What to do when your first garden flops? Try, try again. Keep trying.
I have so much to be grateful for lately.
Well, not just lately, but all the time. But I notice it more lately.
I’m still reeling for the (predictable) failure of my first garden. For a lot of newbies, I think such setbacks — from the insanely gigantic weeds to the bugs — might be major enough to put off the whole gardening thing for an entire year. But we have so much available land that I don’t have to worry about treating the same spot over again, reinfusing the soil with nitrogen and ridding it of bug eggs and weeds and whatnot. I just stroke Mr. Jon’s arm and ego and ask in my prettiest, sweetest voice to please make a new garden somewhere.
I think some of the people in my life are surprised that I’m tackling a second garden with so much gusto. To be honest, I’m a little surprised myself. But one of the most energizing aspects of starting over is that I’m fully equipped with knowledge of my own failures and shortcomings. So here’s the stuff I’m zooming in on most in the second garden:
1. Mulching. Mulching mulching mulching. Mulch is magical. Mulch makes your garden look pretty. It suffocates weeds. Plants stay nice and cool. The dirt never dries out, even when it’s 90-something degrees outside. Best of all, it makes the garden look oh so pretty and organized and like you actually know what you’re doing.
2. Stakes for Climbers. In my last garden, I had a Medusa’s tangle of squash and cucumber vines gone plumb crazy. They would literally knot, which really sucked. In this garden, I’ve got eight rows of climbing snow peas, and climb they will. The first thing I did after planting those babies was set up fencing stakes at row ends. I’ll string wire across and give them a kind of floating wall for their upward reaches. I’m also experimenting with tomato cages for the cucumber vines. I’ll weave and twine ’em as they grow. (If anyone has done this before, please leave a note in the comment section and let me know how it worked for you!)
3. Pesticiding. It’s not a concern yet, but I know will be. During the summer, I definitely got lazy with my spraying. For some reason, I thought I could trick my bugs by spraying only occasionally rather than daily (and especially after rain storms!). Fast forward a few months: you can’t. Bugs are really, really persistent.
The past few days I’ve devoted almost exclusively to mulching and planting. I’m doing the same newspaper thing I tried earlier this summer. It worked really, really well, and it’s the most cost-effective way to go about a mulch base, if you can nab free newspapers from local libraries and post-offices and what not. The first time around, I waited until the plants came up and settled to lay down mulch, and this was a huge, huge major mistake. By that point, the amount of labor involved in weeding before mulching was so time-consuming that I was never able to get on top of the job. This time, I simply marked where I set down seeds and went ahead and mulched around those points. The result? Weeds be stiffed.
The mulching job took, oh, a week or so. It’s not the most fun job in the world, but it’s nice to see such physical progress accomplished by the feat of my own hands. And I pass the time by listening to This American Life on my iPod, which I love.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Lovely, right? I think so!