(My tiny garden. Notice the left side, front looks empty. At least Tuck the dog’s tummy is full.)
I’m a sloppy gardener.
I love fresh tomatoes off the vine, so I started planting them a few years ago.
Up until this year, my method, to be kind, has been haphazard. Find a sunny spot in the yard that is not already covered in hostas and what not. Till the soil. Briefly. Get my father-in-law’s left over tomato plants (he almost always buys more than he needs and drops the extras off for me) from the spot in front of the garage where they are practically dying, since I’ve left them in their pots far too long and don’t always remember to water. Dig some holes and put the plants in the ground. Water them pretty regularly. Get really excited for those couple of weeks when tomatoes are overflowing on the vines. End of season, dig ’em up and toss ’em.
This year, I decided to try something different. To do what it takes to extend the tomato harvest and to get more fruit from each plant. I did some basic research. I cleared out a small area in the sun and created a border with some slats leftover from the fence project my husband recently finished.
On a whim, I went to the garden store and chose my own tomato plants. I also bought some cucumber plants.
When it was time to plant my garden, I raised the surface of my planting area with fresh soil mixed with fertilizer, then dug my holes and planted tomatoes and a few cucumbers within the border I’d made.
It is a pretty little garden.
I told Tuck the dog to stay out of the borders. He seemed to understand. He sniffed a bit but didn’t dare cross the line I’d drawn.
The day after I’d planted the garden, I left town for three days on a college tour with my younger daughter. My husband promised to water the tomatoes and cucumbers, which he did. When I returned, the garden hadn’t changed much. Except one of the cucumber plants looked smaller and at a funny angle. But the plants are still small, so I thought that I might have been imagining it.
This morning, my second day home, I let the dog out in the back yard and took care of some things inside the house. After a short while, I looked out in the yard to find my dog comfortably lying down within the borders of my garden. He seemed to be chewing on something.
I rushed out and read him the riot act. He skulked away from the garden quickly, clearly because he didn’t want me to see that he’d eaten one of the cucumber plants.
On a brighter note, my herbs are growing beautifully. A few weeks ago, I planted herbs in an earth box that one of my yoga friends gave me last year. The box is elevated to about hip level so the dog has not bothered to gnaw on any of the herbs.
If I can’t keep the dog from my little garden, I may have to consider buying, next year, a second earth box for my tomatoes and cucumbers.
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