It is a mistake to confuse simple with easy.-Me
When my Mister and I were finally able to have a child, my parents told us that the experience would bring the highest highs and the lowest lows. It was a sage insight. And it can be applied on a smaller scale to gardening.
It is often quoted on refrigerator magnets that gardeners are eternal optimists. While I am generally a (Morgenthau*) realist, the garden brings out the optimist in me. Then there is some disappointment. But hope always returns.
The basil is going crazy!
The celery has rust.
The eggplant look great!
The tomatoes have wilt.
The beans are producing too fast to pick!
Something grazed on the lettuce…
When I speak to groups about growing I like to start with the fact that I occasionally kill things in the garden. Sometimes several things in one season fail. I don’t do this to discredit myself as a gardener. That would be a terrible opener. I do it to assure people that they do not need to have a green thumb (or anything else) to grow something to eat. I also want to prepare them for the ups and downs of gardening.
Carrots have kept me on my toes.
The first year we tried to grow carrots, we planted them with our tomatoes, in a bed filled entirely with rich compost. We tried to space the tiny seeds and place them around the plants according to our garden plan. The tomatoes had a fantastic year. We had 6 carrots germinate. Oh, but they tasted wonderful.
The next year we got more ambitious. We read as much as we could find and it all said pretty much the same thing: plant very shallow in warm soil and thin when they come up. We planted thousands instead of hundreds of seeds and we waited. And waited. Did the wind carry the barely covered seeds away? Did birds eat them? We will never know.
Ah, year three turned out to be the charm. We learned that a light cover of soil doesn’t help keep the seeds moist or protect them so we tried covering them with straw. Success! Lots of carrots. We had to thin them. It was glorious. Well, almost. They tasted awful. No sugar could be detected.
After some research about soil and when to harvest, we thought we were ready to try again. This time we would wait longer to harvest them so the sugars had time to develop. We carefully scattered thousands of seeds and covered them with a light material to protect them from birds and wind and to keep them moist. After much waiting and watching, we gave up. The carrots were not meant to be. In a family that eats a pound of carrots a day, this was a hard battle to lose.
Then I started chatting with a grower friend. He had faced some of the same battles and read some of the same advice, to no avail. That is, until he accidentally set the planter “way too deep” and got seemingly total germination. I helped his lovely family thin the fluffy carpet of sweet little carrots.
So can you guess what I’m going to try this year?
I know you’ll be waiting breathlessly for the results of my latest carrot experiment. Try and distract yourself. I’ll keep you posted.
It is worth noting that at no point did we have an empty garden. How awful would this have been if carrots were all we attempted to grow?! Consider yourself warned: don’t put all your eggs in one basket (or soil under one crop).
Chew on this
Obesity is harmful for our society in so many ways. Even the military is taking a hit.
Happy eating, Katy
* You are welcome, both of you.