Marching forward each day

Yesterday, I got outside early and watered my container garden before heading to the veterans cemetery where my husband is buried. Clouds were gathering, as some boys and men were preparing for a Memorial Day ceremony, but I didn’t want to sit through speeches. The rain hit before I got home.

I think my husband would shake his head at my container garden effort, but he would approve of me not giving up and trying to do the best I could this spring to get vegetables growing again. I’m thinking about more durable infrastructure for my garden, but so far this container gardening effort is working. I’ve found loads of container gardening information and inspiration online, but truly the hardest part was just getting started and taking the first steps to start some tomato and pepper seeds indoors. Once those seeds took off, well, then I was committed to figure out something to transplant them and get them outside.

I picked this Reba McEntire song as one of the music selections for my husband’s funeral service last year:

My husband loved Reba.

Each step forward made me feel a bit more optimistic, but there were plenty of problems and a few failures, like the bareroot strawberries I bought at a local store didn’t grow. I saw several homesteaders and gardeners online recommend Stark Bro’s Nurseries as a good place to order fruit trees and bushes, so I went ahead and ordered some more strawberries and a few other things. The 25 pack of bareroot strawberries was on sale for $9.99 and every single one is growing.

I planted some of the Stark strawberries in containers with flowers and I put these in a rectangular grow bag in my gorilla cart temporarily, until another tiered container from amazon arrives. I’m glad I bought more strawberries and gave it another try.

My first bit of advice is don’t quit when you face failure with gardening (or any other endeavor). If it’s feasible, due to your growing season and within your budget, try again as soon as you can. The longer you talk yourself into excuses and defeat, the harder it is to get started again – trust me on this, because I’m the queen of “I Tried That Once And I Can’t.” I’ve faced slug problems, some bug problems, and made loads of dumb mistakes and I’m sure all three of these gardening maladies will hit again, plus some more. I planted 4 zucchinis and they were thriving, so I gave away two of them, thinking I’d be flooded with zucchinis. I picked one nice zucchini off of the best looking plant, then one day that plant started drooping a lot and by the next morning it had fallen over and the stem looked demolished.

My remaining zucchini doesn’t look terrific, but I transplanted it into an 18 gallon tote container. I also planted a few more zucchinis, because there’s a long growing season here. I have 3 pattypan squash plants that have started producing and two yellow crookneck too.

One of the yellow squash is conjoined twins.
More yellow squash growing.

In previous posts I mentioned that I’ve used a lot of grow bags, but here in the GA heat, these grow bags dry out quickly. I bought small black trash bags and have put the grow bags inside of the trash bags and I can pull the bags up all the way or push them down, coming up only a few inches along the sides of the bags, to hold in moisture.

The trash bags seem to be helping to hold in water with the grow bags. The Burpee seeds for these veranda tomatoes have formed tons of cherry tomatoes, but the foliage is very tight and dense, making it hard to prune them and hard to get at the ripe tomatoes. These are determinate tomatoes.

The cucumber seed packet said “bush variety,” but these were vining out a lot, so I staked them. I see a lot of people online put up cattle panels as a durable trellis. That’s something I might invest in later, after I figure out if I’m going to stick with container gardening, put in some raised beds or go back to in-ground gardening. This year is just getting my heart and mind committed to gardening by myself.

Problems and troubleshooting are just a part of gardening (and life). I hadn’t planted a vegetable garden in probably 15 years. There are pros and cons with container gardening and definitely with using grow bags too.

The portalacas in the top of the tiered container have gone crazy blooming.

Before I forget, the 5 cabbage plants that I started in a gallon milk jug with that winter sowing are still alive – slow to form heads, still in the Dollar Tree bags, had some bug damage, but, well, they’re alive. I will plant more cabbage later this summer to grow through the fall.

Bottom corner, that’s a spaghetti squash growing from that same “winter sowing” experiment.
Basil and parsley in Dollar Tree dish pans, with drainage holes burned into the bottom.
Back in late Feb-early March I planted seeds in some square Dollar Tree food containers and these violas didn’t grow, but then some seeds sprouted and now some are blooming. It’s way too warm for violas here, but no one told these violas that, lol.

Here’s a photo of the overall garden and yes, with all this container gardening on my patio, my patio really needs to be pressure washed:

I planted everything by myself, which I’m proud of doing. I put down almost all of the weed cover and wood chip mulch by myself, One of my sons helped a little with the first weed cover and mulch area, but then I expanded several times since then. On my back fence, there are weeds taking over and I’ve cleared some of that and need to get the rest of it cleared. The area behind my fence is like the woods are encroaching. My husband used to keep that area cleared and mowed to keep the woods further back from our back yard. I miss him, but I’m thankful everyday that he helped me learn not to be a quitter. If I can do this, I think just about anyone can. Just bite off a little bit at a time, then each day do a little bit more.

There’s so much bad news almost everyday now, that finding some rays of hope can be challenging. Working on my small backyard container garden is helping me find some inner peace and being out in the sunshine gets me away from my computer and away from the chaos roiling through the online news and social media world. It’s peaceful in my backyard.

As a child, I spent a lot of time in our garden and following my great-grandmother around as she tended her flowers. She could get anything to grow and taught me how to propagate a lot of plants. My mother was big on saving seeds and it seemed wondrous to collect flower seeds, then plant them the next spring and see beautiful flowers grow all over again. Each seed that has sprouted this year still feels like a small miracle unfolding before my eyes.

Here’s the song I chose to close my husband’s funeral service – it fit him and all the other veterans perfectly:

Don’t quit.

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Filed under Food for Thought, Gardening, General Interest

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