Yeah, we're good.
Big advantage: Mulch Boy joined the good fight, channeling his grandfather, who maintained a giant kitchen garden for years and years. Year 1 revealed that the bed on the side of the house was THE ideal spot. MB not only re-forked the existing beds down to 18" (!), he expanded the ideal spot to three times its original size. And big strong man that he is, he did this all in a matter of hours over a weekend, as opposed to my week-long struggle of the year before.
The other big innovation: planting almost everything from seed! Guess what's way cheaper than plants. Seeds! At less than $2 a packet, seeds allowed us to be really ambitious and try growing a bunch of stuff for cheap. And at less than $2 a packet, any failures would be a lot less painful. Especially since I harbored a deep-down scepticism about seeds really working. Yes, I know it's ridiculous, but I really couldn't believe I could make it work. It seemed way too easy: put little seeds in ground, cover up with a little dirt, add water, enjoy vegetables. But my dad (gardener extraordinaire) swore to me that the plants you grow from seed would be stronger and healthier than the ones you bought elsewhere and that had to suffer from the stress of transplanting.
Let the picture above speak for itself. We had the craziest, most fabulous garden ever, much to our surprise and delight. Oh sure, there were failures (the peppers died from bad placement, the lettuce and spinach went to seed almost immediately, and I remain The Girl Who Could Not Grow Zucchini). But we had tons of tomatoes, bush beans, carrots, beets, and potatoes. Yes, potatoes, people! The surprise crop started from seed potatoes from the garden center. We ate taters for months and they were amazing. The green beans produces for months, too, and the carrots actually overwintered in the garden, and we were able to dig out a bunch this spring. Really!
The highs we've got from this experience: watching those little plants pop through the ground and actually grow and knowing "we did this." And oh, walking out to your own little patch to dig up or pick your own so-tasty produce for dinner? Just amazingly satisfying.
I know the experienced gardeners may be rolling their eyes at our exciting "discoveries." But these two inexperienced farmers are really excited at our success, and having a terrific time.