Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time to get the gardening gloves out!

My one big goal for this summer is to plant and grow a vegetable garden. This is far more challenging than it actually sounds.
For starters, in spite of the fact that I live on a mountain, in a fairly rural area, I have no place to plant my garden. Our yard is on the seriously steep mountainside. It goes straight down. It doesn't matter that there is an acre of nature back there. It's too steep, and too covered in trees.
Exhibit A: Our yard last autumn.

There is a little bit of room in the front/side yard to plant a garden, but there are deer and raccoons to be dealt with. And there are already a bunch of flowers planted there.
Exhibit B:
And let's face it, vegetables in the front yard is a little awkward.
And so I am forced to attempt container gardening up on the deck. But let me explain something here, this is also not as easy as it sounds. Our deck does not have stairs to the ground on the outside. It is only accessible from inside the house, and to Spiderman, and apparently a large number of raccoons. The raccoons have been known to somehow scale our deck that is a good 50-75 feet off the ground, bypass my ever-vigilant dog, and pull my plants out of the containers.
Exhibit C:
So I've invested in bucket gardening, vertical pallet gardening, deck rail container gardening, and just plain old container gardening.
Why so many different styles?
Well, that's where this story gets funny.
Last year I bought a Topsy Turvy Garden, planted a few tomatoes, and waited for the magic to happen.
And waited some more.
Nothing ever happened. My tomatoes never grew. The end.
A few weeks ago I hired a kid to come over and do a bunch of yard work for me. In the process he found some tomato seeds, and half a bag of potting soil. I told him to toss them all in the dead Topsy Turvy. And promptly forgot about it.
In the meantime I have put starts into a few buckets, and hung them up in trees in the yard. I put in green peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries. I've actually tended to them. 2 of them are next to the Topsy Turvy, but I never thought much of it.
Exhibit D:
(I have done a lot of trimming, mulching, cleaning, and improving in this area since this picture was taken. In fact, this is a 'before' picture. I will plant the 'after' picture when my new gladiolus pop up. (Assuming the raccoons don't kill them. Again.))

I also purchased several seeds and a start kit, and planted sunflowers, Roma tomatoes, sugar peas, and jalapenos. The kit said to put in 3 seeds per disk/start, because only half tend to actually grow. For once in my life, I actually followed the instructions. And I've tended to my little start kit like a very attentive mother bird. Until a few days ago it was growing on my kitchen table, and I couldn't help but go look at my little sproutlings multiple times a day.
Sometime last week I noticed a few green leaves sticking up over the top of the Topsy Turvy. That little handful of leftover seeds has easily produced 30 tomato plants!
I have counted up the starts in my kit that have actually come through, and I have a good 30-40 more tomato plants!!
70 tomato plants!!!
Exhibit E:

Heaven help me I have no idea what to do with that many tomato plants! (Keep in mind one tomato plant can easily produce more than 10 tomatoes!)
Not to mention, where the heck you actually plant 80 tomatoes when the obvious answer of "in the ground in your garden" doesn't work! And you have deer and raccoon problems!
And so you have multiple random container garden attempts!
Oh and there are a good 20 sunflowers popping up, about 10 sugar pea plants (which I just discovered will grow to about the size of a tomato plant!), and maybe, if I am lucky, 3 jalapeno plants. I'm not even sure that they are jalapenos. They might just be more tomatoes. Have mercy!
I also planted 3 more developed (not from seed) pepper plants- 3 green peppers, 1 sweet pepper, and 1 anaheim pepper.
And did I mention the 10 strawberry plants?
Yeah, I have been a little bit busy growing stuff!
This weekend I will move all of my seedlings to their new containers. (The sunflowers are going straight into the ground. I'm not going to try those in a container!) I've started to build my pallet garden, and well, let's just say, DISASTER! Total Pinterest Fail! Hilariously bad, terrible, ridiculous FAIL! There will be a blog post in the coming days illustrating just how bad and funny that fail was!
I realize that I could just throw some of the starts away, but for some reason that feels strangely unethical, like murder or something! Plus I'm sure a lot of them won't survive the transplanting. So I'm going to give all of my little babies a chance to live and give me food!
I'm in for a ton of work this summer to keep this many plants growing, especially with so many alternative container methods! But hopefully all this work will mean enough tomatoes to make the best darn spaghetti sauce ever more than once this summer, plus a few batches of summer salsa!
But here's the most awesome part, people! I HAVE GROWN A STRAWBERRY!!
Exhibit F:
We are off to an awesome summer.

Hey You! Check out my new novels, "You Heard It Here First" and the sequel "This Just In!"

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