Tonawanda News — This is an awkward time for the Clueless Gardener.
We’re doing pretty much two things these days: waiting for the tomatoes to ripen and praying for rain. While the latter was answered by showers as I write this, I remain pessimistic that it’s going to buck the hot, dry summer trend for long.
So, as we continue to water and wait (with judicious harvests of peppers and basil), I’ve started thinking about next year.
While we hope to continue in the community garden, I’ve started mulling the possibility of growing something closer to home. Of course, the reason I opted for the community garden to begin with is that our backyard is shady and somewhat rocky ... and to my rookie gardener eyes, completely unsuitable for any sort of vegetable.
I’m starting to realize that is not necessarily the case. Raised garden beds could get us past the first problem. As for the second ... there are apparently a number of crops that do fairly well with shade. (Who knew? Not me. Some country girl I am.)
According to Mother Earth News, things generally grown for their leaves and their roots do best in these conditions. (I’m eyeing arugala and spinach and other lettuces.) The website also indicates that some herbs (chives, cilantro, garlic chives, golden marjoram, lemon balm, mint, oregano and parsley) tolerate those conditions as well. For root vegetables, we’d look mainly to carrots and potatoes. Bok choi and mesclun apparently can do all right with as little as two hours of sun a day, so maybe my family’s menu will get expanded a bit. (Never a bad thing.)
While they all still need three or four hours of sun, I think we at least get that. I’m amusing my family by lurking in our yard at odd hours on the weekends, trying to figure out how much sun any given part sees in a day. If the yield isn’t as great, we can live with that.
Our other option is container gardening, possibly in our driveway ... most of the length of which is fairly sunny and mostly unused except for bikes and kids. I don’t know what we’d use, but I’ve been looking at big terra cotta pots and a small, raised (as in, to the height of my 4-year-old), wooden bed that seems perfect for herbs. Someone has already suggested artichokes and strawberries, both ideas I absolutely love. I also like the idea of heirloom tomatoes ... though I best be sure my basic Celebrity ones turn out OK first. And I want to start composting.
So, I have to learn more about that. And how big do the pots for certain vegetables have to be? What sort of soil do you start with? What varieties of those plants are best? I have no idea.
It’s going to take some research. But as I think I’ve shown by now, I kind of like research. And now that I’ve proved to myself that I can actually tend a garden without killed it — and that my boys make excellent garden helpers — I’m willing to try.
In two weeks, I hope I return to tell you how very delicious the first tomatoes from our garden tasted. Wish us luck.
Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at email@example.com.Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.