They say that confession is good for the soul. So perhaps if I confess my gardening sins to the internet, my soul will begin to feel more green than black again.

Friends, I confess, our garden this year is a disaster. I present, Exhibit A:

We’ve got a good crop of weeds, anyway. I’m already mourning the tomato sauce I’m not going to can, the corn I’m not going to freeze. We did get a number of meals of fresh beans, and I even froze a handful of quart bags. But the pigs enjoyed the majority of our overgrown beans.

And the only excuse I can offer up is that I’ve not yet found a balance for this season of life that we’ve entered, this season of having active kids to cheer on and support as they find and develop their own interests, their own strengths. It was admittedly much simpler when they were little, and our evenings were our own. Now I get so much joy out of watching them do the things they love and develop their talents. I’m certainly not complaining about it. I know that in a blink this season will be gone, and they will gone off to lives and homes of their own. But it’s hard to juggle that with my own desire to be a modern-day Ma Ingalls. I’m hoping some of you been-there-done-that moms will offer me some suggestions.

But back to the jungle garden. Matt would love to just take the lawn mower to the whole thing and be rid of this eyesore. (In fact he did start to take the mower to it, and took out 2 of my paltry 6 melons in the process!)
But as I toured the jungle garden today, I found that there’s still some bounty to be found.

Exhibit B: I’ve got 2 of these Cream of Saskatchewan melons out there.

I’ve also got one Chelsea Watermelon and one Sweet Siberian melon. So on the bright side, we’ll at least get to sample one of each of the 3 types of melons we planted. I planted 3 packs of melon seeds, and only 6 germinated. I blame that one on the crazy weather we’ve had here in Iowa this summer.

Exhibit C: We’ve had a bumper crop of lovely cauliflower.

These were grown from purchased starts. It’s one of the few things I’ve managed to freeze for winter. And it’s still coming on.

Exhibit D: One lone but oh-so-perfect-looking head of cabbage.

Exhibit E: What I picked on my little walk-through today. A green zucchini, a yellow zucchini, some onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.

I’m hopeful we’ll have a bumper crop of potatoes and onions. The drying beans should come out pretty well. I’m making up for our gardening shortcomings by purchasing from my friends at the farmers markets we attend. And I have to say that those little tomatoes there on the right side of the bowl are making me very happy. Those are from seeds that Karl & Tabitha sent me. Plus there are some yet-to-ripen varieties from other seeds they sent. I’ve managed to not completely squander their generosity away.

So things are maybe not as bad as they seemed when I first began this little confession. Could be a whole lot better, of course, but there’s always next year. Leave me your tips on kid & farm & garden time management!

3 years ago:

Cedar Valley Memories

This little pig

2 years ago:

So tired

Tractor pull

Cedar Valley Memories 2006

I went to Grundy Center and bought milk

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14 Responses to Confession

  1. Anita says:

    Keep investing your precious time in those kids — you can make beautiful gardens and put up vegetables the rest of your life. You’re doing it exactly right! Thank you for sharing your farm stories. My farm life was long, long ago but sometimes I still miss it.

  2. Ummm…..seeing as that could be a picture of my garden at the moment – I’m not doing very well on keeping it neat and orderly. It did help me though that Todd rototilled between all the rows 2 times in June – so around the plants the weeds aren’t as bad – but we did choke out 5 zuccini plants from all the weeds. And the beats and beans and pumpkins. Oh well. There is always next year…Kris

  3. Lisa says:

    I have no suggestion on balance, but I feel your pain. My kids are grown but the summer season brings with it so many demands that the garden gets away from me anyway!Just keep doing what you’re doing. Anita said it best. Eat what survives and buy locally what does not!!

