The Hottest of Messes: Garden, Year Two

A good indicator of a person’s character is the state of their garden in its second year. Anyone can make a nice garden the first year. It’s easy. The frames are brand spanking new, the potting soil is straight out of the bag, and everything is growing in exactly the right spot. Year two is where you can separate the workers from the sluggards with a quick glance toward the raised beds. This is where we discover that I am a lazy person who does not deserve to eat homegrown vegetables because I gave up on gardening way too easily.

First of all, I waited too long to start working the garden this year because it was hot. It was more than hot; it was horrible, humid, the-air-is-too-thick-to-breathe, midwestern death weather. So I was at least three weeks late getting anything planted because it was just too miserable outside and I refused to work. If I do eventually manage to grow any veggies this year, I have to cross my fingers and hope they mature before temperatures drop in the fall.

It’s early June and we’re having an unusually cool day, so I finally went down to start the garden this morning. To my surprise, I found the garden already populated with volunteers. One whole bed has planted itself in lettuce and kale. Pretty cool I guess, but those are the two vegetables I eat the least. Why couldn’t it have been watermelon and carrots? My sage regrew on its own. And some type of flower I have since forgotten how to identify has seeded itself throughout two of the beds, taking up all the room I wanted to use for vegetables. I do have a volunteer squash of some kind, as well as a nice pumpkin growing outside the raised bed. In what we call “the lawn.” But I guess pumpkins don’t know from boundaries.

I also have one entire bed of mint. That’s right people, I didn’t listen to your advice last year and now you have proof. After everyone told me not to plant mint because it takes over, I went out and planted some. And then when you told me to pull that mint up before it’s too late, I ignored you. Now I deservedly have 16 square feet of spearmint that I will do NOTHING with. What possessed me to plant it in the first place? I mean I love mint, but what do you even do with spearmint? Pluck a sprig for your glass of spa water twice during the course of the whole summer? That’s not going to use up 16 square feet of the stuff!

garden mint
Gallon of mint water, anyone?

 

If you haven’t heard enough of my lazy gardening folly, let me tell you about my winter sowing project. Last February, I planted some cold-tolerant seeds in mini greenhouses (two-liter bottles and milk jugs cut in half). All you do is plant them in the middle of winter and check back on them in late spring when they need to be transplanted. They lived through snowstorms, thunderstorms, and overcast days, thriving in their warm little houses. Winter sowing is supposed to be as low maintenance as gardening gets. And it was…until summer temperatures showed up and I never took the plants out of the greenhouses. They baked away in the malevolent May heat until they fried to a crisp.

garden crispy 1
Crispy salad

 

Everything died a painful death except one bottle of lettuce. But I couldn’t transplant it because the bottle was inhabited by a freaky garden spider sitting on an enormous white egg sac. I want to eat healthier, but there are limits to what I’ll do for lettuce.

garden lettuce
The lettuce doesn’t trust me so it’s gardening itself

 

There are all kinds of critters in the garden, but the one that will make me quit early every time is opiliones, otherwise known as harvestmen, daddy long legs, or shepherd spiders. They have several aliases like the evil villains they are. The fact that they’re harmless and not actually spiders has no effect on my prejudice against them. They skeeve me out in the worst way. You can’t see them until they’re right up on you, like some kind of ninja spider. And their skittering legs are so long I can’t even handle it.

When I do have the energy to work in the garden and I’m willing to risk a run-in with opiliones, I pull weeds. Unfortunately, this is another task I waited too long to do. Now the garden is overrun with tall grasses whose roots have taken over every available inch of soil. I pulled one clump of grass and half the dirt in the garden came up with it. Oh well. Gardening may be relaxing, but it’s not for lazy people. And that makes sense, because lazy people are probably relaxed enough, right?

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4 thoughts on “The Hottest of Messes: Garden, Year Two

  1. Thank goodness I read this before I even thought about doing any gardening. I knew that wasn’t the vocation for me.

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  2. I have spearmint everywhere in my back yard flower bed. I’m thinking about looking up some mint candy recipes. Also my coworker said you can make mint/watermelon salad and blend up mint with olive oil and use it like pesto. Maybe there’s a way to make homemade toothpaste? There has to be some way to use it.

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