I distinctly remember our very first vegetable garden. I planted it in the tiny patch of yard behind our duplex the year I was pregnant with our oldest son. We both swelled up huge that summer – it was beginner’s luck, but far from charming or charmed. Ms. Winnie (an elderly neighbor) slipped in and harvested vegetables when I couldn’t.
I think she told herself she was helping me by helping herself to the abundant crop. And she probably was, although it was interesting to see an 80-year old commit criminal trespass and theft.
I tried again next year when we rented a house in Oklahoma. (What a difference a year makes – new baby, new residence, new garden.) It was an epic fail thanks in large part to our neighbor Stan, who emptied his pool and flooded my garden. Thanks, dude.
The third garden was a bit more permanent, a 20 x 30 plot on ground that we and the bank co-owned. But the third time was not the charm.
We lived there for nine years, and I attempted a vegetable garden at least a half-dozen times. The reasons for my failures were varied: Oklahoma is absolutely torrid in July and August. Baby boy #2 came along. Finishing up two business degrees and starting the corporate grind while juggling a young family consumed my time and energy. Allergies and asthma plagued my respiratory system. Baby girl came along. Somehow in those years I did harvest a few good crops of strawberries, peppers and tomatoes . And we fought the good fight against the Johnsongrass and Bermudagrass that spread their misery in the loose dirt whenever I turned my back.
When we moved to our next home, the best I could manage was to discreetly tucked a few tomato and strawberry plants among the roses in our next garden, and hope the HOA wouldn’t see them. But I don’t count it as a bona fide garden.
The fourth garden was at our last home, where we had an acre to roam. During the first winter, I excitedly ordered vegetable seeds. As soon as it was warm enough, I talked Mr. Official into jumping on the square-foot gardening bandwagon with me. We built a dozen 4×4 squares and filled them up with dirt and seedlings. Over the next ten summers, my vegetable garden enjoyed a few years of modest success, but also several frustrating failures. Heat and drought, along with poor, thin clay soil and a less-than-friendly relationship with a neighbor combined to keep me and the garden from achieving our full potential. The last few years we lived there, my gardening efforts were half-hearted at best. I thought I had lost my gardening muse for good.
And yet here I am again, planting my fifth garden plot. I am determined (really!) to make it pretty and functional. To stick with it even when the weather gets hot and sticky. To have a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, beans and peppers, okra and lettuce, even carrots this year. Will this be the year my efforts are rewarded? Is the fifth time the charm?
I hope so. It looks promising so far.
The outhouse tool shed has been put into its new permanent home.
The potatoes are planted.
The tomato and pepper seedlings are in, along with vegetable and flower seeds. We’re now braving a tiny cold snap, and I’m waiting to see if the new seedlings survive. If not, I have extras on hand to replant.
I guess it’s true: hope springs eternal; now we’ll see if my zeal abandons me once again, when the going gets hot and sweaty. Or if my inner “garden fairy” sticks it out and we see this garden through to first frost sometime next fall.
Here’s to gardens and the gardeners who plant and tend them. We’re nothing if not perennially optimistic.