Garden Update: A doomed forest of corn, some big mistakes, and cute lil baby veggies...

As you may recall from past posts, my boyfriend and I planted our first garden together in his backyard this spring. Neither of us completely knew what we were doing -- we planted the seedlings with a book akin to Gardening for Dummies in one hand and a shovel in the other -- but we figured it was on-the-job learning, and an adventure.

We've had mixed results out of this blind optimism, and I figure it's about time for an update.

1. The "garden", and the seedlings. Our little garden is more of a plot, so I don't want people picturing some sprawling, luscious movie-style garden (like the one you can currently find in the backyard of my awesome friend Dera at Casablanca)... originally the space of ground we dug up looked a little too much like a grave, and we doubled that into a rough square later after we realized we had bought too many plants. We planted an assortment of seedlings, including squash, zucchini, three different kinds of peppers, basil, and stevia. Here's where we made our first mistake though... when the book said, "plant squash and zucchini seedlings in mounds," we figured a little heap of dirt would count as a "mound" just fine. Word to the wise... it doesn't. If there are specific planting instructions, you should probably figure that they're there for a reason. In the case of squash and zucchini, it's because if there isn't enough air circulating around the plants, they'll come down with a very nice case of powdery mold. Oops. I battled the powdery mold quite successfully on the squash plants with a mixture of milk and baking soda (two of the natural remedies I found recommended online) but all of my zucchini died. Tragedy! The peppers are doing swimmingly, and we have several adorable baby squash growing up nicely too, so I'm quite excited about that. Our herbs are also thriving enthusiastically, so I'm making plans for Caprese salad and stevia-sweetened iced tea soon. Hurrah!

2. Our little forest of doomed corn. I sprouted some corn seeds on my kitchen counter and was ecstatic when they grew like a corn equivalent of Jack's beanstalk. Sadly for the little plants, this was right around the time that Atlanta was heating up into a city-sized oven and suddenly my boyfriend's backyard turned into one massive mosquito nest. I would go out to water the garden and come back with my legs covered with those little buggers' corpses, and 20 or so bites from the ones I hadn't managed to kill. The moral of the story... the corn is probably doomed. I admit it, we're too lazy to deal with the heat AND the mosquitoes, so our plants are probably just going to die out there on his back porch. Silent shame.

3. Our tomato saga. Originally I bought two tomato plants meaning to put them in homemade upside-down planters, but after the first attempt ended in dirt everywhere and a smashed seedling, I figured I would wait to try again. My main problem is that I don't have a good post / hook / tree / anything to hang it on, so if I don't figure out a good option for that soon I'm just going to go ahead and still the little guy in the ground, because he's done about all the growing he can in his little container. During a trip to Ace Hardware the other day to buy wire supports for our peppers we spotted a tomato plant for sale that already had two little tomatoes on it, and of course I couldn't resist buying that one too...!! He's already safely in the ground, and hopefully will do well in his new environment. Fingers crossed!

Observations and notes for future reference: I love growing things. I really like growing them from seeds too (fortunately, since that way is also a lot cheaper) so next season I'll definitely start my plants inside way early to have the fun of that and avoid buying seedlings. However, when planting things, I need to do research, and follow the instructions provided by that research. Also, it's good to do the digging wayy in advance, since when it gets hot I get lazy. I'll also probably try to ditch the digging all together next Spring, and go in with some other gardening friends to rent and share a tiller one Saturday and just avoid back-strain entirely.

Otherwise, I feel like our little garden has been a pretty decent success! I'm hoping to pick and cook some of the little squashes in a few days, so I'll be sure to report back how our home-grown vegetables taste... I'm nervous that they might have suffered from not having quite enough water, but we'll hope for the best and wait and see! Smile.

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