Planting a vegetable garden: No more procrastinating

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

Well, here it is mid-May and once again I have failed to get my garden planted. For whatever reason, I seem to lag behind in the garden-making process year after year, and last year I never did get a garden planted. I was disappointed to say the least, because more than anything I look forward to red, ripe, juicy homegrown tomatoes, picked at the perfect time to become an incredible tomato sandwich, to be a part of a crispy garden salad or, best of all, the main ingredient in fresh, homemade salsa.

So imagine my delight when on Saturday, as I was looking for the perfect hanging plant to give my mom on Mother’s Day, I found a large selection of 3- to 4-foot tall tomato plants, each with a half-dozen or more tomatoes and even more flowers, for sale at Walmart. And to make the deal even sweeter, the plants were marked down by 50 percent. What a score!

I picked up a couple of the somewhat-less-than perfect plants, as well as a couple of much smaller tomato plants, guaranteeing homegrown tomatoes on my table all the way through the summer. I also bought a couple of tiny cucumber plants. Salads, here I come.

But, there’s just one catch. They are all still in pots and I haven’t even determined where I’m going to lay out my garden. And the vegetables aren’t the only things still waiting to be planted. A while back, maybe six weeks or so, I picked up about 10 trees that the LSU AgCenter was selling. However, there are only three that seem viable, with no signs of life from the other seven “sticks.” So those trees, none of which I have any idea as to what kind they are, are waiting patiently to be planted, as well as the fig tree I bought two years ago, which has really leafed out and I know would love to have a permanent home.

I believe I have caught the procrastination bug that my late husband John carried. He was the hardest working guy I’ve ever known, except for maybe my father and also my brother, but he approached chores in such a way that there was an art to finally getting him to tackle them. Through a combination of wheedling, whining and downright nagging, I was able to get him to do most anything I wanted him to do. He was always happy to help me do things in the yard, but he really wanted to do things at his own pace, and he did.

So I’ve been spoiled in the past because he always dug my garden plot for me. Now, with it all up to me, I find that, although there’s plenty of space in any part of my yard, I haven’t even mapped it out on paper, much less put shovel to dirt.

But that’s about to change. I’ve got to get myself in gear and put all those precious plants into the ground so they can grow into fresh and wholesome food for my table. The trees, except for the fig, of course, will just give me shade, which I actually really need because John was adamant about cutting down every tree that could possibly fall down on the house during a hurricane. We battled about that a bit, me being a tree-hugger and all, but he won, at least as far as the pine trees were concerned. The magnolias were not touched; he knew I couldn’t bear it.

So, once I finish my column, my next chore, one that I will not procrastinate about, is to map out my garden space and determine the best places to plant the trees. I will have everything planted before Memorial Day. That’s a promise.

Jan Gibson can be contacted at