The Garden Today – August 14, 2015

August 14 garden panorama
The garden as of August 14. Apologies for the wonky panorama – I’m still trying to work out the best way to capture the garden.

One of my goals in this journal is to capture the garden in photos through the year. I’ve admired the way that garden blogger Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl does this, and it’s neat to watch her garden’s progression.

The garden in August is an especially good reminder of why I want to take these photos. In the spring, I never remember that the garden will look like this in just a few months. I always have this naive belief that things will stay neat and tidy, with plenty of space in between…yeah, right.

Then we get to August, and the tomatoes are flopping, the cucumbers are taking over the driveway, and the tomatillos are threatening to take out any other plant in a four-foot range.

Cucumber vines
Cucumber vines sprawling ALL over the driveway.

A few notes on the garden today:

  • The two nearly dead cucumber starts that I plopped into the bed along the driveway wound up going like gangbusters. After our weird weather this year the vines are looking a little rough and the cukes have all been funny shapes, but they’re going strong. I have a batch of relish on my canning schedule this weekend.
  • The tomatoes – in the top far left bed in the photo – are in sad shape. The squirrels have taken every single one. Rather than cope with my distress over this, I’ve just tried to ignore the tomatoes. As a result, they’re overgrown, poorly supported, and just a mess. I think they might come out this weekend to make way for some fall plantings.
  • The basil is going like gangbusters. Time for pesto!

 

Beautiful basil
Isn’t this basil gorgeous? It’s been my best year ever for it. And we’ve eaten so much pesto pasta.
  • It’s not totally obvious in these photos, but area around the three raised beds was one of my big mistakes this year. We put the beds together in the spring. My plan was to get rid of the grass around/between them and cover it with gravel, but my gardening budget was gone and I decided to wait until next spring. In the meantime, I figured, I could keep the grass trimmed with my weedwhacker. But I forgot to account for the watermelon and butternut squash vines that are now covering those areas, and the grass is wildly overgrown and full of weeds – and I can’t do much about it for fear of killing the good guys! I’m trying to take deep breaths, hope the neighbors don’t mind too much, and plan to get that gravel in ASAP.
  • Either this fall or spring, I’m planning to take out a little more lawn to put four more raised beds in next to the driveway-adjacent flower bed. Those will get gravel paths, too — right away, this time!
The garden today - looking like a jungle!
A closer look at the beds. Look at that jungle!

A Garden Journal

Yellow snow pea
The first yellow snow peas from this year’s garden. They didn’t do very well in our weird spring, but they were beautiful.

I have been gardening on and off since 2009, when my husband and I turned the trash- and weed-covered patch of dirt behind our first rental into two neat vegetable beds. We had no idea what we were doing, but it didn’t matter — I was hooked. Since then, I’ve planted vegetables every summer, as long as we weren’t in the middle of a move (and that one dreadful year where we lived in an apartment building and didn’t have a yard at all).

Every spring, it seems like a miracle to me that the tiny seeds I tuck into the dirt actually sprout, let alone become rambling monster plants by late summer. And every year I think to myself that I should have been keeping track, should have been documenting the garden better. What grew well, what floundered. Pests that plagued us, and whether I was able to fight them off. How and when I fertilized, watered, harvested. When exactly those first tomatoes ripened, so that when I’m anxiously watching them in June, I can remind myself that I still have a month to go.

Our very first garden.
Our very first garden in Pocatello, circa April 2009.

But the chore of record-keeping has never been my forte, so I thought keeping an online journal might be the perfect way to track my garden. Nothing formal or structured, no set rules, just a simple way to remark on what’s happening in the garden now, so I can look back on it next year and the year after that.

Starting this journal in mid-August means I haven’t done a very good job of documenting this year, either, but at least I can reflect on the end of this year’s garden while I dream about next year. And besides, timely, organized, well-planned? That’s not exactly how I garden, so why should my garden journal be any different?