Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cucumber Carcass Graveyard

Last year, D and I created our very first raised box gardens. He built the boxes and filled them with rich soil (you know, the special kind for box gardens that is literally full of little golden specs of vermiculite that sparkle in the sunlight) while I tried my hand at sprouting plants from seeds. We ended up growing onions, broccoli, three different types of tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, arugula, spinach, strawberries, honeydew melons, watermelons, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, green beans and three types of pumpkins. About half of these plants were grown from seed, and some were purchased as plants at the store. It was an exciting endeavor for both of us as first-time box gardeners.

I vaguely remember hearing an expert recommend that first time gardeners should only grow a few things. Only a few things? Ha! Why only grow onions, peppers and tomatoes? Go big or go home, I said, even though my box gardens were already at home. Go big AT home, I guess.

We didn't take into account one little detail, which was still extremely small at the time, but it progressively got larger while the plants in our garden grew. Ella. I was pregnant and due to deliver my baby around the end of August or the first part of September. Harvest season.

The plants in our garden LOVED that golden soil. A lot. Especially the cucumbers. They gobbled up those nutrients, became monster plants, took over the garden box they were in and extended beyond it. I couldn't keep up with all the cucumbers that were being churned out of my little box garden. We gathered some up, but soon began piling them up next to the garden box, where they were forgotten when Ella was born.

Honestly, after the baby came the entire garden was almost completely forgotten and ignored (except for the pumpkin patch, which produced prodigious amounts of squash). Then winter came, Ella did not sleep for long periods at night for several months, and we traveled for work. We occasionally glanced at our treasured garden, but did not have the energy to do anything more.

Yesterday I started cleaning up the garden boxes, and that is when I discovered shriveled cucumber carcasses strewn all over the garden boxes and the bark surrounding them. Poor cucumbers. So much goodness gone to waste last year. The happy news is: some of our plants are still alive! The onions, strawberries and kale are still going strong.

This year we will not put vine-y plants in our box gardens. Those will be relegated to a spot along the fence where they can climb and expand without railroading other plants along the way. Also, we will only have one cucumber plant, not four or five. It's going to be a good gardening year. I can feel it. Bring on the plants!