Over 20 years ago, when we lived in Virginia, gardening was easy.
I’d helped my Dad with his garden for years. I grew up with overflowing fresh produce. There would be so many tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers we’d pickle. He’d make salsa. It’s tough to eat store bought greenhouse tomatoes when you’ve had them off the vine.
So when we bought our first house, one of the first things I did was put in a garden. And, like my Dad, it would get mulched with grass clippings, and in the fall, shredded leaves. Within a few years I had an amazing patch. At one point my neighbor said he was going to steal some of my tomatoes and okra. I told him to help himself as I’d never use all that I grew. The ground was so fertile that at one point I had potatoes that got long in the tooth and the eyes started growing plants. I cut them up and planted them. They grew big ugly plants that I left alone.
Months later, I was sitting on the stoop, drinking a beer, and staring at my garden. I wondered, whatever happened to those potato plants? So I got digging. What happened was I had a ton of potatoes. They were fantastic.
When we moved to Plano, I tried gardening. It was a trail of tears. If I got anything, something would eat it before I could pick it. I planted beans. How can you screw up beans? They grew, flowered, and squeaked one or two sad beans before dying.
So I had to consult the locals. Still, all I could manage was herbs, most of which are essentially weeds.
I finally spring for a Neil Sperry gardening book. I needed to find out how to do it here.
Man, did I learn a lot. Starting with you need to start in March – months before you would in DC. Reason being the end of frost is way earlier. You need time for the plants to mature and produce before the heat kicks in and shuts off production, usually killing your plants.
My first effort was a small bed next to the spa. It grew fine. Matter of fact, my neighbor was over admiring my work.
I told him it’s dogshit.
“No, they’re really nice!”
No, it’s dogshit. I compost it. The dirt these are planted in is composted dogshit.
So this year, I bought some raised gardens on Amazon. I now knew what I was doing, and I needed some place to stick the dirt that would be generated by the foundation for the sunroom. And I started on time as well.
The far garden has a single cucumber and a single squash plant, both of which have been giving us cucumbers and squashes nearly every day. More than we can eat. Well, at least the squash plant did before the dogs stomped on it. I read where if you let a squash too big, the plant quits. That may have happened.
The far garden gave us a bumper crop of radishes.
In a month they’ll be burnt up in the heat and I’ll prepare them for the fall season.
And maybe add two more.