Try again

The small plot of corn and soybeans at the bottom of the slope in the yard started off with a few hitches. Like the rest of the garden plots, the plot didn't exist when it was time to plant things, so the corn and beans got started in peat pots on the deck until I had space for them in the under-construction yard.

That's right: I transplanted corn and beans. I don't know if I'd say that you shouldn't do that, but it's a weird way to do it—just putting the seeds directly into the ground is the better way. (Someone else's experience with it: Corn Failure A.K.A. Starting Over). But, hey, do what you can.

The corn went in the ground first because it had gotten up to 20-30 cm tall in the peat pots. The beans had to wait a little longer—there wasn't much free time to work a plot for them with school and work and yard construction going on. So the beans just grew and twisted in their little peat pots in a plastic tray, sitting near where I was going to plant them.

As it turns out, something—the local groundhog, I suspect—discovered what was essentially a plastic salad bowl filled with young soybean leaves and left me with nothing but stems. Disappointing, but an obvious problem that was bound to happen.

Some tiny leaves would eventually start sprouting again before I put them into the ground. Once planted, they started to grow more confidently. But I didn't have a fence around the corn and bean plots yet, and though he had to work a little harder going plant-to-plant this time, the groundhog still managed to get his salad.

This happened three or four times, and by the time I got the chicken wire around the plot, only 18 of the ~32 or so original plants had survived—twisted and gnarly, not too many leaves, but still putting out a few bean pods.

So, learn and try again.

I'm saving the first rounds of beans as planting stock for next year—seeds that will be planted after the fence is up, and directly into the ground. And the open space in the bean plot recently got some late season additions of carrots, daikon, cabbage, and cauliflower—no way was I going to waste all that effort from turning over the local dirt (clay) with a spade.

I don't mind making stupid mistakes like this, to some extent. There was never enough free time this year to do it right, and the free time that existed wasn't at the right time for planting. So I improvised. Some things failed utterly—did any of the okra even stick their head out—but some things took off. Learn something and move on. Next year I'll have less space—I've been reminded that we don't live on a farm—so I'll have to succeed at a higher rate to use the space I'll get well.

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