Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Partially Successful Experiment (Because I'm a Glass-Half-Full Kind of Guy...)

First, some things to know about the type of gardener I am:
  • I don't fertilize
  • I don't lose sleep over a brown leaf or three
  • I only water when the planting is new, or when we are experiencing a severe drought
I expect plants to do what evolution has made them to do--thrive or die. I won't spend huge amounts of time trying to get something to grow that just won't. I may move it to a differing part of the garden, I may give it a bit of extra water for a time if it's having trouble establishing itself, but overall I just want plants to do what plants do best. Be pretty, grow, bloom. I'll weed, I'll mulch, but that's pretty much it.

That said, I think we've all heard of that magnificent pallet garden, which promises vertical gardening for those lacking in horizontal space (or any other dimension), in which herbs and flowers will prosper and bring life-long happiness and wish-fulfillment!

The Beginning...
It starts out painfully, much like trying to wax your own bum... A lot of twisting and turning, a few "OUCH!!!"es, and just a bit of cursing in which your neighbor is constantly calling out every few minutes over the terribly lacking not-so-neighbor-proof fence, "What are you doing?!" and "Are you done yet?!" And this is all in just trying to get the landscaping fabric to adhere to the sides and back of your skid. 

So after much stapling, the use of at least a hundred large-headed nails, and a pair of tweezers to remove splinters, you finally get the cursed fabric to stay where it needs to stay upon much improvising and swearing. 

Then you get to pack it with dirt and plants, the highlight of any gardeners day! You carefully and lovingly select which one's will go on the top, the middle, the bottom. You vary the colors of the leaves against the colors of the blooms. You leave it lying flat for a few days, lavishing it with water and love before finally propping it up against said not-so-neighbor-proof fence and you await the growth, love and joy of a vertical garden!!!

The End...
Yeah... Not so fast there, Skippy.

Here's the thing about the pallet garden. Above all else, it craves moisture. Wood is a little bit like that grandmother, sucking you of all the love and attention she needs while providing little to nothing in return. And if you have planted not-so-drought-tolerant plants within the confines of your skid? Be prepared for the same amounts of disappointment...

The rosemary and moss roses struggled from the get-go. The petunias up and died--twice. Even the Oregano was feeling a bit dried up and flavorless. And this was all while going against my natural inclinations and watering it like a half-dead camel I found in the Mojave! Buckets and buckets and buckets of water... 

The vinca, on the other hand, did quite well. The purslane as well (which, if you haven't heard of it, is pretty, drought tolerant, and completely edible!), and the coleus did so well it got too tall for it's own good and snapped off at the base. And the basil? Like a DREAM! It did so well I have baby basil plants cropping up in at least three other containers! 

So the lesson here is don't pick plants that are camel-like in nature. And don't expect every pretty or tasteful thing to do well. And most importantly, remember this: if you have small animals, like a cat or a Chihuahua? They will get in touch with their inner mountain goat and climb it like a stairway to heaven. They will uproot plants, dig between the slats, and even sit on the top-most plants as a cushion for their butts and use it as a look-out post over their kingdom.

The only practical solution to this is to surround your skid with barbed wire, but then you just end up looking like Sheriff Grimes in a no-name prison, gardening while surrounded by fencing meant to keep the monsters out a la The Walking Dead. Not exactly a gardening paradise...

Until next time, my fellow enthusiast...

1 comment:

  1. Duly noted, and will not be trying this. Like you, I don't have time for all that pampering. If it's gonna make it, it'll make it and good, if not, screw it! We have no fence, and the critters would be all up in its business, any how. Thanks for the info!