Well, it’s decided. I’m starting a victory garden. Victory over what, I’m not sure. Laziness, I guess. And, hopefully, my perpetual black thumb.
My previous gardening experience is as follows. A few anemic pots of herbs. A flowerbed full of flowers that never bloom (or weeds that never bloom, not sure). And a nearly grassless yard that will soon be overtaken by encroaching ferns. (However, I just discovered that the ferns might be the edible kind, which, if true, means I’ll have a lifetime supply of fiddleheads and much less to curse about.)
Last year, I tried growing strawberries in pots. I dutifully plucked off all the budding fruits to encourage more robust growth the following season. An exercise in short-term loss for long-term gain, I was told. Then, I proceeded to kill the plants sometime before the gain part. Now, I’ve learned my lesson. Let the strawberries grow. Two strawberries are better than none.
Before that, I tried my hand with blueberry bushes. I planted three because my oldest son has loved blueberries since birth, and I had images of him frolicking in the yard, plucking the tiny fruits at will. According to their tags, blueberry bushes require acidic soil. I had no idea what kind of soil we had, but I did have some leftover litmus paper from junior high, so I mixed up a batch of mud and kind of pushed the papers into it. Instead of blue or red, the papers turned a muddy shade of brown. I didn’t know what that meant since I couldn’t find my mood ring decoder. But, since my hands weren’t burning from digging around in the dirt, I took that to mean a severe lack of acid.
The garden store said to add sulfur to the soil. After reading the instructions, which made no sense, I dumped a whole bunch of the little sulfur beads onto the ground and prayed for rain. Because my husband hadn’t yet introduced me to the wonders of irrigation (What do you mean I have to water the plants. They’re outside. Isn’t that what nature’s for?).
Turns out, blueberries love sulfur. They grew. They even put out a few berries, to which the birds helped themselves before I could sprint up the hill to pick them. Then our rock walls toppled on top of all three bushes. Apparently, rock walls don’t like acidic soil. Needless to say, there’s been very little blueberry-related frolicking going on.
But despite my litany of past failures, I’m still going to give this vegetable garden thing a go. You can’t eat any more local than that. When the going gets tough, I'll have my constant fear of low blood sugar to spur me on (well, at least until I get low blood sugar). But, perhaps most importantly, I have child labor. And, this year, I’m not afraid to use it.