Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It was a hard decision to come to, but alas, after this long weekend, I have decided to let the garden go (except for the herbs) this Spring/Summer growing season.

I've always said this blog would highlight it all, the success and the failure, the good and the bad.  This is the failure.  And the bad.  We've often thought of this farm as a multi year process and I just sometimes get ahead of myself.  Just like when I'm at an all you can eat buffet, my eyes are often bigger than my stomach (three plates later of course).

Anyway, I think I jumped the gun on wanting to get things growing before I had thought about it and planned it all out.  I built the beds which took some time.  Then it took time to get the soil delivered because of our rural location.  Then the fence took some time to plan and after it was finally built, seeing it got me all excited and so I just started planting, without a care in the world.


Not being there on a daily basis, I had to come up with a way to water and I came up with this temporary solution for watering, a sprinkler on a timer.

But it didn't work as I had hoped.  There is a spot beside one of the beds that stays in standing water that quickly becomes stagnate water and makes it impossible work around and mow or edge, not to mention it attracts mosquitoes.  Then, if it's windy when the sprinkler goes off, the beds don't get watered consistently. I turned off the sprinkler for a few days to see how things would progress but then they started getting crispy.

I realize now that I really need a better watering system.

We've heated up so fast here, there is not much time now to try to plant anything as a seedling, we're in the 90's more often than not.  To say I was bummed about it would be an understatement, see above, but it's no one's fault but my own.

I should have built all the beds and completed the garden, not just six.
I should have checked for low spots and leveled the ground.
I should have installed a better, more reliable watering system.
I should have planted when the weather was cooler.
I should have made sure the soil was nice and nutrient rich.
I should have figured out a way to control the grass in between the beds.

Should-a, would-a, could-a!

The good news is the herbs seem to be holding their own, so that's good!

What I need to do now is concentrate on the infrastructure of the garden.  Just like we couldn't stay in the house for extended periods without having electricity and hot water and a bed to sleep in, and a refrigerator and stove to have food, I shouldn't have planted vegetables until everything else in the garden was set up and ready to go, including water and properly conditioned soil. next goal is to level the ground in the flooded spot.  Then I need to put the other raised beds together.  After that, I need to figure out something for the grassy areas.  And lastly I need to get a drip irrigation system installed.  I'm already researching those.  The good part is that I will get to keep the automatic timer, which has worked very well by itself.  I bought it at Home Depot, but they sell them on Amazon as well.  This is the one I got:
DIG Hose End Timer.  I just need to make sure the water gets to where it needs to be instead of everywhere else.

Luckily, our climate gives us a second growing season.  I can plant tomatoes and many other plants in September and have a great Fall crop.
But only after I have addressed the other issues. 

It was a tough decision this weekend.  I won't say it didn't make me a little bit depressed, discouraged and somewhat defeated.

But I didn't let it get me down too long.  I just have to focus on what will make the garden work best, and work on the yard around the house.

 But then I look at this and realize that I have all this future potential.  Better to do it right now and get the groundwork laid properly (pun intended) and give the plants the best start next time around.

Onward and upward!

p.s.  More on the rest of the weekend in the upcoming days and I'll catch up on your comments and reply to them all as well.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

i know how disappointed you must be. but, sometimes these things are for the best. i did not plant a garden for 3 years because of the stink bug infestation in our area. this year's garden is the biggest i have ever had. so far, so good. but if we don't start getting some rain, i am in big trouble too. it you put straw down between the beds, it will keep the weeds from growing, it looks nice and you can work it into your compost pile too.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Good luck with the "back to the drawing board" garden. Drip would be easier if you were not doing raised beds. Love your fence.

Tomato Thymes said...

You may want to consult with reliable garden centers regarding the irrigation . I have 3 raised beds and it can get more complicated without expert
Advice. There can be water pressure issues etc. it will work out for you. But talking to experts made my life

Joani said...

I am so sorry to hear this. But, on the other hand, gardening is all about trial and error. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. That is what is so special about gardening, one learns a lot. So, don't feel depressed, view it as an experience and a learning module. Good luck with working through the summer and planting your winter crops. Can't wait to hear about it.

LindaG said...

I have no idea where you live, but I wish you lived near me. While your weather sounds a lot like ours, heat wise, we have veggies coming out our ears, and I suspect the tomatoes will very soon be following them.

I hear you on grass/weeds. Some people think you should just let it grow and not fight it.
However, if you read this blog, you will see the quite ingenious way a couple in Idaho not only beat the weeds, but their poor ground as well.

I do know how you feel. When we lived in NC, I couldn't grow much of anything, and just didn't. It was less frustrating.

We started too early, too, and lost a lot to frost or just not germinating. The plants are making up for it now though. I can't keep up.

Have a great day and good luck next time!

Linda said...

If you find and watch the Back to Eden film, free on youtube, maybe that can help with the problem in the future. His method is ingenious.

At least you know what the problem is and can attend to solving it.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Don't beat yourself up about the garden. It's your first garden, this does happen to most of us. Do your research, talk to people with gardens and when the time is right (which will be soon) start again.

DFW said...

Hey 1st Man,

I too have been thinking about how best to water our raised bed in the Country, once I move there of course. I think we are going w/drip irrigation or soaker hoses. I sent you a link to two different ideas.

Even w/water here in the City, we came home from being gone 3 days & tomato plants that looked fine when we left have been attacked by leaf miners. I may get some tomatoes but not even 1/2 as many as I had hoped. Some years are better than others. Keep your chin up, you'll be swimming in vegies in the future.

JOHN SHORTLAND, Cotswold Hills, England. said...

