I’m pretty sure I should quit trying to be a vegetable gardener; I should just accept my failures and move on.
But I keep oohing and ahhing over the beautiful catalogs containing so many tempting and unique varieties. Especially now, as many of us start planning our fall and winter gardens. I really do want to be more self sustaining, and growing our own veggies is a big step towards that goal – especially when I’m fairly certain we’ll never have chickens or livestock.
In recent years my vegetable harvests have consistently been a disappointment. It’s not that I’m a terrible gardener. As a matter of fact, not to brag, but I’ve inherited a bit of a green thumb from my mother. And have you seen our yard? It’s not that far of a stretch when we refer to it as an urban jungle. The bug and bird noises will keep you awake at night, or wake you up well before necessary.
So what’s the problem? Location and weather, time, and a very large adorable critter; together these factors make up the perfect storm of vegetable gardening disappointment.
We’ll start with the issue of the adorable large critter. Earlier this week I found a dead cabbage in the garden path. Yep, it had been shredded, to the stub, and uprooted from the raised bed – which is a pallet bed with a wire grid over it for protection from said critter. Obviously the grid didn’t protect the plant from Charlie’s long, thin snout. And to think I was excited to see that the cabbage was doing so well and hadn’t yet been harmed by bugs or chipmunks.
If you recall, I’ve gardened in the past with the same breed of dog. But the Jasmanian Devil (our last Airedale) was a bit more discriminating as to when and which crops she would, ahem, “harvest”. Charlie Brown the Airedale is not quite as discriminating. With Jasmine I just had to monitor closely and make sure that I harvested before she did. And while she was fond of cruciferous vegetables, she didn’t like all vegetables, so there were a few that were safe from her prowling munchies.
Charlie Brown (CB), however, loves his veggies. I mean loves them! He will run through his entire vocabulary of commands for a carrot top. He’ll steal tomatoes right off the cutting board on the counter – while I’m standing in the kitchen. And now he’s discovered that the pallet fences and raised beds contain vegetables. Oh, and terriers are diggers – so root crops aren’t safe either.
I knew he liked veggies as he ate our entire tomato harvest last summer. So this summer I moved the majority of the things I thought he liked to a garden area outside of the fence. So in his domain (inside the fence) I’m trying sweet potatoes, the aforementioned cabbage, peas, radishes, and hot peppers.
So far, I’ve caught him digging in the sweet potato bed once, but I suspect it wasn’t the first or last time he did that. While he decimated the cabbage, he hasn’t touched the hot peppers (yet)!? The peas and radishes were spared – for some reason he doesn’t like peas. And I’m not sure he even knew the radishes were there.
That brings us to location and weather. As mentioned, I did move much of my veggie gardening to a location outside of the fenced in portion of our yard. I took over an area on the side of the house and relocated some pots, cleaned up the strawberry containers, and redid the borders to extend the garden that was already there. I thought it would get enough sun, being on the sunny south side of the house. But as it turns out, that location is only sunny when it’s sunny in our region.
I understand how silly that statement sounds, but this summer, while warm, has been exceptionally grey and dismal. And our bright sunny blue sky days have been few and far between. Which means that while my semi-protected-from-direct-scorching-afternoon-sunlight garden would be ideal in most situations, in this one, it isn’t. The tomatoes aren’t ripening, good thing I have a good green tomato salsa recipe. The other veggies are languishing as well.
Since these plants are outside of the fence, those tricky, annoyingly fast and ninja like chipmunks know they are safe from the giant terrier on the other side. They’ve tried to get into the carrots and smaller crops. But I did put layers of netting over them with various forms of cages (insert your favorite villain laugh here). And so far that’s helped. But then again, the veggies aren’t producing much and therefore don’t look very tempting right now.
Which brings me back to the idea of giving up on veggie gardening. I don’t really want to! I want to be successful at it and to be able to can or freeze things that came from our own garden, as little as it is. I love supporting our local farmers and shopping at farmers markets and buying local produce whenever I can. I really love when those items are purchased to supplement what’s in our garden. I worry about food scarcity, monocultures, and Big Agra. I want to know where and how my food is grown.
But my current track record isn’t the best. Am I wasting my time? Should I be concentrating my efforts elsewhere? Should I switch to herbs or a pollinator garden?
Oooh, look! A winter gardening catalog arrived in today’s post! I’ll worry about the failures later. I’ve got a winter garden to plan.