Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Brownish / Green Thumb

Most winters, I look at garden catalogs, excitedly planning and plotting for the growing year ahead. I have always liked the idea of a garden as a part of our lives, of our homeschooling, and as a contributor to our food. This year, for some reason, I just couldn't muster up the effort to care. I think I was just sick of the failure. Every summer for the past few years, in the height of the growing season, when all the booths at the Framers Market are full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and all my gardening friends have bumper crops of tomatoes and squash, I am lamenting what horrible luck I have with my garden. 

The heat is oppressive, my soil is rocky and infertile, I can't keep up with the watering, and things shrivel up in the sun and die. I have actually lost multiple fruit trees from sunburn. Who knew trees could get a fatal sunburn? Every year, I keep trying, and every year, large numbers of plants in my care die a dry and painful looking death. I don't even want to think about how much money I have spent on plants that didn't make it, and I certainly don't want my husband to think about it. Nor do I want him to think about how many holes he has dug which now occupy dead twigs. Sometimes the plants live, but look awful all summer, and don't produce anything edible, so what good does that do me in my quest for self sufficiency? What kind of botanical lessons am I giving my children?

Well, now, it's almost spring, and it's really hard to feel bad about the garden in spring. This is the time of year when everything is green and full of life, and the fact that I live in a beautiful place is very much everywhere I look. While sipping my morning coffee in my overgrown and neglected flower and herb beds with a cat the other morning, I began to notice how many things were not only alive, but blooming and thriving.

And- many of them were actually things I had planted! So, I don't kill everything- lots of things I try to grow die- BUT, lots of things live too, and many of them are doing really well- especially the hardy herbs, like the rosemary above with the happy bee, and the tasty sage, and the fragrant lavender, and the refreshing mint.

I feel like an herb advertisement!

But wait....... there's more.

I have a few vegetables that have managed to live here on our Rocky Ridge Farm as well.

This beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard is apparently being appreciated by some insects since the plants have a few holes in them, but they are alive and thriving after several seasons of neglect, and we harvest bunches daily. It's an amazing plant  that just keeps coming back year after year. It usually looks pretty good, it is very low maintenance, and  it provides us with lots of tasty greens- it really is a miracle plant in my case.

And then there's this bunch of lettuce that my daughter forgot she planted last fall. We also found some forgotten radishes that didn't look so good, but made a decent addition to a salad. The lettuces were the base of the salad, and a very pleasant surprise at the end of winter. Kids are always proud when they grow something that makes it to the dinner table, and adults are too.  I get a satisfaction out of contributing to our sustenance, even if only in very small bits. I may not have a green thumb, but I guess it's not as brown as I thought either. I decided to call it a lovely brownish-green hue, which means I'll probably buy more plants, and while the weak and high maintenance types may not make it, a few strong super hardy specimens will survive and be a part of my next harvest.
I don't think we'll be living off the land any time soon, but we will be enjoying what we've grown nonetheless.
If else anyone has any amazingly hardy plants to recommend (that can tolerate hot and dry climates,) I'd love to hear about them.