The Ugly Little Garden

Today I planted my ugly little garden. I’ve named it the “ugly little garden” after Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 tale “The Ugly Duckling.”  In the story a mother duck is surprised to find that one of her ducklings looks different from the rest. He’s as big as a loaf of bread and gray whereas his brothers and sisters are about the size of a goose egg and soft yellow.  Her gray “ugly” duckling totters awkwardly around the barnyard sometimes tripping and falling whereas his much smaller yellow siblings skedaddle easily across the dirt yard.

 

And like Hans Christian Andersen’s ugly duckling, my garden just doesn’t fit into the neighborhood. The land behind our barn slopes, so we had Dan (our dirt mover and shaker) use his backhoe to take soil from the house building site to pile behind the barn and level off for a garden.

 

I wanted to begin my first vegetable garden with the big three—squash, beans, and tomatoes.   Interwoven between the vegetables I imagined flowers planted to attract predatory insects. By predatory insects I mean –the good guys– ladybugs, praying mantes, garden spiders, and green lacewings that eat –the bad guys– aphids, cabbage worms, and cucumber beetles.  The proposed colorful flowers would have decorated the garden with splashes of reds, yellows, oranges, and blues.  I had a lovely dream of produce coming to perfection on the vines while bees and hummingbirds visited the bright blossoms.  I fear all this was envisioned but not realized.

 

With moving into the new house I never got around to starting any seed, and the flat garden area Dan created has been overtaken by weeds, while the constructed raised beds I hoped for became old fruit bins from a local apple orchard.  These bins were generously given to Bruce by the orchard owner, and, indeed they may turn out to be fantastic raised beds, but they were unexpected.  Like the mother duck that did not know what to make of the strange big duckling she found amongst her hatchlings, I’m not sure how my ugly little garden will turn out.  If it is a good ending, then my garden will transform into a beauty like the ugly duckling that, surprisingly, grew into a splendid white swan.

Fruit bins from a local orchard being used as raised beds for vegetables.
Fruit bins from a local orchard being used as raised beds for vegetables.

 

Chippo investigates the newly planted "Cinderella" pumpkin plant.  It's not certain how hard we will have to work to keep the donkeys out of the vegetables. This photo was taken on the day I planted, and the donkeys are always attracted to anything new on the farm.
Chippo investigates the newly planted “Cinderella” pumpkin plant. It’s not certain how hard we will have to work to keep the donkeys out of the vegetables. This photo was taken on the day I planted, and the donkeys are always attracted to anything new on the farm.

 

An overview of my ugly little garden. Three raised beds containing pumpkin, squash, and tomatoes. The bush beans are in smaller containers inside the greenhouse. Note the weeds on the left that someday may be replaced with flowers and more vegetables.
An overview of my ugly little garden. Three raised beds containing pumpkin, squash, and tomatoes. The bush beans are in smaller containers inside the greenhouse. Note the weeds on the left that someday may be replaced with flowers and more vegetables.

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “The Ugly Little Garden

  1. Sher, Looks like great soil! I don’t know if you have a wind problem there but I would consider taking out a couple feet of soil & covering the top of vegetable starts with remay or fine netting if you think birds might eat them. It might keep inquisitive donkeys from munching as well!

    1. Sher, Looks like great soil! I don’t know if you have a wind problem there but I would consider taking out a couple feet of soil & covering the top of vegetable starts with remay or fine netting if you think birds might eat them. It might keep inquisitive donkeys from munching as well!

      Hi Peri– Thanks for your advice. I have heard about row coverings, and I may try those. I’m unsure what problems I will encounter. I have staked the taller growing tomatoes, and I was reading last night that I should put something over the pumpkin and squash to protect them from bugs. Seems a shame to hide the vegetables. Sher

  2. Sher,
    Well done. Your efforts will be rewarded. I love the wooden bins! Do you expect issues with the local wildlife thinking you’ve laid out a buffet?

    1. Sher,
      Well done. Your efforts will be rewarded. I love the wooden bins! Do you expect issues with the local wildlife thinking you’ve laid out a buffet?

      Hi Elisabeth–Because we are surrounded by commercial orchards and they have really tall deer and elk fencing, this area doesn’t have as many deer. I see deer on the farm occasionally, but once I go further with this I may have to put up a deer fence. This first year is sort of an experiment; although, I do have big plans for preserving whatever I do get from the greenhouse and the bin crop. Sher

  3. Looks good Sher!
    Here’s a mix that will help with the bugs and critters that love the veggies!

    Tomato/Vegetable Spray

    Mix in a 2 gal. sprayer or mix and store in container to be transferred to a hand sprayer.

