My Garden: A Before & After in Progress

Lush. Fragrant. Captivating. Those are words that I wish described my garden. They just don’t quite capture it, though. Not really. Not yet. I find that temperamental, frustrating and fickle might be better describers.

But let me back up.

When we first moved into this house I was probably most excited about the outdoor space. We no longer had a tiny balcony that looked out over a dusty shared driveway and a fence, but not we had a HUGE fenced in patio with several large gardening areas where I could grow things. It was going to be my own oasis, a flowering escape complete with thriving fruits and veggies, cushiony seats to lounge on and a string a lights to welcome any gathering.

Some of that has worked out. In some ways, our back patio and garden area is a huge success. I mean, it is still huge (thankfully that can’t change) and it is a great place to gather, but the garden…oof! I’ve been meaning to do this whole before and after post for the entire time we’ve lived here, but then I’d wait another week, hoping that this section would come back to life or that section would start flowering. Sigh. Today I decided it was time to just post this and let you all in on my gardening struggles.

When we moved in, all of the garden was completely overgrown with weeds. It took me a full day to clear out all of the overgrowth and weeds just from two small 5’x5′ sections. In one area I had to ask for J’s help to remove the root of one horribly giant weed which had — and I promise this isn’t an exaggeration — 20 lb roots.

the garden before and after weeding

Then there was the planting. I decided to keep on bed all flowers and the other, fruits and veggies. I planted tiny bell and jalapeno pepper plants, a blueberry bush, a dwarf lime tree and herbs — basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme. I planted a pallet garden that I’d seen on Pinterest with all sorts of pretty flowers and greens. I watered it all… and then I watched it all look like it was dying.

Literally, for the first two weeks that everything was in the ground it looked dead. But I kept watering and weeding and reading up on each plant and praying that it would survive. And, miraculously, most of it did. Kinda.

I don’t think I’ve ever had all areas of the garden thriving at the same time. The snapdragons looked amazing for about….. 4 days. Now they look brown and dead, despite no change in watering. All of the other flowers have gone through various cycles of withering and blooming for no apparent reasons. The pallet garden got oohs and aahs from neighbors for the first month until it, too, started to brown and die. (Side note– the pallet garden IS a fun project but next time I will either a.) only plant flowers that are hard to kill and don’t need much water since it’s hard to keep the pallet properly wet or b) only plant succulents — every time I went out of town the whole pallet of flowers withered because only the top area was getting water. Ugh.)

The veggie garden has fared better than most, despite the constant war with the horn worms who munch on leaves like it’s an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Despite all that actually managed to grow a ful things to full edible size. So far we’ve eaten several jalapenos, lots of fresh herbs, squeezed about 3 drops of juice from our one lime and have eaten 2 lone blueberries from the tree. Our red and yellow peppers MIGHT actually make it to full size this week if some critter doesn’t decide to eat a hole in them and kill them before they ripen.

All that to say… I have a garden and I’m actually kind of proud of it. It isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s much better than when it started and I’m learning as I go. We might even get a few veggies out of it! And some day, with some more work, perhaps it will even be the lush oasis I’ve dreamt of. For now… I need to go look for those darn worms.

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