw bale gardener.  My garden did produce a respectable harvest--I was well supplied with zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, hot peppers, and herbs.

So much promise, so little success
This is my fifth season.  You'd think I'd give up after so many failures, but I am determined.  This year Hubby picked out sugar snap peas and brussel sprouts.  I doubted his decision but went along with it.  I bought rabbit fencing a few years ago but never got around to installing it.  This year I did.  I planted all the brussel sprouts and peas in the same area and surrounded them with fence with the hopes that the critters won't destroy my plants.  Hubby built me a nice new concrete block planter that should be pest proof, but I'm not holding my breath.

Joy showing off our fenced in garden plot
Every morning I check on my plants and am happy to see them still standing.  And then four nights ago I was out checking on my garden when I saw it.  Eating a leaf on a brussel sprout plant.  A SLUG!  I took into account every big creature, have used Liquid Fence and regular fence.  I have babied those plants.  Only to be taken down by a slug.  Grrrr!!!!

I did some internet research and found a few ideas to deal with slugs.  I tried spreading coffee grounds around the plants, but that didn't do anything.  Next I tried surrounding the plants with pine needles.  It's only been 24 hours, but so far it seems to be working.  No new leaves have been munched to bits.

I wish I didn't enjoy fresh produce so much.  I wish I would just give up on gardening once and for all.  Every year I swear it's my last.  Yet every single spring finds me at the nursery buying new plants, new seeds, more dirt, mulch, Liquid Fence, and everything else my little garden needs to be successful.  One of these years I am going to get this gardening thing right.

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