But I see these raised beds several times a day. They’re right there, every time I walk into or out of the house. I couldn’t simply ignore them. At first, this just led to ineffective flailing and a great deal of bellyaching. Until one day Arne – no doubt exasperated with me, but patient as always – said, “This garden will not outsmart us. It’s a solvable problem. Let’s solve it.”
So solve it we did. We went to work with gardening books and magnifying glasses and websites. In response to what we found, I mixed up some homemade soap-and-oil spray – nothing more than tiny amounts of vegetable oil, baking soda, and dish soap in a lot of water – and used it regularly. We added a lot more fertilizer to the soil. We scanned the tomato plants every day for baby hornworms and other pests.
And the plants greened up and started to reach for the sky. I tried some other things, like mixing milk I would otherwise have thrown away with water and giving it to the tomatoes – calcium helps prevent blossom-end rot, they say – and watched with delight as the tomatoes set tons of fruit.
Not everything has gone so well. I panicked in response to unexplained wilting of my melon plant and accidentally cut off the vine that had sprouted one of just two melons that actually set. (The other one is growing beautifully, and I think I have controlled the pest problem that caused the wilting.) Two of the tomato plants will probably never be more than stunted sprouts. And when I walked by a neighbor’s yard recently and looked at their garden beds, I was struck with envy; their tomatoes and eggplants were four times the size of mine and pumping out fruit.
But I’ve harvested two delicious eggplants, with more coming. We’ve eaten one tomato salad almost entirely from our own fruit; the Amish Salad and Green Zebra tomatoes are going to town, and most of the other plants are sporting several green fruits. The beans look great – I should get my first harvest of them soon. And whenever I want I can walk outside and cut fresh thyme, marjoram, oregano, savory, parsley, apple mint, and three kinds of basil. The flowers are perking up too (except the nasturtiums, which won’t grow past one-inch sprouts).
And it’s beautiful. Neighbors tell me so all the time as they walk past. Best of all, I’m already excited for next year – it’s going to be even better.