The discouraged gardener

Do you like getting advice about successful gardening, and looking at professional-level photographs of beautiful blooms?  This might not be the blog for you.

I generally try to, at least publicly, deal with my negative emotions with a sense of humor.  As you may have guessed.  But I need to be real for a second.  My garden is kind of sucking right now.  I don’t think I have ever, in a personal garden, dealt with so many annoying factors on so many plants at once.  You know what is maybe the worst thing about it?  I live next door to such a nice family, and yesterday the lady said hi to me and I just casually asked her if she had spider mites all over everything in her yard, because I sure the hell do, and she told me that actually, there was all this stuff in the yard when they move in ten years ago and she doesn’t know what any of it is and doesn’t do anything to take care of it.  Her yard looks AWESOME.  Meanwhile, every single time I go outside I see another dying plant.  And, I keep adding new plants, and they keep looking terrible.

Let’s think this through.  I have over twenty years of home gardening experience.  I have a degree in Horticulture.  I worked in commercial horticulture for years.  I have read a bajillion books, nerded out on all the websites, followed all the Instagrammers, and joined the Facebook pages.  I AM JUST SO INHERENTLY HALF-ASSED.  I don’t really need any advice about most of my tragic garden, I know what I’m doing wrong.  Although I will accept advice and also sympathy, but not judgement please.  I just needed to vent for a minute.

So what’s going on out there right now?  Well.  I have this vine maple that rather suddenly got some brown leaves and then even more brown leaves.  I was actually surprised that there was a vine maple in this full sun bed because I would have imagined it would do better in a shadier situation, but the internet tells me I am wrong, so my theory that it was sun damage was wrong.  I went to just cut back the dead branches, and then found that the branches were not, in fact, dead after all.  Just the leaves.  I see a very small amount of stippling and very, very small amount of webbing, so I suppose it does have the currently ever-present spider mites, but I really don’t think that’s what is doing the damage.  The stems are a bit sticky?  I just don’t know.  I ended up taking off all the brown leaves and leaving the branches, maybe it will put out new healthier growth?  It’s not truly my tree since I rent, so I’m not ready to heavily prune it yet because I don’t know how much the owner cares about the eventual shape of the tree.

CBB6AF7C-D35C-439B-B272-3E40B50A2E78
This just doesn’t look like spider mites to me.  
AE446D7E-CFDC-40A2-A159-E113EEC58992
But this does.

 

07AC5C71-825D-4763-9761-0AFE22BD8BE2
Vine maple glow-up.

This vine maple is in the crabgrass bed, with the strawberries I didn’t plant right away.  The FIRST batch of strawberries I didn’t plant right away, because I AM SO HALF-ASSED THAT THERE ARE TWO BATCHES OF STRAWBERRIES I DIDN’T PLANT RIGHT AWAY.  These strawberries are actually not looking so bad, whereas the ones in the strawberry pot, yikes.  Anyway so this bed as the dying vine maple, the brown strawberries, the kinnickinnick with the aphids, whatever the hell that ugly perennial was that is now past bloom and covered in powdery mildew, and the oregano that went to seed and I did not realize would then completely defoliate, the half dead ratty sandwort, and the really beautiful when I bought it Campanula that the big kid did not notice so she did not water it at all for the first week after I put it in the ground.  It was in the high 90s that week.

F76B30EB-4AE9-4D36-AC03-C9EBD207114F
I see this every time I drive into my driveway, and it just makes me cringe.
0ED61535-9164-4E9E-AB66-A0BD8BB3DE4D
Wondering if this oregano will self-seed.
1621FB09-E9D0-4C40-89DB-0E521C61FCEE
See how pretty the red parts are? They are galls caused by aphids and I had to cut them all off.
271D3D7F-A4DF-4C2C-89C3-1972D64F3440
Wondering if something else is going on here.  Those crunchy black parts are only where the plants are meeting the rocks, maybe they don’t like the heat from the rocks? Is that even a thing?

Right in the middle of this gruesome bed is this tall, healthy plant that iNaturalist tells me is Fagopyrum esculentum, common buckwheat.  I…really don’t care for this plant.  It’s the one plant in this bed that is thriving other than the crabgrass, and it’s basically a weed.  Sigh.

37C5D0F9-C433-4EBD-AD56-F02A19CA1F5B
Buckwheat? Seriously?

 

 

The spider mites really got to the Veronica that is at the end of the driveway and is the first plant you really see as you enter the yard.  I had to pull out about 2/3 of the whole plant that was just straight up dead, and cut what was left way back.  It’s brutal.

