Vantage Point

Musings of a Gardener with a Substandard Green Thumb

February is a great time of year to start planning your spring garden, and I did just that last year.

If there’s one thing about me, when I put my mind to something new, I jump in both feet, heart and soul, and I don’t look back. Learning and trying to garden wasn’t any different.

I was ambitious (after having a baby in the fall, mind you), and my husband, kids and I built nine planter boxes. I had all the hopes in the world that these would be filled with beautiful, nutritious food for my family to enjoy. I researched what growing zone we’re in and grabbed tons of seeds and even a grow light or two. (I was going to start the seeds indoors so they were stronger when I transplanted them outside.)

I also learned how to sprout the seeds in zip-close bags using paper towels. I kept them warm with a heating pad, and I even went so far as to monitor the temperature, all in the hopes of producing the best seeds and giving them a good head start.

I painstakingly removed the sprouted seeds from the paper towels, as their roots had woven themselves to the fibers of the towels, and I put them into some soil, in trays and under the grow lights. I was feeling good about it and pretty proud of myself for branching out to learn something new that would not only benefit my family, but could also become a new hobby for me.

Fast forward to when the broccoli in the garden box started to “bolt” and go to seed, far earlier than I thought it ever should. I knew I was in trouble. Couple that with a baby that needed my attention (I didn’t mind because cuddle time is the best), and my garden dreams didn’t go up in smoke, but they got enveloped by weeds and run over by ants. (Don’t even get me started on how frustrating that was.)

The garden space I had dreamed of started to become the thing of nightmares. The potatoes I lovingly tended to for months didn’t even get picked out of the ground. They were far smaller than I ever thought they could or would be, and I was so frustrated with my gardening failures by then that I just ignored them. I’m leaving them to hopefully sprout bigger potatoes next year (if that’s even how potatoes work; by this point, I’m not trusting any of my own gardening deductions).

By the end of the growing season, four of the garden boxes were full of weeds (that my two St. Bernard puppies loved jumping through); the potatoes didn’t grow past the size of small rocks; my strawberry freaked out when I transplanted it and finished the year on life support; the tomatoes got eaten up by more weeds; and the onion box was overrun by ants. (I LOATHE ants.)

The herbs fried in the sun after one day of forgetting to water them. I went sweet basil-less last summer, and I wasn’t happy about it. The only thing that remotely worked out was the single row of peas I planted straight into the box, but their hulls (or whatever) were super tough and not like the tasty pea pods in salad bags. (I think those were pea pods? Who knows anymore?)

Now that I’ve vented and exposed my gardening failures, February is here again, and I’m tempted to plan out my 2021 garden.

But I’m not as dreamy about it, and I feel like I haven’t quite recovered from looking out my kitchen window only to be reminded that my garden plans were never going as planned. If you’re thinking of planning a garden this year, now is a great time to learn about which planting zone you’re in, what to plant per season or month, and how to get started. Good luck. I know I’m going to need it!        

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest™, serving Yakima County. She’s a small-town girl from Naches with a great husband who can fix anything and three kids who are her world.

Like this article? Feel free to respond to Thanks for reading!