The Hardest Lesson I Was Relieved To Learn


By Krystal Krogman

When you’re new to gardening sometimes the hardest part is when things don’t grow. It could be for any number of reasons. They were planted to close, they were in too small of a space (container), the weather didn’t cooperate, or something digs the plants up. Or even something else… Something completely unexpected.

I’ve shared stories of gardens’ past where we were either swimming in produce or our plants were barren. This year, thus far seems to be falling somewhere in between.

The growing season seems to be an odd one this year, although it is only May… Perhaps, it’s more that I just have never paid this close of attention to it. I may be stuck in this “April Showers Bring May Flowers” mindset, but it sure seems awfully rainy for May.

Fortunately, this weekend there was a drier afternoon. While my house slept, I dug into the garden. It was a delightful surprise of peace, something mindful and mindless all at once. And since you’re all on the edge of your seats, wondering how exactly does “my garden grow” I thought I’d give you a quick update.

“The Radishes Are Growing, The Radishes Are Growing!”

The quote above is not a Paul Revere parody… It was my husband one evening a week or so ago after I’d arrived home from work. He was so excited, which made me laugh since he was so skeptical on the whole garden idea. You could tell he was dreaming of that unique spiciness of a radish, and rather salivating at the thought. Our Early Scarlet Globe radishes are flourishing – so much so that this past weekend, I planted another two rows of them. I am hoping they’ll keep growing to give us a succession crop.

Our Little Marvel peas are sporadic, and although we had originally allotted two rows of them in the garden, only about five decent sized plants are growing. Remember, we started these early and then it snowed on us. We removed the non-viable starters and kept going.

We replaced them with some Straight Eight cucumbers, something we didn’t really have the room for before and were still in the ‘safe seed-sowing season’. I enjoy dill pickles and even remember many years ago, my father making pickles with us. It’s funny how these memories come flooding back to you while you’re piling up dirt around your own cucumber seeds.

Our Provider bush beans are sprouting and some of the plants are even a few inches tall. We had tempted fate in our garden, by planting those so early in the season, so only time will tell. In our home we eat a lot of vegetables, so I increased the plants on those, just to see if they’d have time to harvest.

The Taiyo and Evening Sun sunflowers are growing well… They’re not in the raised bed, but a row of them sprinkled together across the back corner of the yard behind the raised bed. The dogs and child tend to forget they’re there and I always have to boot them out so they don’t trample the little plants. These baby plants make me smile because I know that one day they will tower over me like my son. As I’ve said before, these are my favorite flowers. They do not wilt and die as other do so quickly (like my marigolds in my front flower beds), they bow gracefully. They teach me that I need to understand that things are not always in my control. Sometimes, I need to bow gracefully aside and let God do His work.

I’m concerned about the sunflowers growth, not because they’ve fallen behind (as far as I can tell) but because there seems to be a rogue bush taking over the back fence. We’ve attempted to cut it back and down as much as we could many times, but it just comes back fiercer. Do any of you have home (non-toxic) remedies for these sorts of stowaways?

Lastly, an update on our tomatoes. We were saddened to see the late cold snap kill off four of our tomato plants. We were so looking forward to some tomatoes fresh from the garden (tasting like our grandparents’) that we went out and bought four more. They’re a different variety than the others, and we have been watching them closely. Yesterday, I went through and removed the “suckers” by pinching them off. I also made sure there were no branches touching the ground (something that, as I had learned this weekend, helps keep the bugs off the plants).

When I had talked to the expert gardeners and seed experts at Heirloom Solutions, they told me that even they had lost some tomato plants with the cold snap. I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I was that it wasn’t just me, the newbie gardener that had had issues with Mother Nature’s mood swings.

I even planted some Paris Market carrots around our tomatoes to try and see companion planting at work. A book on my reading list is Carrots Love Tomatoes, so I’m hoping the title is true. (Probably should have read it before making this move, but we’ll see what happens.)

It’s funny how much you can learn while gardening. Not just the anatomy of plants, and the composition of soil… but character traits like resilience, trust, and inter- and independence. The lessons are plentiful in the garden, and I can’t wait to learn more (as long as not too many of my plants are poorly affected).

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