Grow, Baby, Grow

Reader Contribution by Keba M Hitzeman
1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4


 Looking into my in-ground garden

These pictures will immediately show that I am not a Gardener, worthy of glossy magazine spreads where I’m attired in white linen and interviewed on my methods and secrets. I’m not ashamed to call myself a gardener, with dirt under my nails, muddy knees, and bits of debris in my hair. It’s the end of May, and I still have the cabbages and broccoli starts to put in the ground, the straw blew out from between the onion rows in the last windy storm we had, and I honestly have no idea where all the welded wire tomato rings are (I know I used a few to patch fencing, and others are still around the pawpaw trees I planted two years ago, but there should be some more around here!).

And this is all okay – I keep reminding myself of that. There have been years we didn’t get anything in the ground until mid-June, years where I gave up trying to keep things watered because it just wouldn’t rain, and years where it all grew perfectly. This year I have a good stand of onions, the potatoes are emerging from their straw covering, there are cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini all stretching their roots down and their leaves up.

The weeded raised bed

One of my two hugelkultur raised beds got a thorough weeding today. These two beds started life as herb gardens, but apparently, I’m not the greatest at raising herbs. Unless it’s mint. I’m spectacular at growing mints. They are all slowly taking over the beds, which is fine with me because hot or iced mint tea is my go-to all year long. So I weeded amongst the applemint and peppermint and planted the poblano peppers, jalapeños, and Brussel sprouts. The walkway got a good layer of woodchips while I was out there, as well. It’s forecasting rain today, which may or may not happen, so we’ll see if the second bed gets weeded and planted – the broccoli starts will join the applemint that is already growing.

This one needs some work!

Growing things can be challenging – there’s the hope of the reward of food or flowers at the end of the season, but getting from that seed or plant starts that you carefully place in the ground to that reward is long, hot, and filled with weeds and insects. I certainly don’t like being out weeding in the middle of July, even when the mornings are oh-so-slightly cooler than the afternoons. But the hope of tomatoes, cabbages, and beans on the table is (usually!) motivation to keep the weeds far enough from the plants to give them space to grow. Someone needs to remind me of this when it really is mid-July when the humidity is off the charts!

Our “in-ground” garden is part of what used to be a garden, then was a pasture, so I’m now working against the grass that we were once encouraging to grow. My garden experiment this year is to turn over a few shovelfuls of dirt where I’m going to plant something, then keep that area well weeded. Keeping the entire garden area grass-free is a task that I’m not wanting to put effort into right now – there’s a lot more on the farm that I need to focus on. I’ll mow it regularly but won’t keep tilling it. We’re looking into options to smother the grass this fall!

Tomato plant with a “weed free” zone

How is your garden looking so far?

Need Help? Call 1-866-803-7096