A nice couple came in today to ask why their garden was dying. They had bought eight yards of our garden soil then planted their plants/seeds. Must be close to two months now and they said that all the plants were dying and that it must be the soil they got from us.
I showed them pictures of my garden plants that are lush and productive and said we had the same soil so that is not the reason.
I asked what fertilizer they used and they said none (but I already knew that was not the reason for plant demise).
Then I asked how they watered and they said with an oscillating sprinkler (the kind we ran through as kids on hot summer days). It occurred to me at that point as obvious as can be! They THOUGHT they were watering but all they were doing was wetting the surface of the soil. The plants got NOTHING out of it except for a tease misting.
They then asked me how I water my garden (40' X 60') and I said I go home after working outside all day long, take a shower and change clothes, rehydrate (!), then drag my tired soul all the way up to the garden with my 100' hose and water the thirsty plants one by one. It takes a lot of time but in doing this I see spots, holes, rabbit browsing, things I gotta do!
I guess I have realized that (I have mentioned this before) having a veggie garden isn't just about being a redneck flannel-wearing smelly old person growing corn. It's a full blown relationship just like the ones we have with other people.
If you think for one second that you can spread the soil, shove the plants into the ground and look for the easy way to grow tomatoes, you have a rude awakening coming towards you because the sharks are circling.
Just like any relationship, a garden needs attention. Daily reinforcement. What you put into it you get back out of it. This is what I try to tell people, and this is one thing that intrigues me about growing food. It ain't so easy, and that makes me respect our elders and agricultural workers more and more each time I go do something in my garden.
The above chart shows basic basic plant needs. Listen people (anyone there?), if a plant does not get water, nothing on this planet can save it from certain death. Use your heads and water by hand so all your work is not in vain, or come up with some drip method so time is of no concern.
David Benjamin- horticulture degree North Carolina State University graduated 1983, has worked at the nursery since 1976. Somewhat tired of eating grocery store food.