I’ve spent all my gardening time over the last two days laboriously planting teeny tiny bare-root sedums.  Someone on Next Door posted they had sedums to give away so we scooted over there on the way to run some errands and grabbed the trays and brought them home.  I didn’t realize until I went to plant them that the lady had pulled them out of the ground individually and I guess shaken all the soil off, then laid them on the trays.  Each of these is just the tiniest, barely rooted bare root fragment of sedum.  But, as I said to my poor husband, I’m willing to sacrifice a lot of time in order to save some money.  And truly, if they take, they are perfect for what I’m doing with them.  I think.  Remember the garbage can area that is two unidentified unhealthy shrubs and a lot of Malva that I pulled?  Well, I put the sedums there.  It’s a pretty sad soil, covered in crushed rock.  I just dug holes, dropped some decent potting soil in, laid in like five sedum fragments, and covered the roots with the ground soil and the rocks.  I also put them against the fence on the other side of the sidewalk there, then today I put them all around the gravelly perimeter of the patio.  I STILL HAVE SO MUCH SEDUM LEFT.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of it!  And the lady is so nice, after corresponding a bit, she has invited me over to her house tomorrow to get MORE sedum, and also to do a garden tour to see what other extra/dividable plants she might be able to share with me.  I can’t turn it down but holy cow.  Do I just throw the sedum at a rocky area and run???

6D3CFF26-3386-42C8-8157-EC6A7B71C472
Like 1/6 of all the sedum in the garbage can area.

I guess somewhat finally, while I was planting and weeding today I noticed a little area full of tiny seedlings, most of them don’t even have their first true leaf yet.  I honestly have no idea what they could be.  I’ve had some suggestions from Instagram, but nothing that sounds correct to me.  They are near the bindweed, but don’t look right for that, plus I’ve been keeping the bindweed way too small to seed.  They are closest to a crocosmia, but the seedlings are dicots.  They are near a birdfeeder, but no birds go to the birdfeeder so they wouldn’t be scattered seeds.  I’m stumped, so I’m leaving them alone for now, but I’ll probably regret it when I figure out which awful invasive I’ve let live and start feeding its taproot.

7CE7D96C-05F0-43E0-B1D9-D01DF23A8D438E9B8A8F-CF4A-4268-88E5-9B50F1BFE1FE

Oh, finally finally, a note on pictures…again.  I just really wish they were higher quality.  My iphone is great to grab when the little one is doing a funny dance, but for a carefully composed shot of the teensiest first baby leaf, it’s terrible.  I really like photography and have done it as a hobby in the past, and this is just super frustrating to me.  Right now I just filter the hell out of everything on Instagram and then shrug my shoulders, but I’m hoping to get a macro lens for my phone for my birthday which is FRIDAY.  I have a feeling I am getting lots of garden and bunny accoutrements, which is perfect.

And that’s that!

 

The Half-Assed Blogger

1AEF3DDD-5122-484F-B32A-2AEFB289CCA0
Here’s a nice picture of the beautiful, awful bindweed I discovered today after I thought I pulled it all yesterday. Posted from Instagram where I am “halfassedgardener”

So here’s the thing.   I would not consider myself to be a “digital native”.  In fact, I’m probably not even using that term correctly.  What I mean to say is that I am not very comfortable with a computer or anything associated with a computer.  I don’t know what words mean, what acronyms stand for, or how to make things do things.  And yet.  I like to write, and I like to take pretty pictures of plants.  So here I am, having a blog that nobody reads!  Hi, five people from yesterday!

This is just to explain that I have this blog, a Facebook page, and an Instagram account, and none of them are the same, and they aren’t very good.  I am actually even more half-assed about this venture than I am about my gardening, which is really saying something.

As previously mentioned, I started this blog in 2012, maybe before “homesteading” was such a loaded term.  And maybe just as more people were actually starting to do that in a serious way!  I did have ambitious goals, but I was never realistically going to have a “homestead”.  I was just being folksy!  But the thing is, that term is kinda played out now, and also people are legit doing it!  Like, on my block!  So I have to retire that term for myself, out of respect and self-respect.  So at first I was going to be “the half-assed human”, because believe me, I am half-assed in all areas of my life.  But, I just realized that I will be writing about my garden like 90% of the time, and also half-assed human just sounds weird.  So, I settled on “The Half-Assed Gardener” . I don’t like it as much as the half-assed homesteader, but it will do.  This is where things get complicated.

WordPress will let me change the name on my pages, but not in my actual site address.  So my pages say gardener, the address says homesteader.  So far I can’t get Facebook to let me change the site name so it’s homesteader over there.  Instagram let me change though, so I’m gardener there.

Oh and finally, I really enjoy photography, but I have a lot of conflicted feelings about it, but more importantly I don’t have the time to really play with taking or editing pictures, nor do I want to spend money on a fancy app.  So a good 90% of the time my pictures are nowhere near as nice once they are on the site as I thought they were going to be.

So, that’s it.  Half-assing everything, as usual.  Just a brief explanation of why everything I do is janky.

25A7C130-FF5A-46AA-9487-C579DBEBB0C0
And a beautiful, awful web, sign of spider mites.