Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gardening can be discouraging

I have spent a lot of time over the three and a half years I have lived in my house digging, planting and otherwise altering the landscape to my liking. In the last two years, I have become more serious about raising my own food. Despite all my best efforts (and many of my lazy ones), it is still an uphill battle.

I have killed one tree only 12 inches tall because I did not water it enough. I have planted hostas that may or may not have returned the next year; ditto with phlox and a daylily. I have a half-hearted attempt at a return from one of six nodding pink onions I planted. My butterfly weed has pulled a vanishing act (hardy native plant--yeah right) and I only imagined planting all those tulips and crocuses.

However, the most frustrating is trying to grow your own food and pests have decided to interfere. My beans, mostly bush type, are looking quite tattered. I have no idea what insect is the cause. The tops of my good-looking carrots are looking shorter and more naked--is an adventurous squirrel or another animal getting through my fencing? My cucumbers are looking stunted and a corn plant was sacrificed to the appetite of one of those bunnies I see running through the neighborhood.

I put up more fencing, I tried to protect the carrots by caging them (no free-range carrots for me) and I am hoping I see some beans this year. At least the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic and potatoes are looking good. The strawberries have been nibbled on but are mostly intact.

Why do I list all these incidents? Because it can be frustrating. Weeds are a constant battle. Successfully growing what you want among items you are not so fond of is a challenge. I just keep trying at the homestead, keeping plants as healthy as I can and experiment with compost topdressing, more mulch, liquid fertilizer and judicious watering. I try to learn from my errors and try again, even if weeds get the better of me. It will all work out, right? The bean harvest just may be lighter than I hoped for.

Like my financial plans, I keep doing the best I can and examine my progress at the end of the year. If nothing else, I have shaved 15 minutes off my lawn mowing time.

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