In England we have a hosepipe called Leaky Pipe made from recycled car tyres - the water seeps out of it under low pressure and can be left on indefinitely. Best just buried under the surface. The water only goes to the plant roots and avoids issues of overwatering and watering areas that don't need it. I'm sure you must have something similar in the States - I expect it was an American invention!

Never give up!!


Kris said...

Yeah, I know it's herd to step bac when you want to run forward. But in the end it will turn out better. Hang in there.

Question. Is it YOUR choice to have those ad links showing up between each post .. Or some one else's? Just wondered. They don't look like "your" sort of thing....

Janice Tutone said...

Sorry to hear about your difficulty! But on the other hand, I'm thankful for your honesty. I always feel like a failure with gardening and usually sum it up by saying I don't have a green thumb. Most people who have blogs make everything look easy and perfect. That's why I'm thankful you have posted the truth. Glad to know I'm not alone out there.

GrafixMuse said...

There are no failures in gardening, only experiences to learn from. You still have plenty of time to grow something later in the season when temperatures cool down a little for you.

Kev Alviti said...

I've always said in gardening that if you got it all right the first year it would be a pretty boring hobby in all the years after that. Better to have big ideas and do half than not to try anything!

Kelly said...

Don't beat yourself up. I would have done the same thing. It's hard not to get excited. Meanwhile, we reached 71 here today.

Bluestem said...

Gardening is always a learning experience. The good thing is that you always get second chances, you just have to be patient sometimes. If you like okra, you could plant it from seed now and it would not need too much attention. Our fall planting season begins in July in the DFW area. You probably are not far off from your second season.

Your raised beds are nice, but take a look at the ones on this blog Wow is all I can say. It looks like they are using soaker hoses for watering.

Keep it up!

Trailshome said...

Wise move, to back off and restart the process. I'm a Master Gardener in northern Indiana, and have tried most things and failed a lot, so have a few suggestions that may work for you. First, instead of trying to change nature, why not work with it as much as possible? If you have a low boggy spot, instead of doing all the work to level it off, why not plant blueberries? They thrive with wet feet, and provide lots of good food with not much maintenance required. For the grass between the beds, we mow the grass short, lay down flattened out cardboard boxes, with all the tape removed, and cover that with sawdust, grass clippings or straw. It all breaks down with time, and the combination will even kill off the quackgrass we have growing here. Looks pretty good, too, and makes nice soft walking/kneeling paths. In a couple of years, when it's all broken down, it'll be some good soil there that you can add to the raised beds for some nutrient value. Drip irrigation and a timer is a wonderful way to go, especially if you can consider the watering needs of your garden and zone it, with separate watering areas, and timers, so you don't overwater the hardier things. Your herb garden looks great, and will provide lots of great flavor all summer. Remember soon, to clip those back and preserve for later use, by hanging bunches to dry or freezing them. If you don't clip them, many of them will go to seed. What I'd do now, is just start another bed with salad goodies that'll grow well without a lot of care, and wait until late summer to work on more. Remember, if you haven't failed spectacularly at something in your garden, you haven't tried anything much. Failure is how you learn.

Karen Ambrogi said...

Oh my goodness, don't be so hard on yourself! Your overwhelming enthusiasm to grow and nurture simply got ahead of you...not a failure! I have made these same mistakes. Look how much you learned in this process. Pat yourself on the back for coming up with all the little fixes that you can attend to. Next Spring - clean slate! Nature gives us a do-over every year, how great is that??? This summer, you'll keep the local farm stands in business...!

Shannan Deshazer said...

Trailshome has great advice!
Just to give you encouragement - I think it is always best to start small and then build on that every year. It's taken me five years to get my small backyard victory garden to a producing standpoint. And every year, I have some sort of failure and it helps shapes my gardening.
You had success with building a garden and growing herbs. Next, I would try to plant 1-2 more things this fall and have success with that (instead of planting all of the beds). Then you can build on that and plant a few more crops in the spring and have success with that and so on and so on.

Why not focus your "gardener" energy this summer on getting a killer compost system going? Or try some container gardening with drip irrigation (upside down milk jugs) on your porch with a few veggies?

Good luck 1st man!!

5 Monkeys and a Chick said...

I feel your pain. My seedlings died when I put them out to acclimate them, and well out of sight out of mind. Now I have a million seed packets mocking me.

1st Man said...

Thank you for the words of wisdom. This would be my first year, so I guess to get it all going first time out would be a miracle, ha. Thank you again, much appreciated.

1st Man said...

Thanks, the fence is what delayed my start but now that I have it, it was worth the wait. I found a drip system that uses old pieces of regular hose in between, so they can go down the side, be buried or staked into the ground. I'm working on getting that together now. Still need to build more beds, but it's slowly coming together.

1st Man said...

Thank you, I will definitely run it by the experts. There is actually an irrigation class coming up at one of our local garden centers. Thank you again!

1st Man said...

Amen! I don't consider it all a loss, I did win a few battles, and there are more to go, ha. Thank you for the cheering up. It's definitely a learning curve but it will be fun and the payoff, sometime, will be worth it.

1st Man said...

I hear ya on the temptation to just not do it and not be frustrated. Of course, we spent some $$ on the fence around the garden, and building the beds (with more to come) and so I need to get it going at some point. Thanks for the blog link. I will check it out. Oh, by the way, we are in Texas, Houston, the farm is about 50 miles outside of Houston. :-)

1st Man said...

You know I have heard of that movie but never watched it because I forgot the name. Thank you, I will check that out on youtube this weekend. Thank you!

1st Man said...

You are too kind, thank you. Yep, I'm checking out blogs and talking to some people here in the neighborhood (in town) that have gardens. Soon!!!! You're right, soon!!!