I absolutely love gardening. The only problem is, gardening doesn’t love me! We used to live on an 80 acre almond orchard just outside of Paso Robles and I had this amazing garden. I had the most amazing (apparently everything is “amazing” today) vegetables and I didn’t even have to try hard at all. I got all of the dirt from the orchard itself. I had tomatoes, beets, carrots, garlic, onions and anything else I wanted. I got so much joy out of that garden and I really thought I had a green thumb. Well, fast forward quite a few years later and now we live in a neighborhood in town on a small lot that was heavily compacted with decomposed granite. It takes hours with an electric shovel contraption to dig one hole for a tree. No problem, right? I’ll just build a couple of raised garden beds and plant all of my veggies there.
I started with a small greenhouse and planted each little seed by hand. I tended to them daily and established some great little plants that were ready for their permanent home in the garden. I transplanted everything, worked in my garden regularly and guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. That’s right, pretty much everything died. I had some carrots that went crazy, but they ended up tasting like perfume. What the heck happened? I did everything the same with my little green thumbs but I could not grow anything. It started to become a regular joke with my son. He’d see me planting something and say, “Is that your next victim?” My “gardening” attempts were just plain sad!
The following season, I really got ahead of the game and dug out all of my soil and bought organic garden soil that was recommended by our local soil company. I did some soil tests, added some amendments and spent more money on more established plants rather than grow things from seed. I don’t want to make this story too long, but my season was about the same as the year before. We have a lot of wind and sun in our backyard. Two things I didn’t have on the almond orchard. This year we had an extremely windy day and the cover from my outdoor gazebo ripped off and I was left with the frame. I got to thinking that maybe I could use it to cover my little garden to provide some cover. I bought 3 rolls of bamboo fencing and my husband helped me cut it to fit and zip-tied it on the top. I’ve decided that if this doesn’t work, I’m calling it quits.
After apologizing to my neighbor for my new cover not looking as “neighborly” as it should, I promised to replace it with something nicer if it worked this season. So far, I’ve had some plants grow from seeds that I put in last year. Seeds that didn’t grow last year at all. Some I can’t even identify. I’m pretty sure I have two eggplant, but I honestly have no idea. Anyone know how to tell? Is there some sort of plant identifier app out there? I also have carrots, kale, peas and bean “seed duds” from last year and tomatoes that are growing from the seeds from the old tomatoes that dropped last year. (My tomatoes actually grew.)
I’m not getting too excited yet. It’s only May and the heat has just barely started. I’m definitely ahead of last year, but I don’t want to jinx myself! For now, I’ll still enjoy my trips to the local farmer’s markets. My favorite one is in Templeton, the town where I attended high school just a few short years ago (maybe a little longer than that). I’m so envious of everything I see and am patiently waiting to see if this is, in fact, my season to redeem myself. My thumbs are sort of half-perked up….
Stay tuned as I’ll be posting my progress as the season progresses. Let me know if you have any amazing gardening tips for me. I can certainly use them!