Like gardeners everywhere, I'm starting to dream about this year's growing season. I'm dreaming about the seeds and seedlings I'll buy this year, and what I'll be able to harvest throughout the summer. I'm dreaming about tools I'd like to buy, and anything I can do to make this year's garden easier and more productive. It's sort of like dreaming of a white Christmas, except I'm hoping it will be more like a green June instead.
Of course, the best way to plan this year's garden is to revisit the disasters of the year before, with hopes that I'll learn my lessons. While it's not fun to think back on the angst of the garden of 2011, it's absolutely necessary in order to grow (pardon the pun) as a gardener. So, I'll take a deep breath and get started.
Keeping the garden managable is top priority for me in 2012. Last year, the garden was much too big. While I was thrilled to have enough space to accomodate several varieties of vining plants along with the host of other vegetables I planted with friends, I completely neglected to consider how much space the plants would require, and ended up wasting valuable space as a result. Careful planning of the garden ahead of time would have eliminated this problem. I could have saved some money from the rent that was paid on the gardens (and what gardener doesn't want to make gardening as economical as possible?).
Not only could I have space, but I could have saved myself a lot of effort as well. The 300 square feet of garden I ended up with required regular watering during a serious heat wave we had (see Recycled 11/9/11: Tomatoes! ), but that wasn't the worst of it. I actually love watering plants with the watering wand I have; it's actually sort of a spiritual experience.
But the weeding was ridiculous, and I just could not keep up with it. I ended up mulching with straw to keep the weeds under control. This also helped with retaining soil moisture, but it looked terrible, especially because I knew what lay beneath. I would feel real envy at I looked at the well maintained plot my fellow gardener enjoyed, all the while noticing and noting that she had 200 square feet less space to maintain than I did. This year, I plan to cut back on the size of the garden by planting fewer vining plants, and picking up a few extras at the farmers' market instead. It will be more efficient, and a lot less frustrating as well.