In years past, we’ve tried futilely to grow a variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers in our designated garden areas of our yard. Each year, some part of that has been a tremendous disappointment. Part of the issue is the soil itself. We have a large evergreen tree in the back yard that provides and excess of shade, an excess of protection from rainfall, and an excess of needles that lend a terrible acidity to the soil. Between not getting enough shade, not getting enough rain and poor nutrient values in the soil, everything we plant has a terrible time trying to grow.
We’ve tried several things over the last few years. Much more regular watering helps, obviously. We’ve added better quality soil to try and make the soil better for growing. We’ve even fertilized the plants. Each year, something happens to throw the wrench in the cogs. Last year, we had a major slug infestation, and what did grow was quickly eaten by the slimy creatures. With each year’s problems, we learn something new that we won’t repeat in future years. Last year, we learned that, while fallen leaves do provide good insulation for plants over the winter, a abnormally wet spring makes them a wonderful breeding bed for slugs. Maybe, after we’ve learned enough lessons, we’ll finally get a decent crop out of our garden. Until then, we’re changing it up a bit.
This year, we’re giving a container garden a go. We purchased several (8-10) containers of various sizes and shapes, filled them with potting soil and topsoil and purchased all the seeds we thought we might need for the year.
I started the seeds nice and early (perhaps a bit too early) and quickly encountered my failure for the year. Not only did very few of the seeds sprout, but those that did quickly died and began to mold. Nothing that I grew in that first batch of seeds is currently still with us. I bought some different seed starting supplies, and tried again. I got slightly better results, and a majority of those seeds survived. Any that still didn’t grow, I replaced with plants from a nursery.
So far, we’re only a few weeks into the growing season, but several of our containers are doing quite well. The potato planters are growing very well, and the onions (note: all not seeds that I started.) are doing well. Of the things that I started as seeds, the only things that are really doing well so far are the carrots. But, the other stuff is growing, and hopefully, will continue to.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the financial side of all of this a bit. When you stop to consider the burden of having to buy most of the supplies this first year, it would have been far more economical to just buy the produce from the farmer’s market. But, should we pull it off, and produce a good enough crop, we’ll continue it in future years. Each successive year will make it a bit cheaper, as most of the containers and supplies are reusable. This year, it’s probably creeping up to about $100 in total expenses, but next year will likely be a lot closer to the $20-$30 mark. For $20-$30, the produce grown will be very cheap compared to what we could get it for at the farmer’s market. Plus, it will have that little extra bit of flavor that gets added from having grown it yourself.
How do you garden? Do you have the luxury of a large plot for a garden, or do you make do with containers? Do you have any great tips for container gardening (or gardening in the presence of a evergreen) that you’d care to share?