Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
Growing up with Kimara as a mother, you would think I had a natural green thumb and that I loved getting dirt under my finger nails while digging through softly turned soil. NOPE. Somehow that gene completely skipped me. I wanted nothing to do with my mom’s lovely perennial gardens while growing up. Sure I could appreciate how lovely they looked, usually half wild and meandering (much like Kimara) but I detested working in the garden. For all the tom-boy that I was (and still am), I HATE getting dirt under my fingernails, I am so not a fan of bugs, and a fresh batch of wood chips just looks like a giant pile of splinters to me.
But as an adult I have had this desire to grow my own veggies. I’ve wanted a sweet, orderly, kitchen garden, with rows, and order, and purpose. LOL. I think this says so much about our personalities. Tending plants that give something back I find deeply satisfying. So the front of my house is home to a handful of hastas and day lilies that require almost no care on my part… but in the backyard I’ve slowly been working on my kitchen garden.
I tried the whole veggie thing several years ago but ran into one major problem. A very large problem with an enormous appetite. Deer. Our backyard is essentially a deer highway serving as a prominent pathway that they use to cut through to the pond on the other side of our property. When the kids were young we planted a lovely starter garden and the kids were all excited to see the young sprouts poking through the ground. We left for a long weekend only to return to the top of every single plant eaten down to a nub. There were tears from the kiddos and I abandoned the task for several more years.
You can read more about that experience here… Planting in the Hoof Prints
Last year I was determined to try again. This time I researched how to keep these pesky, long legged vermin, out of the garden. For our area a 7-8 foot fence was recommend. The problem being, our neighborhood does not allow for permanent fences unless it is around a pool. So we had to come up with a temporary, seasonal, tall fence. We used 8 foot garden stakes, driven into the ground about 1.5 feet. We place them so that they stuck out at angle (which was supposed to help counter act the fact that we were only going to end up with 6.5 feet of height). Not wanting to spend a ton of money on what might have been a (literally) fruitless endeavor, we planted a small garden last year just to test out the materials. Would the deer netting actually work? We were happily surprised that it was very successful until the last few weeks in the fall. It kept the deer out of the garden while we harvested strawberries and cucumbers all summer long. It worked fairly well until a neighbors dog ran into the fence and knocked over part of it. When we fixed it we lost some height. Then the pesky pumpkins decided to climb up and out of the garden which added more strain on the fence and created areas with severe sagging. Towards the end of the fall season, the deer finally broke through and ransacked the last of our pumpkins.
Last year’s trial garden was planted haphazardly and mostly tended by the kids. We had no idea what we were doing. The spacing was way off and I never thinned the plants like I should have. This combined with our top down water method led to powdery mildew. My trellises were insufficient and I will never again plant pumpkins anywhere near the rest of the garden. I spent a ton of time just trying to keep them from taking over. But we had fun and learned a few valuable lessons. We also ate strawberries every morning for breakfast and snacked on cucumbers every afternoon.
This year I am excited to try this whole vegetable garden thing in earnest. We have invested in a much sturdier, removable fence. We have built boxes for the beds, brought in 5 cubic yards of nice composted dirt, and added our own compost we had going all last summer. We bought soaker hoses for more ideal watering. Maybe most importantly we have an actual planting plan draw up, complete with ideal row spacing and such. 😉
Although I still don’t really know what I’m doing, I figure the only way to learn is to jump in and research as I go. I plan to share our garden notes here.