I know I’m not supposed to like bunnies in the garden, but I do. they make me happy, with their little fuzzy ears and their soft fur and sweet little tails. And, besides, our garden is in a state of complete disarray at this point – every time we make plans to plant the veggies the weather throws rain our way, leaving the beds far too wet to plant. So it isn’t like the little thing can do a whole lot of damage at this point.
I finally managed to start my seeds last week (there was quite the meltdown about money to fix the cars, and how starting seeds saves us money on plants and whatnot) and they’re germinating nicely. I skipped the peppers, since they take a lot longer to germinate, but there are tomatoes, brussel sprouts, tomatillos, basil, lemon balm, cilantro, and marigolds all planted. I’m trying the newspaper cup thing to save some money on buying the biodegradable ones at the store, and so far I’m pretty happy with it.
We’ll end up buying peppers and eggplant and maybe a few other plants to fill things in, but it’s a good start so far.
In what might be the best thing ever to happen to this lazy gardener (who still has yet to start her seeds… I really should get on that) – chives growing from last year’s plantings. I had no idea that they would end up a perennial once established, and had assumed I’d have to re-plant all of my herbs this spring. I had also assumed that even if a few things around the house were perennials, the bitter cold and snowy Ohio winter would have killed things off entirely.
And, yet, here they are. Lovely little green spikes, rising from the wasteland of death that is my raised beds. It also appears that there is quite a bit if squirrel poop in the beds, as well, which really is to be suspected. We’ve been fighting squirrels getting into our attic, and they feasted quite well on the leftovers of last year’s garden over the winter. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle with them, at this point.
A good homesteader I am not. I like to say that every year we get a little bit better at this, but truth be told I’m not sure we’re getting better so much as we improve one thing and neglect another.
I canned blueberry jam this year, and a single batch of salsa (which tastes far more tomato-y than like salsa so it was quite disappointing). A lot of peppers and tomatoes and eggplant went to waste, and I feel horrible about it. I should do better. No, I can do better. I’m better than this. None of this food should be going to waste, and I know my depression-era grandmother would probably be upset by our waste if she was around to see it.
I like to tell myself that I’d do better if this was my full-time job. When I imagine having a farm of my own and trying to be self sufficient-ish, I don’t imagine having another job to go to for 9 hours out of my day. I imagine a farm being my job. Tending a garden and the animals, preserving things as much as I can… And truth be told, coming home from a day of work only to have to do more work to tend a garden is not ideal. Should I suck it up and do it anyway because it’s what I want for my life? Probably. Does the lure of snuggling up on the couch with knitting sound better? Of course it does.
We did things so much better this year than last year. We built raised beds so we had defined, contained planting areas. We bought compost for the beds (100% worth it). We laid newspaper down in the walkways in between the beds to combat the red-root pigweed we’ve been fighting for several years. We mulched. We staked and trellised. We watered and nurtured.
And then, when it came to harvest, we failed. It wasn’t entirely our fault – despite the compost correcting issues with the tomatoes from previous years, we still had issues with them rotting on the vine before we could get to them. We have some invasive morning glory vines that have crept their way into the bed we used for radishes and beets. My long, skinny eggplant never took off and I resorted to a store-bought purple variety despite my better judgement (I’m the only one who eats eggplant so the big ones go to waste regardless of whether I buy or grow it). Powdery mildew made its way from the cucumbers to the zucchini and then to the acorn squash. Critters munched on some of my acorn squash and the one watermelon we had growing. Despite all this, I still feel like the biggest failure lies solely with us. If I had just worked harder, paid better attention, knew more, did something differently, etc.
It’s funny how I’m so full of excitement and hope in the Spring, and by Fall I’m full of disappointment. There are people out there who make it all seem so… easy. So rewarding. Beautiful gardens and beautiful veggies, and blog posts on harvests and what they’re eating from the garden today and whatnot. And I’m so… disorganized. Forgetful. And, sometimes, in too much physical pain to function, let alone tackle weeding, or hours at the stove canning or cooking. But such is life – we all have our triumphs and downfalls, and we all spend our time how we see fit. Every year I’ve tried to do better, and every year I’ll continue to try to do better. I’m still growing and learning and doing. And I suppose that’s what is most important.