Dreaming of the garden

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Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

Every year around this time I start thinking about what I want to plant in my garden.

I always have lofty goals and imagine making feasts from what I’ve grown. I figure people used to live off the land, so maybe I could in part as well.

Usually these dreams are squished around the same time I’m picking up over-ripened tomatoes or discarded, half-eaten vegetables a swarm of bugs or neighborhood raccoon decided to leave behind.

I tend to grow too much in too small of a space. Sometimes it works and I’m left with too many tomatoes or zucchini. Other times, a plant I had hoped would produce bountiful results gets lost in the mess.

I also tend to overcorrect. I worry that the soil is too dry, so I end up overwatering. Or I think a recent rainfall should sustain the plants for several days, only to find them withering away.

Then there’s the plants that you think will be fun to grow, but when you actually have success, you have no idea what to do with them. Case in point, rhubarb.

I have no idea what to do with rhubarb other than make a strawberry rhubarb pie, which by the way, is the most delicious pie if you ever come across one at the bakery. However, making a pie is a whole other feat.

I’m the first to admit, I do not have a green thumb.

Yet every year at this time I daydream about what plants will fill my 12-foot-by-12-foot plat, hoping this year will be the year when my thumb turns green.

If you’re like me, and despite hope in the spring always find yourself hopeless come summer, I found a few tips courtesy of One Green Planet, a publishing platform for growing an eco-conscious generation.

Start small. As the site pointed out, it’s exciting to dream of all the produce and flowers you’ll be growing.

However, it’s always best to start small and not spend tons of money on expensive tools and plants, especially if your goal is to save money on your grocery bill. Otherwise, you can end up spending way more time and money had you hopped in the car.

Consider your resources. The site says three things plants need to thrive are nutrients, water and sun, so it’s important to make sure you have all of those. One of the things I assumed at first was soil is soil. Not true. Not all are created equal. Some soil can be too dry and clay-like, and may need compost or fertilizers.

Get the right tools. Don’t be me. Don’t get distracted by the shiny garden gadgets. If you’re just starting out, you really only need something to work the soil like a trowel and possibly a hand rake. If you have a larger area to water, you might want to utilize a hose rather than a watering can, and a small pruner and gardening gloves are great add-ons.

Plant what you love. I can’t emphasize and agree with this point enough. Case in point: rhubarb, which by the way, comes back year after year.

Plant what grows where you live. Ohio climate is certainly going to be different than Florida climate in the spring.

You’ll want to be aware of when is too early and when is too late to plant certain items so your hard work pays off.

Take notes and experiment. It’s easy to forget year to year how one plant did versus another. One Green Planet recommends experimenting with a little trial and error, whether it’s how a plant does in a certain light or when certain types of insects appear. Take notes and whether your remedy worked, and if you are still stumped, reach out to local gardening groups for help.

Keep trying. No matter how much you fail, you’re bound to have some success. One year I had a great bounty of zucchini. The next, not so much. One year I had three strawberries grow. The next, at least 6 pints. I’m hopeful that number goes up again this year. Regardless, if you love gardening, don’t give up. The reward of picking that perfect fruit or vegetable is worth the effort!

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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