Karen Alley has been working with Carolina Gardener Magazine off and on for 10 years, but reading and writing about wonderful gardens doesn't automatically make you a gardening expert! While a passion for gardening has been a part of her personality since childhood, she will vehemently profess to not knowing much when it comes to the ins and outs of designing and creating beautiful landscapes, yet the desire is definitely there. This blog will follow Karen's adventures as she continues landscaping a relatively new landscape and starts a vegetable garden in a beautiful raised bed built by her husband.

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Full of Hope  

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Full of Hope
by Karen Alley - posted 05/02/13

I am not a farmer by any means. I sometimes even hesitate to say I’m a gardener after I visit some of the magnificent gardens of people I meet through my work on the magazine. But I do love plants of all sorts and have a great start on a perennial border. And after this last weekend of planting my vegetable garden, I think I know the pride a farmer must feel on getting the crops in. When everything falls into place, including the weather, it's like a natural high that we gardeners can truly appreciate.

This year I wasn’t sure I was going to tackle the vegetable garden. I had quite a few disasters fall on my little plot last summer, and when the end of March came and the garden still wasn’t tilled, I tried to convince myself it was okay to take a break. Tilling the garden is one thing I can’t do myself, and my husband has been very busy at work and with his time in the Army Reserves, so I hated to ask him to do one more thing.

Then, without even talking to me, he came home from Lowes one day with a truckbed full of Black Kow and proceeded to till the garden. How could I not plant it after his efforts?

I looked at my calendar to find some days when I could spend a chunk of time in my garden and then studied the weather forecasts. On Tuesday they were calling for mostly sun all week until late afternoon Saturday, when a front was coming in that would bring rain all day Sunday. Perfect!

I sketched out a plan and picked out my plants and seeds from the local hardware store -- one of those old, locally owned stores that smells like cigarette smoke when you walk in and has everything from plumbers tape to wheelbarrows.

I was also on the search for an all-natural rabbit repellant. One of the perks of being the editor of Carolina Gardener is that I have a little say in what gets published in the magazine. Last summer I struggled with rabbits eating my bean plants, so I asked Stacey Libbert to write an article about rabbit control. You can read her article for yourself in the June issue, which should be hitting your mailbox shortly after May 15. In the meantime, I can tell you that what I learned from the article is that unless you’re prepared to build a fence around your garden that goes 2 feet deep and up to 2 feet tall, there’s not a lot of fool-proof methods, but there are some deterrants. I ended up purchasing something called Liquid Fence. The kid working at Lowes warned me that it smells bad, and boy, was he right! But hopefully that’s what makes it work.

So last Saturday, with everything purchased, I planted my garden. Both kids ended up helping, and without even being asked. In fact, they day before they said they didn’t want to. I guess the lure of squishing their toes through some freshly tilled red clay was just too much to withstand.

Then on Sunday, it rained all day. A good, solid rain, completely soaking my plants (and probably washing off all of the Liquid Fence, but I can reapply).

I was so proud of myself. I did my part, my plans came together, and then the rain did its part.

I love this time of year, when the garden is full of hope. There aren’t any weeds, the plants are strong and healthy, and I can walk out and look at it, dreaming of the bountiful harvest to come.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t take a break from the vegetable garden this year. And probably my two little rabbit friends will be glad too!




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