I got on someone's blog today and it really just sorta hacked me off.
Maybe it's that I'm tired of being colder than I'd like to be, and I'm concerned about a few nights coming up with temperatures in the teens and us a couple of old sitting ducks here with no heat except for the fireplace insert, or that I'm not sleeping very well these days because of said inoperative heating system. Oh, we're warm enough in our bed. There are plenty of blankets and there's a nice heavy comforter to go on top of everything else, that I made some years ago out of jeans legs and the grandsons' outgrown karate pants and jackets. Downstairs, as long as we stay in the living room we're warm. It's just that I like to be in other rooms, away from the constant drone of the TV, and it's cold enough in all those places to be uncomfortable for me. *Sigh*. I know it's only temporary. But it's getting harder and harder not to be grumpy. No call from the HVAC man, I will be calling him soon. He told me the new coil might arrive today.
Or maybe it is that I've seen too many times how much more frustrating it can be to try to garden when you think YOU are the only one having troubles. The first summer after I retired, when I took up gardening seriously, I was extremely frustrated when my Jalapeno pepper plants sat there, all bushy and healthy-looking, but didn't bear much of anything while everyone on the garden forum where I hung out were complaining about how they had so many Jalapeno's that they didn't know what to do with them. I remember thinking darkly how I could probably think of at least ONE thing for them to do with them....
But anyway, now, today, I see this blog written by a man and his wife, who have full-time jobs and they've made raised beds in their back yards "in their spare time" that produce, if you believe the pictures from what I believe is supposed to be last year, absolutely blemish-free vegetables in large quantities with hardly any work on their part except to keep the beds mulched. They say it's easy if you just follow the steps they outline. So easy, in fact, that anyone can do it with hardly any outlay of money. Oh, PUH-LEEEEEEZE. The fact is that they've monetized their blog and almost everybody likes to read about idyllic conditions better than raw reality, so that's what they write.
I guess that couple doesn't have Bermuda grass or Bindweed, they don't have pests of the bug or animal kind, and they make blanket statements such as how a garden will not ever do well if it is not in full sun. I looked on their "About" to try to find out where they live and it doesn't say. But FOR SURE they don't live in Oklahoma. If you don't give your tomatoes and peppers at least some afternoon shade, that hot July sun will burn big ol' brown spots on their shoulders.
I must confess that I don't spend a large amount of time working in my garden unless I am having to water. Most of the other time I spend in the garden is mulching, and I use shredded leaves and wood chips, because I can get these two things easily and free.
Last spring, I lost all my squash to squash bugs. Yes, I did make an effort. I covered them with row cover as soon as they had leaves big enough to draw the moth that apparently lays the eggs. And then one day I discovered squash bugs ALL OVER the plants, UNDER the row cover. I guess somehow they just found their way under. So I was desperate. I've tried other methods and they don't work. All those homemade recipes that call for hot pepper powder and dish soap, burn the bejeezers out of tender, new leaves as soon as the sun hits it. Sometimes the plant will recover, but geeze. It's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In 2013 the squash bugs killed every squash plant I had and then they went on and killed my Nest Egg gourd and my cukes and melons. I mean, I went out twice a day and found them sunning themselves on the little gourds, which were still hanging on the lifeless vine, and for some reason was their favorite place. I would wrap a rag around each gourd and squish six to eight squash bugs at a time. It was like slaying a Seven Headed Dragon. So to Hell with that. This time I went to Lowe's and bought some Sevin Dust and that killed off all the squash bugs before they got to my melons and cukes. The melons were volunteer, apparently from seeds from the under-ripe melons that were on dead plants after the devastation of the previous summer. So I had two big, beautiful, sweet Crimson watermelons and two or three that were smaller. I had a bumper crop of wonderful Burpless Muncher cucumbers that I ate with Ranch dressing, or made into pickles, or gave to neighbors until they wouldn't take any more.
I planted more squash, in an effort to have a fall crop. They had to be planted in August and it was so hot that they didn't come up very well. I kept an eye on the ones that did, watered them at least once every day, covered them in shade cloth to protect them from getting eaten down to the ground by the grasshoppers, which were almost as long as my pinkie finger. But we had an early first frost and so I only got a small crop from most of the plants, none at all from some of the others.
I spoke to other gardeners who had raccoons or squirrels in their corn, or moles and voles or gophers digging tunnels in their gardens and ruining their root crops. Then there are the deer that everybody thinks are so beautiful. What they can do if they can get into your garden and/or your yard will cause you to look at deer in a whole new way, let me tell you. My little new Shumate oak tree that I bought at the Garden Club Plant Sale is now completely gone. We watered it through the whole summer. It got nibbled on by rabbits and we built a chicken-wire barrier and set it inside the big tomato cage that makes it visible enough so no one will drive their vehicle over it. We've lost several trees like that before. Before I got my garden fence, I even had trouble with the neighbors' dogs pooping and digging and tromping around on their big dog feet, in my garden. I probably didn't have rabbits or rats with them around, but it was a pretty high price to pay. Some people have problems with armadillos or skunks. One of my friends lost everything because a farmer neighbor chose to spray his fields with herbicide and she got the overdrift. Another friend's garden developed nematodes, not the beneficial kind.
I'm not trying to discourage you, but I'm here to tell you that you can do everything right in your garden and still have dismal failures. But I don't want to build up your expectations, either. Failures are easier to tolerate when you know there will be some. Some years, all you can grow in your garden is tired. Then you just have to let yourself be comforted with the fact that you got some exercise out in the sun and fresh air, and maybe you learned some things that may or may not help you avoid some problems down the road. I'm often reminded of a story I read somewhere, a long time ago, about a little old dried-up farmer who sat at his produce stand along the road. A young woman stopped to buy. "My goodness," she said, "Your vegetables are so beautiful and delicious-looking!" The little old man looked at her out from under his bushy eyebrows and said quietly, "It don't come easy...."
Just so ya know.