  4. Matt says:

    It’s tough, but I do have a few suggestions for things that help me get all my things done in the summer.Why not get your kids involved taking care of the garden? More hands is better. If you are already going to the farmer’s markets to sell meat they could perhaps tend some of the garden and sell the produce at the market for income for themselves? And you could buy some from them before you leave home…or take some as “rent”. Of course if you just flat out aren’t home this may not help much.I would suggest putting down mulch around the plants. Heavy cardboard in the rows covered with grass clippings would keep a lot of weeds at bay. You could use chunks between plants as mulch also.You may want to think about changing your growing method to the biointensive method. It naturally chokes out most weeds due to it’s thick planting, and it allows for smaller garden areas. Google biointensive or check out the book “How to Grow More Vegetables in Less Space Than You Imagine” by John Jeavons.Good luck.

  5. "JEANNELLE" says:

    Don’t feel bad about your disaster garden! I hit that point in life many years ago, too, when things slid at home because I was too busy running around with the kids. You’ll adjust and find ways to make it all work. The mulch suggestion in the above comment is one I would probably give, too……if you can find time to put the mulch in place!!The watermelons look scrumptious…..great photo subject!Congrats on the very nice story about your blog in the Globe-Gazette!!

  6. frugalmom says:

    Thats always a hard one to balance. I think the kids grow just as fast as the melons! You are doing a great job. Enjoy the kids!

  7. farm mom says:

    You know, my garden isn’t what it normally is this year either. For us, it’s been a combo of strange weather and putting more focus on all the new animals we got this spring. But really, that is the way things are in this type of life we’ve chosen. It’s full. Always full. You’re doing the best you can, the best for your family and your children. The best part about gardening is that there is always a new season, to try again!

  8. Becky says:

    I agree with farm mom. It’s been a weird summer, and many people I know with a garden (including myself) have weedy messes. Yeah, we were sad about missing the party. I had thought it was the next weekend, we had my college roomates 30th birthday that night. It sounds like everyone had a good time. We had supper with Lyle and Ronnie at the Damn Bar last night.

  9. Patti says:

    I have a suggestion that has worked for me! Hire a young teenager to weed the garden/flowers. Usually the 10 to 14 age group are looking for part time work and a lil jingle in their pockets. P.S. Hiring your own teenager does not work:):)P.S.S The ones that work for me are looking for more work

  10. meanders says:

    Thanks for keeping it real!!! We all beat ourselves up to hold ourselves to an ideal, but sometimes plans change. I always have to remind myself that the Domestic Queen Martha has LOTS of people (and money) to keep her gardens weeded/housES clean/flowers arranged/food cooked/businesses running. And she has no children at home (and even then just had one kid)… But you can say that you do have a Magazine Quality Garden. And this year’s garden I would call a Darwin Garden–survival of the fittest! PS–and your kids are really charming!

  11. Twinville says:

    I have no tips. sorry!I’m right where you are with my own 3 kids, quickly growing in front of my eyes.But still I’m wanting to do some things I’m interested in.Unfortunately that does not include gardening. At least not this year.This year has been a nightmare to grow anything!First we had a late freeze in May, then hail storms in May and June. A drought until July. Extreme heat for late June, followed by monsoon rains and cold weather in July and much of August.All of our apple trees aren’t producing. Our peach tree is dormant of any peaches. And not an apricot to be seen on our single apricot tree.And we’re not alone. Everyone up here has had a rough year growing anything, so the farmer’s markets are shut down, and any produce we see is from Texas sold out of the back of trucks.I’ve been depressed about it for a while, especially when reading other’s blogs packed full of gorgeous, mouth watering veggies.But I’m going to believe that the lack of a garden and anything growing is meant to be and a good thing for my family right now. We’ve had a wonderfully relaxing summer together, too.You should really count yourself blessed. You did harvest some beautiful veggies. I know they will taste awesome!But best of all, you had an amazing summer enjoying your kids and participating in their lives :)

  12. Okay, you all have made me feel better about my jungle of a garden! I love my internet friends :)

  13. Twinville says:

    Aaaww… And we love you, too :)

  14. I do not have “weeds” in my garden; I am merely maintaining a high level of biodiversity.

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