Garden Update, May 2017: The Don’t Be Like Me Edition

Well, it’s time for a garden update and I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the garden seems to be doing reasonably well – or at least, some of it does.  We’ve had a lot of rain recently and it’s making a big difference.

The bad news: to the extent the garden is thriving, it doesn’t seem to be to my credit, and if I decide to get involved with the care of a plant I seem to kill it.  Steve says that if I go against every single one of my natural instincts, I might still have a garden by the end of the season.  How’s that for a vote of confidence?

Flashback:

When I last left you, we’d gotten plants into three pots (which we moved from New York, much to Steve’s chagrin – they are heavy – because I love their colors).  Peanut and I planted lettuces in the big pot, beans in the medium pot and rosemary in the small pot.  We’d jumped the gun just a bit on buying our plants and hit the garden centers before many edibles were ready, with the result being that I had to buy something to avoid a preschooler meltdown.

Fast-forward a few weeks later.  Things were doing reasonably well, and the garden centers had more tomatoes and herbs, so I decided it was time to roll up my sleeves and really dig in.  (#gardenpun).  I visited Lowes and picked up a couple more pots, which I am hoping are big enough for tomatoes.  (Some quick internet research indicated that tomato plants need a fairly large pot for their root systems.)

And that’s when I made my first mess.  I decided to move some plants into pots that were more appropriately sized for them – planting things in the wrong-sized pots was a planning fail to begin with, but see above – I just had to go with it and buy the plants too early, to avoid a preschooler tantrum, and things ended up in poorly sized plants as a result.  Yeah, I suppose I could have put more thought into it in the first place and then I wouldn’t have had these problems.  Well – whatever.

It started out okay.  I moved the rosemary into the medium-sized pot and added some newly acquired parsley and thyme, and planted mint in the small pot (so it could be alone).  But in order to do so, I had to move the beans, and that’s where things started to fall apart.  I tried to untangle the bean plant from the trellis (which was too small) and I ended up killing the poor thing – look how sad it is after I replanted it in the barrel and tried transferring it to the Ultimate Tomato Cage.  Whoops.

Other failures of this iteration of the garden – the lettuce bolted, and someone ate all of the leaves off my purple Thai basil and tormented the poor thing until it gave up the ghost.  I was blaming squirrels (read on) but Steve mentioned he’s also seen some black birds lurking around my pots.  Sounds like I might need a scarecrow.

On to Act III of this little play.  I made yet another trip to the garden center after the weather had warmed up a bit, and picked up more tomatoes and herbs.  I grabbed some more mint to add to my mint pot (now I have a mix of chocolate mint and julep mint in there – yum) and another basil plant to plop in my tomato pots.  The herbs are looking decently well.  We’ve had a ton of rain recently and they’re loving it.

Also looking well – my original tomatoes!  The plants have shot up and I’ve even spotted a few yellow blossoms.  For awhile, the leaves were looking a little brown and sad, but all the recent rain has really helped.  And the beans that Peanut brought home from school, which Steve planted and then I moved.  Why am I so trigger-happy when it comes to moving plants around?  No wonder I have a black thumb.  I need to learn to leave well enough alone.  Thankfully, the beans seem to be happy enough in their new pot, which they’re sharing with some more tomatoes I picked up from the garden center last weekend.  I wanted lettuce, but the garden center was pretty much out, and the few plants they had left looked sort of sad to me.  So I decided – this is going to be a tomato and herb garden this year.  Farmers’ market lettuce for everyone!

A few more tomato plants – I spy lots more yellow blossoms and a few little green fruits!  I totally cheated and bought a couple of plants that already had fruits.  Hey, I’m trying to set myself up for success here.  I bought Rapunzel, Fantastico, and Green Zebra tomatoes in addition to the cherry variety I was already growing.  It’s going to be all tomatoes, all the time this year. 

Bringing me to my second “don’t be like me” tip.  So, remember how I said I thought I was having a squirrel problem?  We do have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood, and they’re hardcore, bold urban squirrels with no respect for people’s property.  So I googled “how to repel squirrels from garden” and came up with a few tips, including – cayenne pepper.  Apparently, they don’t like the smell.  (Of course, the same website also said they don’t like the smell of mint, and something was digging up my mint plants.  In thinking about it – maybe Steve is right, and the problem is crows, not squirrels.)  Anyway, I decided to give cayenne a try, and on Tuesday morning before I left for a business trip, I traipsed out my back door in my slippers with a jar of cayenne in hand, which I proceeded to sprinkle all over the soil.  It definitely looked intimidating.  Then I thought to myself, “This cayenne is pretty old.  I wonder if it’s potent enough to repel the squirrels.”  I leaned down, took a whiff, and… HOLY $(@*$&%(#(#& IT IS POTENT ENOUGH TO REPEL SQUIRRELS OH GOD #@@)%*@#&$.

Gardening pro tip!  Snorting cayenne pepper hurts like a mofo!  Don’t do it!

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Last thing – while I’m telling you about all this other garden equipment I’ve been acquiring – plants, pots, cayenne pepper… there was one item that has proven to be absolutely necessary.  If I didn’t want that happy little dude to dig up my plants, fling soil around the patio and dump handfuls of gravel over my most delicate herbs – all of which was happening – some sort of distraction was needed.  Enter the sandbox!  I’d been meaning to get one for awhile but was hung up on finding the best safe sand.  I finally found an acceptable option (Sandtastik, for my mom friends who might be in the market) and as for the box itself – well, clearly I had to go for the Fisher Price turtle.  Can’t beat a classic, amirite?  Both kids love it, and more importantly, so far, the sandbox seems to be fulfilling its purpose of distracting Nugget and keeping him out of the garden.  Of course, now every surface in the house and on the patio is covered with a layer of sand.  You can’t win them all.

Gardening friends: have you planted yet?  How’s it going?  Have you also snorted cayenne pepper in an effort to repel squirrels?

9 thoughts on “Garden Update, May 2017: The Don’t Be Like Me Edition

  1. This is hilarious. We tried cayenne pepper to keep our rabbit away from the plants when I was a kid – it did not work! Hope the squirrels have a similar reaction to yours. 😉

    • Thanks! You have to laugh at this life or else you’d cry, right? Haha! I’m not a good gardener at all, but I’m just in it for fun and hopefully to learn something (and maybe even get the kids to learn something – hope springs eternal) so it’s working out at least that far! I’m not sure if the cayenne pepper is working; I haven’t noticed any more digging in my pots, so maybe it is. Or maybe the culprit was actually N all along and he hasn’t had much opportunity to dig in the pots because we’ve had so many rainy days. This is a mystery I may never solve…

  2. I was laughing as I read this. I feel like my container garden would end up the exact same. In fact, the first summer at our house when I tried to plant eggplant and zucchini, I put them in containers that were too small and they never grew (but unlike you, I just ignored the problem and didn’t try to transplant them). I’m happy with my CSA and farmers market veggies, although that doesn’t mean I’d never try again.

    • I was laughing as I wrote it! The garden is definitely a comedy of errors. Fortunately – as I said over the weekend – we’re not expecting it to actually be a major food source for the family! It’s just for fun and learning and it’s definitely doing the job there. I’d love to try a CSA sometime; I may look into that next season. For now, the farmers’ market is still the primary source of our produce.

      It was great seeing you over the weekend! Can’t wait to see you more often! 😉

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