Whenever I’m asked to write a bio about myself, I usually included the line: “Jean gardens in spite of repeated failures…”
The “repeated failures” part is no joke. But scouts never say never, and they don’t give up that easily. And for the Outdoor Creativity badge, scouts get to put their patience to the test and grow their own garden, in my case, grow a garden… again.
BADGE WORK UPDATE: OUTDOOR CREATIVITY
You have to understand something: my mom is a world class gardener. Her gardens (both flower and vegetable), and landscaping are natural wonders, beautiful and brilliant; they deserve to be covered by some great photo shoot in some delightfully uppity magazine. She does all of the work herself, it’s her patient passion, and the results are incredible. She can just about live off of her vegetables all winter long.
As her daughter, I keep hoping it’s in the genes.
When I bought this little house 10 years ago, there was no flower garden or landscaping to speak of, but plenty of room to learn. My first big mistake was thinking I could nurture plants from the northeast here in Texas. My second was not understanding the difference between an annual and a perennial. Third on the list was assuming all dirt is created equal.
And because I’m a slow learner, those three mistakes cost me a lot in time and money over the years.
About three years ago, I started to get it, though. More perennial natives, more drought-tolerant and heat-resistant plants. Things were starting to look up actually, until last winter brought record freezes to central Texas. Like most people around here, I lost a lot of plants — I’d say about 70% of my garden just couldn’t make it.
And then there are the vegetables.
Two years ago, Charles and I decided to try our hand at home-grown sustainability with a raised bed garden. He built the frame, and we placed it in the sunniest spot in the yard. We invested in great soil, compost and mulch, and our plants were from a quality local nursery. It cost hundreds of dollars, and our experiment yielded less than a dozen little tomatoes, half a dozen peppers, one baby squash, and about $15 worth of herbs. Year 2 was no better and might actually have been worse.
But this year was a fresh start all the away around — especially with a badge task at stake. I’ve been working on the gardens since mid-March, and I think it’s time to show off the results so far: