Saturday, June 9, 2012

The State of the Garden

a pea plant growing beneath the sunchokes looking a little like a butterfly
Michelle Obama's book, American Grown, about the Whitehouse kitchen garden, was recently released.  Her garden looks impeccably well planned and kept... like I might have my garden in a utopian world. But she has a massive team of people whose entire job is to try make that garden the show garden of the nation.

I, on the other hand, like many gardeners I know, have a real garden, a neglected garden with great ideals that began it, but that were set aside for other currently more important things.  My distractions were finishing the homeschool year and raising new baby animals on our farm.  My brother asked me earlier this year if I could live off my garden.  No way.  It's too easy to take a trip to Costco.  In my utopia, there is a root cellar that's full and canning and freezing that will feed my family all year, as well as a four season garden.  In my reality, the food we grow is still at hobby level.

I think it happens like this every year.  In January I have lofty goals, and by June, the reality sets in that there is only one Angie and about 12 projects I've immersed myself in.  So the reality of the state of this year's garden is such:  it is a product of many mistakes, much learning, failed ideas and successes, plans waylayed and new plans implemented.  It's an ecosystem of weeds and garden plants, certainly not a sterile showplace, but it's a haven for me.  I can walk into it and lose three hours, coming back feeling invigorated instead of spent.

There is always more I wish I had done, and gardens I wish mine were like, but in the end, my garden is a reflection of me: haphazard, surprising and completely unique.  I think I would feel out of place with perfectly spaced cabbages, beautifully framed by flawless lettuces.  Instead, give me my bolting mustard and radishes, my maturing garlic, my carrots of various ages, and my mulches of every kind.  They give me something to mull over, to improve on.  What fun would it be if the state of the garden was already perfection?

The first hollyhock I've ever grown successfully has come back this year
this is the year of peas I guess.  I was given extra seed, so i planted them everywhere...even alongside our fence
The tomatoes are doing very well.  They are thick stalked and happy.  The 4 plants from my original starts are the same size as the ones my brother gave me to save the day.  They very much like the mini greenhouse and some are flowering.  I need to make a real green house, however.  The tomato cages become watertowers whenever it rains!

It is impossible to resist a picture of the yucca plant.  It is so boisterous!

Irises.  I think Irises and poppies are all I need.  And lilacs.  Well, and maybe gardenias, but those don't grow here.  
Wild blackberry.  Looks like I planned it to be there.

poppy sky

maia wanted to show me the poppy pod
look how carefully the bamboo protects its newest side shoot
Raspberries!!! And they said it couldn't be done in my wet and sodden soil!  happy day!

Saraiah started a garden in the middle of the grass, planting a bean plant from school and a few peas.  I protected it with some baling twine and sticks, mulched it and planted a ring of sunflowers and peas to grow up them.  She should have a tiny fort, just big enough for her.

Saraiah's peas

peas and sunchokes
koa found an earthworm beneath the mulch

feeding mommy salmonberries

berry picking

the fruit trees have a few little fruits on them


Beanpoles with beans planted at the poles and squash beneath, protected from crows and dogs by chicken wire. Pea trellis to the right.  Weeds to the left and sprinkled liberally around.  LOTS of potatoes.

pumpkins, a volunteer potato and lots of weeds

I know why the caged bean sings.


potato madness!

Something thinks the potato leaves are nutritious

training the pea tendrils



some sort of brassica.  I think it's cabbage.

Hawaiian bunching onions

the pathetic onion row

tomato in a burlap bag

red cabbage

super depressing. Planted cucumbers here and all of it has been eaten or got cooked by the sun.  :(






Chamomile with a liberal sprinkling of chickweed


  1. Your garden is amazing!!!!!! Love it. Are you eating those pea tendrils and garlic scapes? So yummy! It is nice to have comraderie behind the chicken wire. Chicken wire nd bird netting will mostly likely be the end of me. Ugh. Some day we will be able to put a real deer fence in. Some day. Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

  2. I never thought of eating pea tendrils. that would be fun. The garlic isn't sending up any scapes, so i can't eat them. Yeah, I have to figure out something to protect my poor cucumbers if they will even have time to grow. i wanted to do the black plastic so they would be warm enough but managed to kill them off. I may cut the holes bigger and cover with chicken wire.

  3. My garden is so tiny!! Yours is amazing.


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