You know… when I started the gardening project with the Hay Bales, it was supposed to be a cheap and easy way to add a little extra produce to our grocery budget without breaking the bank. But when you get right down to it – it’s just expensive to “grow your own.” And, although I say I’m doing soil gardening now because I’ve finally got the chert conditioned, what I’m really saying is – “Wheat straw bales are now $5 a piece – and I buy 12 every year. So that’s $60.00 just for the medium; another $25.00 for the ammonia nitrate; plus $15 for the general purpose fertilizer; plus anywhere between $0.99 to $5.00 for each plant I want to grow (and that can be upwards of 15 to 20 different varieties); plus gadfly and ladybug larvae for pest control (we wont even go into what those cost); and let’s throw in 2 to 3 bags of potting soil so I can fortify the bales so they can make it through the long growing season here; and top off the list with another $50.00 of generic, mundane gardening supplies like pots, tools, burlap, and rabbit wire. Oh – and hell…. while we’re at it, let’s build a $700.00 potting shed.”
Not that growing in the dirt this year is any more cost effective…. well, not for me. Not when I have cabbage worms destroying every single plant on the west side of the garden. Or when I make a stupid decision and buy an organic fertilizer that has too high of a nitrogen content, and I end up burning the crap out of the balance of the plants. Needless to say, it’s becoming a money pit… and I just keep throwing money in it.
Sure, you could say “Hey there guy, why don’t you start all your plants from seeds?” Well, I’ve done that. I don’t like my office looking like I ought to be living with Oliver and Lisa (for those of you older than 40 who get that reference). Besides, I lose focus with all those starter pots and plugs around. Everything either gets under-watered – or over-watered – or just ignored completely… and I have to go buy it all over again.
But, it is what it is.
Not that it’s been a bad year completely. I did get several harvests of radishes, a heap of red onions, and a decent amount of greens (before I burned them to the ground). And yes… I’ve replanted. And I’m a little smarter this time around.
Where I lost the greens, I’ve replanted with Sunglow Corn. It’s a hybrid variety of yellow corn that produces short 4′ stalks and 6 to 7 ears per plant. That should leave us with plenty for to eat and enough to pile on unsuspecting doorsteps. Along with the corn are Blue Lake Runner Beans that can trail up on the stalks and the bamboo stakes I’ve placed in the bed.
The carrots in the hanging beds have been reseeded, and I’ve added another 4 dozen late season white onions to the other basket. The little red plants are chard – which I’ve hedged my bets and sowed though out the garden in patches.
I’ve gotten new peppers (all Giant Marconi and Jalapeno) even though one Gypsy pepper survived the scorching. (It’s that sickly looking plant just behind the ball at the center of the photo.) It may or may not survive.
The okra stands are coming along nicely, and as a bonus we have 5 volunteer potato plants (they could be either Yukon Golds or Kennebuc) spring up from the rubble and remnants of the potato cages from last season. I’m encouraging them to produce – hopefully it will be something better than the marbles I got last year. I also found a paper towel stuffed with either Butternut Squash or Hubbard seeds stashed in a drawer from a couple of years ago – they’re coming up center frame. It’ll be a nice surprise whatever they are.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about gardening. This has always been a learning project – really, I’m no gardener. While I did get the gene from my dad to poke a bare stick in the ground and make it grow, I didn’t get the vegetable gene.
As always, I’ll keep you up to date on the growing and harvests. Until then, go get your hands dirty.