Gardening Perfection

My raised garden bed is directly next to our driveway. Every single time I drive down the lane (slightly less than 400 feet to the street), I pass by that garden bed. Every single time I return home and bring my car up the lane and into the garage, I pass by that garden bed once more. The picture below is from a couple years ago. The blacktop driveway is visible in the background at top.tomatoes peppers 1

Whenever I drive by that bed of late, I am greeted with denunciations and scolding. Now the garden obviously says nothing at all, but each time I pass by, the voices in my head get louder and more abusive. (Oops … did I just admit I’m hearing voices? Just ignore that little slip, okay?)

The picture at left reflects a neat and flourishing garden. As I said earlier, this is an old picture. Today is the first time this growing season that I’ve actually worked to groom the plot. What was once a nicely-trimmed garden space has become (to my shame) once again entangled with weeds.

On the bright side, I’ve harvested some strawberries this season, but due to my battle with slugs, I’ve mostly harvested frustration and discouragement from that section this year. The slugs rarely consume an entire berry, but take a large chunk from one side! Also, the older plants are starting to die off, and even though new shoots are sprouting, I’m asking myself whether or not I want to continue with it. No one could ever describe me as a fair-weather gardener. I suppose I’m more of a first-Monday of the month gardener.

I did come across an interesting technique for growing strawberries in elevated rain gutters (see picture below). I’m tempted to try it. Would this growing medium discourage the slugs? I don’t want to go through all the effort and expense just to determine I’ll still be fighting off the slugs. Maybe a smaller-scale experiment (say six feet of guttering) will help me decide whether this technique would work for me.strawberry_gutters

As for vegetables (tomatoes, peppers and green beans), I had pretty much decided I’d skip them this year. Last year, my tomatoes rotted from inside the stem and gradually upward. (I’m told this is due to a fungus that stays in the soil.) Arggh!

But the voices in my head (they rarely stay silent) chided me so mercilessly, I made a quick round through the garden center and settled on three tomato plants and two pepper plants. I admit it’s not an ambitious undertaking, but my half-hearted effort should at least quiet the voices a bit. I’m doing something!

I won’t claim the seedlings I planted are robust and thriving, but they haven’t died yet. I’m crossing my fingers about that fungus, but not overflowing with optimism.

Happily, my raspberries are going gang-busters! I purchased one small raspberry plant two years ago and it has grown huge. (I’m optimistic here, because I know raspberry plants grow wild … maybe this is a plant I don’t have to worry about killing due to my neglect?)2014-06-28 16.49.44

Look at the picture at left. I picked about a half cup of these delectable little jewels today. There are many more buds sprouting (look in the shadows at lower right) and additional berries will be ready to pick tomorrow! I know I can’t claim any credit for these beauties, but I can’t deny how happy I am to see them producing. Further, the stems are expanding into the strawberry section, and I’m thinking I’d be just as happy to see the raspberries replace the strawberry bed.

Years ago, I read information that referred to raspberries as the Perfect Fruit. Sorry, I don’t recall where I read that, but apart from the brambles on the stems, I tend to believe it. This berry has great nutritional benefits and for the home gardener (yes, even me), the raspberry is easily harvested (the stems remain on the bush).

I’ll probably be back in the garden bed tomorrow afternoon, working again on all the weeds that have rooted their tendrils through the weed-prevention landscape fabric. I still have plenty of work to do!

But I also found some heartening news … Wikipedia tells me:  raspberries spread well, and can take over gardens if left unchecked. If they can manage to create a raspberry variety that grows year-around, perhaps I can shut off the voices in my head for good by murmuring one beautiful word − raspberry. Yum!

Renée