I am writing this to myself in late August of 2009. It is set to publish now, in March of 2010. I may very well have forgotten about it by now. I also probably won't remember these specific things by now, which is why I'm writing them in August 2009. Call it my own personal little time machine - I'm heading off into the future to tell myself things that I need to remember later on.
So this is just between me, myself and I - but you might do well to heed the warnings I'm going to give myself if you have gardening aspirations for Summer 2010.
Cathy - it's spring now, and knowing you as only I do, you've undoubtedly thought about buying seeds (if you haven't bout them already) and starter sets, potting soil, etc. You are sure you want a garden, mostly because you are so sick of winter you could throw up and you just want to get out there and dig it up. After all, you tucked it away last fall, tilled in good stuff and covered it in mulch, put away cages and fencing. And I get that you think it's time to start thinking about the new garden to come. But stop and think. Think REALLY hard about whether or not you REALLY want a garden again this year. Really. Think it over. IF you decide to proceed anyway, remember these things:
1) Don't buy seeds. Nope, don't. Just. Don't. You know they don't grow for shit because you don't water them regularly enough, or you water them too much, whatever; and the kids don't keep their fingers out of them, and then the ones that DO grow, grow too fast and you don't get them in in time. Just buy transplants. It's cheaper in the long run. Fine, it's not, but do it anyway. Forget the seeds. Put them down. DOWN. I don't care if Menard's already had them out and they're on sale and they're organic and pretty and promise a hearty yield.
2) Four tomato plants is too many. Way too many. Unless you've purchased canning equipment by now, March of 2010 (which I doubt), you don't need dozens and dozens of tomatoes sitting on your counter. Ya just don't. TWO plants is the maximum you should plant. Maximum. I mean it. If they both die, it's just not meant to be.
3) Don't plant cucumbers. You and Greg like about 2 meals of cucumbers and then you're over them. And again, unless you've gotten a canner and the necessary accoutrements purchased, you're not making pickles any time soon. Get a few from the farmers' market in July and move on.
4) Don't plant onions. They don't grow well in this soil, you've tried several times.
5) Plant more green beans. Like two or three rows. They were nice last summer to get enough for a meal every week or so, but those are something we SHOULD grow lots of and freeze, because we actually, you know, EAT green beans all year 'round. They're not sexy, but now you know why Mom had rows and rows of them.
6) One squash hill. ONE. O-N-E. And it'll still be too much, unless it ends up like the weirdo moldy one. Then you're just screwed. But again - that's what farmers' markets are for.
7) Don't ever use black landscaping tarp in the garden again. The grass mulch you used last year worked just as well, didn't blow and whip all over (like the tarp did when the thieving little squirrels ripped it out of the ground), and is FREE.
8) The expensive, stinky rabbit repellent works best, so if you were smart enough to bring it in the house out of the garden shed (so that it hasn't frozen and been rendered useless over the winter), get ready to use it. Use it early, use it often. Just keep the dogs away from it, they love the stuff for some ungodly reason. It's made of rotten eggs and assholes, or some shit like that. Which might explain why the Great Poopeaters enjoy it.
9) Last year: tomatoes on the west end, vines on the east. This year: swap them.
10) Greg just reminded me of this one: NO RADISHES. I think Greg ate one. The rest ended up in the trash. I know they're a quick yield and that feels good, but seriously - skip 'em. Keep your eye on the prize.
11) The whole point of a garden is to save money on food. So in summary: don't buy more than you need, don't buy more than you'll use, don't plant stuff you don't love to eat and preserve; in short, keep it simple.
Happy Gardening, to me and everyone else. It's almost spring!