For now. The thing about gardening is that you have to consistently do it over and over again. Especially out here in the desert, if you leave your garden alone, it will die. And all the love, time and effort you’ve put into it for the past few months (or a year–I go my mater seedlings last August!) will have been wasted.
This year was the first year I’ve gardened in the desert. I grew up in the Land God Loves (also known as Virginia, where it rains and where plants grow without constant attention) and never really had a problem gardening. You kind of plant whatever you want to grow, weed every day or every other day, and it’s all peachy. It turns out that’s not true when you’re 3200 feet closer to the sun and it doesn’t rain consistently. I mean, we’ve had a pretty rainy summer all things considered, but “pretty rainy” in Utah would be a drought in Virginia. People here think thunderstorms are an anomaly. What this all boils down to with gardening is that you need hardy plants. Plants that can withstand some pretty intense heat and can go for periods without water without dying. My squash and peas did really well from seed (until I killed my peas by not picking them…but that’s what happens when you neglect your garden…). I got peas from my pea plants and they were quite hardy, once I stopped weeding my zucchini plants they have begun to grow, and one has blossomed and another couple are just about to. Blossoms mean that I will soon get zucchinis, which makes me very happy. I have about 7 zuchinni plants.
On the other hand, the bell pepper plants that I started from seed (way back in March) did not do so well. I started them indoors and they didn’t grow very well or very large. After starting with something like 17 pepper seedlings, I got about 10 little bitty pepper plants to transfer into larger pots, and ended up planting about 6 of them in the ground. I now have one left. And I don’t think that it will give me any peppers. Next year if I’m in Utah during the summer, I will buy pepper plants (instead of starting from seed) that are larger and less sensitive to the climate and transplants and go with them.
I will also buy tomato plants instead of starting them from seed. I think that the fact that both my original tomato plant and the cutting I made from it are growing so well is a blessing of magnanimous proportions from the heavens, especially since I neglected them for most of the winter. I did learn that if you water your tomatoes every other day instead of every day, you get more fruit. Thanks to this timely advice, I now have a number of green tomatoes hanging on my plants.
My onions did ok. That period of neglect with my pea plants also killed a number of my onions, but I also didn’t plant enough close enough together. I have two little onion plants that I’m still nursing along, hoping that I will get at least two onions for all of my effort.
The upside of all of this is that since I started everything from seed, I spent something like 10 dollars on the whole gardening endeavor. Even if all I get for it is 10,000 zucchini (I know how prolifically those things grow) a few tomatoes and two onions, it will be worth it for everything that I’ve learned.
I am now a less abysmal desert gardener than I was at the beginning of the summer. I feel like I should get an achievement or something. Can I go up a level in Gardening?