Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mary Mary … How’d That Garden Grow?

Way back this spring I decided to turn a patch of grass in the front of the house into a wildflower garden.  I had this vision of masses of flowers so colorful and so thick that it would feel like I was looking at a painting by Monet.  We got rid of the grass, brought in top soil and wheel barrow after wheel barrow full of compost, and raked and smoothed until the soil was just crying out for seeds. 

I gathered all the seeds I’d saved, bought and been given, mixed them all together in a bowl, sprinkled them all over the soil, raked them in a bit and watered.  And waited.  And watered.  And waited.  And finally….lots of things began to pop through the ground and grow and the more they grew the more excited I got imagining how spectacular this garden was going to be.  So I kept watering and watching and waiting for blossoms.    I didn't do any weeding because I was afraid I might pull up a flower.  The plants kept growing and I kept watering, but nothing bloomed.  And then one day Dean said to me, other than those couple of poppies and the four volunteer tomato plants, there’s nothing growing here but weeds. I was crushed.  How could that be?  I thought I'd done everything right.  I'd given them good soil and made sure they had enough water.   Why wasn't that enough?  I had to start over.  We got rid of the weeds and I planted already growing plants to replace my flower-weeds and those plants are doing well – so far.  I’m still not convinced all those plants we pulled up were weeds.  I have a sneaking suspicion some of those "weeds" were really flowers, but that could just be my hurt pride refusing to accept that I was a complete failure as a seed planter.

I suppose I should admit that I was defeated by garlic starts also.  I prepared the soil, gently planted all the little green shoots of garlic, watered and waited and watered and waited.  And … nothing.  Not one garlic poked its little green head up out of the soil to say hello.  It was an even bigger failure than my Monet garden.  I know we didn’t need all 48 starts to grow.  It’s not like we live in vampire land and are changing out our garlic necklaces every day.  But not one?!  Really??

The onion starts I planted came up and looked good for quite a while until, one day, they just laid their little green bodies on the dirt and never stood up again.  It looks like the bulb is growing but the plant just lies there looking limp and lonely.  I suppose that’s not a total failure but I don’t think I can call it a success either. 

I also planted beets, a couple of types of lettuce and some mustard.  Really?  I planted mustard?  What was I thinking?!  Thank God Dean didn't realize it was out there until it seeded or he would have been trying to slip slimy green stuff in everything he cooked.  The lettuce was doing well until I pulled up the seeded-out mustard, which exposed it to the rabbits, who were ecstatic we’d planted it for them.  The beets look like they’re happy and producing baby beets underground but we haven’t tried digging them up yet.

My only real success has been the potatoes (once the turkeys stopped digging them up).  They grew like, well, like potato plants.  And produced potatoes.  Which we’ve been eating.  We have enough potatoes to see us through til the next millennium I think!

A guy at the local greenhouse said he’d heard that stringing fishing line around a garden would keep deer out because they can sense the fishing line but not see it, so I put it around the potato garden and it seemed to work.  No deer tracks.  No chomped off potato leaves.  Know why?  Because I discovered deer don’t really LIKE potato plants!  Oh, well.  It seemed to keep the turkeys from scratching the potatoes up which was even better.  It’s not there now though because the other day I tripped trying to get through it and ended up tangled up in a mess of poles and fishing line.  Once I got the line unwrapped from my legs I wadded it up in a ball and jammed it into the garbage.  At that very moment turkey heads popped up everywhere, their internal radar began emitting beeps and blips and they showed up  – this time with their little turklets in tow. 

I didn’t need to speak turkey to know what was going on out there.  Listen up my chicklets.  This area has just been opened up to summer grazing but don’t forget to come back here when it’s cold and snowy because last winter the guy threw out seed – lots and lots of seed.  Until that cranky lady made him stop.  Trotley?  Are you listening?  Trotley!  Pay attention!  Stop pecking your sister.  Now follow me everybody and I’ll show you where I found a nice selection of yummy slugs.

Even though I don’t really believe it’s going to work, I deer proofed the tomatoes up front using the same fishing line system. 

Can you see the fishing line?  No?  You must be part deer.
I figure if a fishing line system protected gardens from deer as well as an eight foot tall fence nobody would have eight foot tall fences around their gardens in deer country but what the heck.  It has to work better than the two systems Dean used last year.  The first system he tried was to plant six stinky Marigolds near the tomatoes because deer don’t like to go near stinky things.  Ha!  The second thing he tried was this: 

When he realized we actually needed to use the car now and then he added more old fencing, the wheel barrow, hunks of metal, empty metal garbage cans, a huge tree stump, car parts, and any other old, dirty, rusty and ugly pieces of metal he could find.  That pretty much worked but I held my head in shame every time I walked out of the house. 

The Marigold plants that failed in protecting the tomatoes from death by deer last year, succeeded spectacularly in reseeding themselves this year and exploded into a massive orange Marigold garden.  Even after transplanting dozens and dozens of them to other areas in the yard, pots and barrels, there are still hundreds of them growing and blooming.  My little volunteers aren't exactly the vision of a Monet-like wild flower garden I had this spring, but if I can get a garden like that without even planting a seed, just think what I can get if I ever figure out how to get any seeds I plant to grow!



Art Elser said...

Did you plant the seeds right side up, Cathy? If you plant them upside down, the gophers and moles will enjoy them. Well maybe not the moles cuz they are blind, aren't they? Perhaps the mice and voles will enjoy the flowers down there a foot or so below the topsoil.

Have you thought about reading as a hobby? Go to the library, choose a couple of books, check them out, bring them home, read. When finished reading them all, repeat. ;-)

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I love your place! I'm glad we don't have to contend with deer and turkeys, but we do have plenty of rabbit damage. We had the vegetable garden rabbit proofed, so we thought, but there was a bunny in there awhile, eating some of my pole bean plants. It must have gotten in between the compost and chain link. I moved some of the compost, and we added chicken wire to that area. We almost had it caught one day. I had it between the chain link and the chicken wire, but it got free. We haven't seen it since, and the beans that were left are doing pretty well.

You could still have some seeds come up. Wildflowers sometimes take more than one season to come up, because they need to go through a winter first.

Abby said...

Maybe Trotley's Mom ate up all those flower seeds since your house is the place to go for dinner.