Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stupid garden management decisions and their inevitable results

This year I didn't label any of my plantings in the vegetable garden. My rationale was that (a) I didn't have any of the little signs I used last year and didn't want to bother getting more, and (b) I would know what everything was as soon as it came up.

That would have been really clever and thrifty of me IF some plants didn't take two weeks to germinate. A couple of the beds were still contaminated with weed roots and seeds when I planted, so in certain areas it quickly became impossible to tell what was a desirable plant and what wasn't. The task was made harder because I immediately forgot which row was which, so I didn't know what kind of seedling to look for.

Don't get me wrong--it's not a large-scale disaster we're looking at here, just a minor inconvenience. There are successes. I am proud to announce that this year I have a healthy, large crop of beets for the first time. I have been harvesting radishes, lettuce, and arugula for some time now. Turnips and kale are flourishing. Peas are starting to climb their trellis. The eggplants look healthy. And after the Big Washout that obliterated my tomatoes and peppers, the seedlings I planted to replace them are doing pretty well.

There are a couple of mounds of healthy squashlike vines that I think are cucumbers, but I can't be totally sure because I didn't label them and all squashlike vines look the same.

There are some rows I'm not as thrilled with. This morning I got out the hoe and utterly overturned the broccoli row. There was nothing there worth saving--just a tangle of invasive bermuda grass that I spent half an hour tugging out by the root. I was about to stick the hoe into the other side of the same bed when I noticed something that looked familiar. Was that...cilantro? Why yes, it was. And it turned out that on closer inspection (that is to say, me on my hands and knees with my face pressed close to the earth) there was more of it. So I spent another half an hour tugging bermuda grass roots out from between the sparse, delicate little cilantro seedlings. Then I sprinkled a few radish seeds in the sizable gaps in the row. That's my trick for gaps, because radishes don't take up much room, they're gone within a month, and you can never have too many of them.

I replanted the broccoli side with okra. I know for a fact it will grow and hold its own. Southerners don't grow vegetables because they are a platonic ideal of vegetable goodness; they grow them because they will GROW and you can feed a family on them. Turnips, collards, and okra being a case in point.

I threw in a couple rows of sunflowers before I came inside for lunch, just because I had room.

I still need to plant the beans, and I think it might be getting too late for the corn. Why do I always let this stuff get away from me? Spring goes so quickly...