Putting aside the complete disaster that my back garden is right now – being full of dead leaves and construction debris:
I have written before of my complete incompetence in the field of horticulture – from my ignorance of what a narcissus is to my failure to correctly identify hyacinth to killing everything I’ve planted in the planters in front of the house (except for mums – the mums I planted this year are doing great, though I’m sure I’ve neglected to do something vital to them that will make them become zombie plants or something).
My excuse for being a crap gardener has always been that a) my mother retained control over her garden with an iron fist, so I never learned, and b) I don’t really care. But I suspect the answer is really:
c) I’ve never had to learn.
I didn’t learn more than the most basic cooking skills from my mother, either. But 12 years of cooking for myself combined with a variety of dietary restrictions conspired to make me a pretty good cook. Because you might have nothing but a hot plate and a toaster oven, but you still have to eat. Gardening is not only completely optional, it is impossible without the combination of outdoor space, good light, and free time.
Anyway, this year I decided I’d put a bit more effort into the garden, specifically in growing some food. I had extremely low expectations – our backyard is surrounded by tall, rather menacing trees which shed white fluff for a couple weeks in the spring, making the light situation iffy, and I imagine the soil has something wrong with it. How could it not?
So I researched (well, Googled) shade-tolerant plants, and this is what I planted:
– Swiss chard
I also planted some tomato and egglant seeds in a planter on the upper deck, but I sort of forgot about them once I got pregnant and reluctant to go up the extremely poorly-constructed outside stairs.
So these are the results:
– The swiss chard grew pretty well, and we even ate some of it. Some of it got eaten by some kind of bug. If I knew what I were doing I could have sprayed it with a soap solution or something, but see point a).
– The spinach died.
– The peas REALLY died.
– The beets looked like they were doing OK, but when I tried to harvest them the roots hadn’t grown at all. But they weren’t dead – they somehow or other remained in stasis for three months. Don’t ask me how.
The tomatoes and egglants predictably failed to thrive, but like I said I was expecting that.
So for the $20 or so I spent on plants I got a return of approximately 1 bunch of swiss chard, which would have cost me about $1.99 at the grocery store.
Oh well – next year I’ll plant all hardy leafy greens, since they seem to do well. Or I’ll do nothing at all and let it return to the wild.