It’s always easier to look back than it is to look ahead. I just had a quick peek at the bits I wrote about our garden earlier this year. There were 3-4 blogs about gardening before we put a seed in the ground and now, here we are, technically it’s still summer but everybody knows what comes next. Fall. Although the season isn’t over and we have yet to sit down and conduct an objective “lessons learned” review of our community garden plot-here’s some initial observations (objective or not).
Gardening by the numbers:
- 102-number of days between the day we started planning and today. That’s days for germination to harvest to date (some plants were supposed to have been started weeks before we got seeds into the ground….sounds like I am rationalizing-and I am)
- 2448-number of hours in the 102 days for rain, sun, wind, humidity and other forces of nature to embrace our bit of dirt
- 1000-square feet in our plot
- 2-number of friends who have dug, planted, bent over, cut, pruned, weeded, tenderly handled, hoed, covered, perspired, commiserated and enjoyed the past 102 days
- 1,298-at a minimum-the number of potato beetles we sent to their just reward
Gardening by the adjectives
- Beautiful-the few flowers that graced our land. There were Shasta daisies earlier in the year and now sunflowers. Those sunflowers ended up being robust plants-to the point that they provided too much shade in some areas. We know that now for next year and we will adjust.
- Marginal (economists love the term)-the overall yield we harvested this year compared to our hopes. If I remember correctly we had dreams of bountiful crops-lots for us, lots for friends. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that we haven’t enjoyed produce along the way. A recent article in the Globe and Mail “Cashing in on an Urban Garden” mirrors our experience to some degree-except her yield was bountiful.
- Adequate-our yield-enough for several meals but not a winter’s keep-recently we dug up carrots, onions, potatoes and took home more swiss chard. But fair to say compared to some neighbours our harvest was meagre. There are more vegetables yet to be harvested -this gives you an idea of our “take”.
Gardening accident-what are the chances
- After digging up the vegetables you see above I took the fork and shoved it into the ground and took off my gardening gloves. There-we got that done! I need a statistics expert to help me to put the accident in context. Now there are 144,000 square inches in our 1,000 square foot plot. There are 4 tines on the garden fork-each no longer than 1 inch wide. Our garden hose is 3/4 of an inch wide. What are the chances then, that when I plunged the fork into the straw and the ground that one tine would go straight through our garden hose!! Excellent…that’s what the chances were-excellent. We are starting our list of purchases for next year-a garden hose is on the list.
Gardening wisdom (learned this year so far)
- Gardening takes time….lots of time. Don’t take on a 1,000 square foot garden unless you will be able to dedicate time to keep on top of things.
- Next year holds great promise. Next year we’ll start sooner. Next year we’ll do this differently, next year we’ll do that instead of this. Next year the weather will be different. Next year.
- It is about the experience. Time with a friend, time to chat (while hunched over a row picking weeds and bugs). Meeting gardening neighbours and learning from their experience and their wisdom. It’s the smell of the dirt, the joy of watching things grow and the discussion about why they aren’t (usually we pin the lack of success on the soil and the weather this year-not on the two of us who are tending the soil).
- And from our neighbour Kahlil who has tended the same plot for 30 years. He is there day after day convening with nature and visiting with neighbours. From him came perhaps the wisest of statements. “Every year I put in $1,000 and I take out $500!”
For those of you who have gardened, who garden now or know things about gardening, we welcome all advice and commiseration. Are there great references or on-line forums we should be checking out? We are all ears and we didn’t even try to grow corn.