To the average homeowner, planting a garden is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Maybe you’ve tried planting something in the past, such as an apple core, and you have no idea whether it ended up growing, because you forgot exactly where you planted it, and you may have run it over with the mower a few times. So you claim to have a brown thumb, despite all of the stuff you have growing in the back of your fridge.
But maybe you just don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t just plant things at random based on how long you’re willing to kneel in the dirt and what types of seeds are on sale. That’s like trying to make a cake by throwing a bunch of random ingredients together and then taking it out of the oven, and “Whoops. I forgot to add sugar. I guess I’ll just do it now,” and then tasting it and saying, “I guess I’m just not meant to bake cakes.”
You:“Where did you get these tomatoes?” Neighbor: “I got them in my garden! For free!”
That’s exactly how I was until recently, when my wife and I planted a vegetable garden in our backyard. Actually, we’ve been talking for years about planting a garden. We know people who have gardens, and they’re always walking up and handing us huge vegetables. Like they give us what appears to be a normal, regular-sized tomato, and then they say, “Can you believe it? That’s a cherry tomato!” Or they come in and hand us a squash the size of a small village. “And there’s more where that came from!” they say, as if your dietary requirements call for more than one of those per year. So we ask, “Where did you get these?” and they proudly say, “I got them in my garden! For free!”
Also, from what we hear, there is nothing more satisfying than consuming the actual fruits of your labor, or in our case, the vegetables of your labor. We’ve gotten twelve string beans so far, although, when we planted them, we thought they were kidney beans. We also have some stuff growing that we’re not entirely sure we planted.
So if you, too, want success with gardening, I suggest you follow the steps that I took. You’re going to want to follow them as closely as you can, because the truth is that I have no idea what I’m doing either, and I’m not sure which steps exactly led to my twelve string beans. Also, for those who would like to keep track of how much it costs to plant a garden, I have bolded all of the things you will have to spend money on.
First, pick a part of the yard to plant your garden. (It’s much easier to do it now than after you’ve planted the SEEDS.) You also want to make sure, before you start, that you have the PROPER GARDENING TOOLS, so that you don’t find yourself digging holes with a snow shovel or a soup spoon.
Once you’ve selected an area, you want to cordon it off, so that you have a line to tell your KIDS not to cross. You also want to put up some kind of FENCE to keep out the small animals, because, cute as they are, they tend to like a lot of the same vegetables that you do. (This is less of a problem with your kids.) For this, you can use CHICKEN WIRE (if your problem is that your neighborhood is overrun by chickens) or groundhog wire, or even POLICE TAPE. It doesn’t really matter what you use, because the animals are just going to burrow underneath it anyway. So you want to put a layer of BRICKS underneath the dirt, and also scatter some RED PEPPER FLAKES around your garden every few days. That’ll show them.
The next step is to go to the home and garden store and buy DIRT. Now you might think that you have a whole backyard full of dirt, but after digging in it for a while, you’re going to realize that there’s no way that a tiny tomato plant is going to survive in that mess of rocks and buried paint cans that cracked your SNOW SHOVEL. So you want to buy something called “TOP SOIL”, which is a very expensive kind of dirt that goes on top of your regular dirt. So your fence is going to be less about keeping out animals, and more about keeping the mountain of top soil from spilling out into the yard.
You also have to figure out how much top soil to buy. Each bag of dirt weighs forty pounds, and holds just enough dirt to cover your SHOES. So you will need to go with at least ten bags, which you will then have to push around the store in a cart with one bad wheel while you search for your wife, who is off looking at WINDOW TREATMENTS. Then you have to drive home very carefully, because by the time you get home, you’re going to have 400 pounds of loose dirt in the back of your CAR. Later, someone will tell you that you need to mix the top soil with some PEAT HUMUS, which is named after the guy who invented it, Pete Humus, who realized that he could get unwitting homeowners to buy two kinds of dirt.
You also have to decide what you’re going to plant. Most people want to plant something they know they like, such as coffee beans, or they want to plant chick peas, so they can make their own peat humus. But the easiest thing to grow, by far, is squash, so that’s what everyone grows. You’re going to want to plant some other things, though, because you’re trying to teach your kids about vegetables, and it’s very hard to get them excited about squash.
Finally, you want to make sure to put some kind of marker near every plant so you know what to expect there. That way, if something comes up, and it looks like a tomato, you can check the marker and go, “Yeah, it’s a tomato.” And if the cucumbers don’t come up, you can say, “The cucumbers aren’t coming up.” Because most of the fun of having a garden is fussing about it.
Speaking of which, our cucumbers haven’t come up yet. Maybe I didn’t buy enough TOP SOIL. And I’m pretty sure some of these red pepper flakes have taken root.