We always had a garden when I was growing up. Actually, at our house in Ankeny, the garden got so big it was two tiers, was completely fenced in with a nice wooden fence, and had its own sprinkler system. It was awesome. Unfortunately, it also had recurring tomato blight problems. But still. I was the gardener, sharing the duties with my dad, and then handing them completely back over to him when I left. I loved the garden. Beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, corn. Yum. Most of our veggies just rotted on the counter rather than actually being consumed, now that I think about it. I spent a large chunk of my summers washing out the stinking, gnat-infested produce bowl.
So I always imagined I’d get my own marvelous garden.
I did have a nice-sized garden in our backyard. The first few years, it actually did grow some things, too. And we ate them. Then I started devoting less time to the garden, but in addition to that, it just stopped growing things. We surmised it to be a combination of three factors: the hedge getting taller and blocking out the southern sun, the walnut tree getting massively bigger and blocking out, well, any sun at all, and the Walnut tree being a walnut tree. Walnut trees don’t really let most other plants grow very well around them. And so it was fine the first few years, when the Walnut tree was still some distance away, but as it grew, it overtook our garden.
We had the same problems every year – things would grow OK…if you were from the Lollipop Guild. We had teeny tiny peppers growing on teeny tiny pepper plants. I had really small pea plants producing very small crops of very small pea pods. Our carrots were all wee tiny carrots.
So when we were looking for a good place for Wally’s play structure, I didn’t hesitate to offer up my garden space. And so we tore out the fencing (rabbits) and put the swingset right where the peppers used to (not) grow.
Since we had also just put in a fence, I figured I’d give the yard a year or so, and I’d keep an eye on the rest of the potential garden spots to evaluate their suitability. And this is how I’ve come to discover that my yard has absolutely no place for a garden. (Well, not entirely true. There is a nice spot on the public side of the fence…but I’m not going to garden out there.)
Honestly, that should have been obvious to us. We can’t grow grass to save our lives. Why? Well, we don’t water for one, but even if we did water, grass also needs sunlight to grow, and there just isn’t any sunlight in the yard for any length of time. Sure, there are patches here and there, fleeting spots of sun that slip away after a few hours in the afternoon. Nothing that gets enough sun, though.
So it’s entirely possible that I will never have a vegetable garden. And that makes me sad. I’ll have to turn to container gardening, I guess, but even then, where on earth will I put the containers?
I should note for the record that I do have a “flower” garden, but the garden is directly under the walnut tree, so it grows really nice greenery, but no actual flowers. I also have a lovely herb garden right outside the kitchen door. If I can commit to a firm watering schedule, I could probably grow some vegetables there, but I hate to sully my herbs by mixing them with vegetables. And we also have two vast weed patches in the front, which we are trying to turn into wildflower patches, but those effing wildflowers just won’t grow there for some reason. We’re slowly making headway, though. Last year, we got about 8 plants to grow, this year we’ve added 3 more. Give us another 80 years, baby, and those patches will look good.