McClatchy InteractiveMay 5, 2008 

I'm a little discouraged today.

The good news is, the sun is out. I spent the morning pulling weeds and making vitamin D. Then I took the cultivator back to the raspberries' future home and added more fertilizer.

With the sun out, however, I got to see how long it hits the bed. And it isn't long enough. The big tree on one side of the yard blocks it for a big section of the afternoon. I've always liked that tree, even though it looks hollow on the inside and its days are likely numbered. Now it's probably keeping my plants from thriving. The sun comes back around for awhile in the afternoon, but it doesn't add up to enough hours per day.

In a development that may or may not be related, the peas are not progressing. I can't even find most of the shoots I was so excited about. As for the carrots, they never appeared. It's been three weeks, the outside estimate for germination according to the seed packet, and not one has come up.

I probably didn't do enough to prepare the bed before planting. Books and Web sites talk about all the things you should ideally do, things like planting cover crops and building raised beds. I couldn't do everything; the conditions weren't going to be perfect. Even if I had the space, I'd have no idea how to build a raised bed. Anything that grows there will just have to grow straight out of the ground.

I did work in fertilizer, and when my soil tester indicated the soil was alkaline, I added sulfur. Now I'm not sure that tester even works. I put the sulfur in weeks ago, and when I re-tested today, it said the exact same thing; the pH hadn't changed at all. I'll have to buy a different kit and try again. They have some that look kind of like chlorine testers for swimming pools; maybe one of those would work better.

So we'll see. The tomato plants are growing, just no flowers yet. The peppers don't seem to be doing much. I'll have to re-cultivate the carrot row and try again, and I'll probably plow the pea row under too. Now I have to think of something else to put in. I knew going in that not everything would grow, but I was hoping something would.

On the upside, the dill hasn't died.

Maybe next week I'll have a better idea where to go from here.

Kristen Halverson is grumpy about her carrots. Write to her at

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