Saturday, August 28, 2010

Garden FAIL

RIP Yellow GrapeTomato
Woe is my garden.

If that’s what you want to call it. What I have is not a garden, nor was it ever much of one to begin with. Despite my persistence, year and after year, the vigilant attempt to sow seeds and tend to them in the hopes of someday harvesting a tasty reward has sprouted nothing but terrible failure, weeds, and death.

By now, I had hoped to be sharing with you recipes that reflected the overflowing abundance of my garden’s bounty. But instead, as always, I’m staring at a scant patch of dirt, left only to imagine what might have been and wondering what I did wrong.

For their often short-lived lifespan, my plants reside in what I call the “pot garden.” No, it’s not because that is where I cultivate my marijuana, but because due to aesthetic conflicts and the lack of adequately sun-lit patches in my yard, I’m forced to plant everything in pots and shove them as far in the back as possible. I hate them. They frustrate me, and often get stuck with the blame of killing my barely-budded blossoms. Forget a pot garden; it’s more like a terra cotta graveyard.

Given my ill-fated history in horticulture, this year I only planted two pots: one for a few herbs, and the other for yellow grape tomatoes. I think the herbs were parsley, chives, basil, and maybe cilantro. I don’t even remember, and trust me; it doesn’t even matter at this point. I always start with seeds because when they actually do grow, it is very rewarding. I begin planting around the end of May when the threat of frost is no longer looming. Sometimes, I start the seeds a little earlier in the windowsill and repot them once their green stems are poking a few inches above the soil.

I try my hardest to provide my plants with everything they need--sunlight, water; I’ve even resorted to conversation, trying to coax them into growing. It works for Grandma; “You have to be nice to them,” she says. Apparently, the herbs weren’t having it. Maybe they were afraid to come out because of the crazy girl talking to them, or more rationally, were choked to death by the underlying abundance of weeds about to take over their humble abode.

I’d often trek all the way to the very back of the yard to check on the garden, when within just a few weeks of planting, I spotted a bunch of tiny green blades started to break the soil in the herb pot. Where those my herbs growing so quickly and abundantly? Could it really be? A few weeks more and still not an herb in sight, but there was an entire bush of clovers! Clover salad, anyone? Maybe for my rabbit, Spumoni.

So much for an herb garden this year—all I have to show for it is a pot of weeds, and even they’re dead! Either I am severely lacking a green thumb, or I live on a death yard filled with murderous soil. Pitiful. I had to at least have a basil plant, so we bought one. I’d love to be complaining about how my basil is just taking over the yard right now, but it’s doing merely OK in its little pot. Although it has yielded a decent amount of leaves after each picking, it’s slowly rotting away with drowning roots.

While the herb pot was being taken over by clovers, the yellow tomato pot was full of promise, growing taller every day. Soon, it began to flower. I was so proud! I visualized popping juicy yellow tomatoes into my mouth like candy, and could already see them on top of bruschetta, and in salads. I watched as little green tomatoes gradually made their way out into the sunlight and got bigger and bigger from week to week. And then, they just stopped.

About the size that a grape tomato should be, they never completely matured and remained green. I don’t know what happened. The slightest touch and the fruit fall from the branch. I am now sure that they aren’t going to turn yellow, and it just breaks my heart. They were almost there! Damn pots. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Woe is my lack of a garden.


Dionne Baldwin said...

Oh NO! I am so sorry about your garden. This is a very weird year for gardens, plants, everything from what I have heard. I know you mentioned terra cota and everything I planted in terra cota DIED. I killed them dead. Not sure what curse was upon those pots but how frustrating. Better luck for us all next year I hope.

Frank said...

Terrible but I have to admit I was chuckling while reading this post... My pot garden looks about the same this year. Not sure why, either.

Evan @swEEts said...

This is why I let Mountain Man do all the gardening at our house.. my garden would look something like this but probably worse- I killed a plant that my mom said was a plant for dummies..I hope your garden grows next year!!

Healthy Mamma said...

Ohhhh, I can totally relate to this unfortunatley. Very very frusterating, I 'm sorry.
Here are a few things I've learned from trial and a lot of error and also having a mom who is a horticulturist/botanist.
1. If you plant in pots, terra cotta specifically, you need to water up to several times a day in the summer. Who has time for that? Not me.
Plastic or glazed pots do slightly better but are in my experience still difficult to get a good yield. You need a very large pot for everything besids herbs and the soil, and this is important, needs to be fertilized regularly since it is contained.
Also... pots need to have very good drainage and just the right kind of potting soil.
After investing more money than I care to remember in pots, I have all but given up, I too have a pot cemetary in my backyard.
My advice to you is to first, have your soil checked for ph balance at a local nursery and second, make yourself a small, raised garden. You probly know to position it on the west side of your yard where it can get full morning and midday sun and be shaded in the harsher afternoon sun.
Lastly, ( sorry if you didn't want all this advice, I can't help myself on this topic ;-)
start a compost pile. I started one a few years ago and to my amazment, have beautiful dark, rich compost soil that I am going to use in my tiny raised garden this year. Look up composting on line.
Hope this helps.

Koci said...

Awww, I'm sorry about your rebellious garden! I understand though. I can't even get those little message beans in a can to grow. hehe

Prairie Story said...

There's always next year. it was a poor year for my garden too...too much rain.

Koci said...

I know I've already commented on here, but I wanted to let you know that I've given you a Versatile Blogger award!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Well written post. You disappointment comes through the page. I hope your next attempt works for you. I can relate, having had more than my share of gardening mishaps.

Fashion Meets Food said...

Sorry to hear about your garden! I only have a balcony for plants so I potted a bunch. Absolute disaster and devastating. The roma tomatoes all have black stuff on the bottom which rotted them. Regular tomatoes have brown stuff on the bottom and larva worms in them...gross. Basil looks like it went through a war. Green peppers taste like dog poo smells. Flowers died. It really is tragic.


Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Oh tell me about it. My basil was doing just fine until recently they're turning yellow. ugh! Also, my mint doesn't seem to live a little longer.

Megan said...

ooooooh sweetie.....sad times for those tomatoes...your post was wonderful, I laughed out loud! I am wishing that the garden faeries visit you next year and bless you with lots of red tomatoes!

~Lisa~ said...

OH no! hehe I love your descriptions and story. Don't give up.

Foodessa said...

Marisa...just to share with you my MIL's woes that maybe it will relieve you a little of your sorrow.
She usually has a garden that is the envy of her neighbours...unfortunately this year...our basket comes home with very slim pickings.
Many have told me the same.
I guess, just for this year at least...I'm not sorry I let go of my garden.
Hope, next year will be more fruitful for you as well as for everyone else that has had the same misfortune.

Flavourful wishes,

Marisa said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words and advice! It makes me feel a little better knowing that I'm not the only one with such bad gardening luck this year :)