    2 gal water
    1 Tbs Baking Soda
    1 Tbs Dial, Anti-Bacterial soap
    1 ½ Tbs Miracle Grow for Tomatoes
    1 to 1 ½ Tbs Epsom Salt
    11/2 tsp Soy oil
    1 ½ tsp Garlic oil
    2 Tbs Isopropyl Alcohol
    1 Tbs Tabasco
    1 Tbs Food Grade, DE is Diatomaceous Earth
    Here is my source for DE, the swimming pool type will not work.
    http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/productcart/pc/Food-Grade-Diatomaceous-Earth-c11.htm

    Mix all and shake well before applying

    Note: You will have to reapply after a rain

    This is a good spray for all kinds of bugs and also will repel deer, squirrel and rabbits.

    This is not 100% organic but close to it.

    If you are experiencing stem rot it is caused by too much water and not enough calcium, save your egg shells, toast them in the oven then crush them fine, mix well with coffee grounds and add around the base of the tomato plant drip line.

    If you dust the ground around the base of the tomato plant with DE, you will take care of cut worm problems. I used to use a heavy cotton string, soaked in coal-oil, can’t find it coal-oil any more??? LOL

    Good Luck!

    “When I die don’t bury me in any old cemetary
    just plant me in the garden and there I’ll be
    pushing up home grown tomates

    There’s only two things that money can’t buy
    That’s true love and Home Grown Tomatoes!

    “Semper Fi!”
    SD

    1. Roy — Thanks so much for the spray idea. It’s interesting that fertilizer is also in it… Where do you find soy and garlic oil? The DE I have for pigeons though it is still in the sealed container. Normally water will not be an issue. Once this late wet spring ends we will not see any rain to speak of until October. I save eggs for my crow Craven, so I will also put some around the tomatoes.

      Any — my goodness- what a great quote!

      There’s only two things that money can’t buy
      That’s true love and Home Grown Tomatoes!

      I may have to quote you someday — that one is wonderful! Sher

  4. I have no doubt that your “ugly little garden” will be transformed into something beautiful. I love the fruit bins! Mostly I like the way they look but I also love that they are so deep. Their height off the ground should make them fun to work with. I can imagine the pumpkins cascading over the side.

    1. I have no doubt that your “ugly little garden” will be transformed into something beautiful. I love the fruit bins! Mostly I like the way they look but I also love that they are so deep. Their height off the ground should make them fun to work with. I can imagine the pumpkins cascading over the side.

      Thanks Joan! What I like best about them is that weeding will be a dream and not a chore, because the soil level is waist height. The pumpkin I got is supposed to be small enough for large containers, so we will see. 🙂 Sher

  5. Makes sense to “start small,” Sher–and I love the idea of the fruit bins! Also, your “big three” are a good choice. They’ve always been the winners in my garden. Here’s to swans!

    1. Makes sense to “start small,” Sher–and I love the idea of the fruit bins! Also, your “big three” are a good choice. They’ve always been the winners in my garden. Here’s to swans!

      Thanks Mary! Let’s hope Heidi will get here this summer to see all these goodies. 🙂 Thanks for reading. Sher

  6. Hey Bruce and Sher…your ugly little garden will have its own day. And as my mother says ” you can only do one project at a time”…
    We are in the same boat with our garden; had major plans for some pretty nice beds…even thought about using fruit bins, but alas we did not have the soil to fill them. We have managed to get one of four gardens in…and i guess i am developing a more casual attitude; will get more done next year. planted raspberries today..We have a new chicken coop in our next plan…just got the wood today..so that is indeed a good sign 🙂 carry on gardening

    1. Hey Bruce and Sher…your ugly little garden will have its own day. And as my mother says ” you can only do one project at a time”…
      We are in the same boat with our garden; had major plans for some pretty nice beds…even thought about using fruit bins, but alas we did not have the soil to fill them. We have managed to get one of four gardens in…and i guess i am developing a more casual attitude; will get more done next year. planted raspberries today..We have a new chicken coop in our next plan…just got the wood today..so that is indeed a good sign 🙂 carry on gardening

      Hi Carol: How wonderful to hear from you. We have wondered how you and Chuck are doing. When you have a new place you can just get done what you get done. Today I spent the entire day planting annuals in containers around the house so that we have color to enjoy along with our summer visitors. I wish you well with your little garden too — thanks for checking in. Sher

  7. When spring rolls around, I always have such big ambitions for transforming our back garden into a veggie and herb kitchen garden… But then the work just becomes too daunting and overwhelming, and so it collapses like a house of cards in soggy weather. So hats off to your gardening!

    1. When spring rolls around, I always have such big ambitions for transforming our back garden into a veggie and herb kitchen garden… But then the work just becomes too daunting and overwhelming, and so it collapses like a house of cards in soggy weather. So hats off to your gardening!

      Thanks Reggie– the first year did not work out so well, but I have spent so much time outside this summer and been so busy with house guests — that I have been way behind on the blog. So behind, I hardly know where to begin. Sigh… so for me it is the blog that gets behind in the summer, because I don’t want to be inside at the computer. I write in my journal and that is as far as it gets. Sher

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