tomatillo harvest
The story of my garden, described in anecdotal fashion - just like Kim and I like it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ah, well, once again I have decided to get a fresh start on the blog. Its spring so it fits with my usual fresh start on everything in life. Every everything. So, South Haven, MI. Its March 28th and it is rainy and cool, but feel like May something. Everything has bloomed; trees, bulbs, even the lilac that Daisy managed to not kill despite her constant chewing. It is weird. I put in peas (actually innoculated!) twice and I don't know, maybe its been too warm. Spinach and chard and beets and well, I'm having a hard time figuring out what is tree seedling and what is what I want to come up. I have to wait for true leaves, etc.
I'm excited to see the hardy fig is coming back, but I ran by the houses that had these huge, healthy specimens in their yards last summer and they have pruned them to the base. I'm not sure I may have missed a fall pruning and mine does have new is an example of my approach to gardening. I could easily look this up - I have only two tabs going and can juggle a few online tasks at once, duh. I feel a little worried I might not have figs or might not get the plant to bush out as much as my neighbors, but I also feel like waiting to see what an unmanaged fig does for at least one season. Also, if I wait until the fmarket starts I will see the woman I bought it from and will have the lovely, lovely thing that I can bring to the market and that is a question for a farmer, or at least gardener. So, I will let it go and stow this nugget of conversation bate for a few weeks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I have been so neglectful. Somehow I haven't been here since before I knew that we were moving (again) and since we have moved. Its all happened within about a year, but come on, a year andmy little blog attempt sits idle the whole time.
New town (western MI), new yard, new ideas. Sort of new ideas. We moved here mid June so, of course, my garden is pretty sparse. There was a large raised bed area of mostly day lillies and speedwort, which seems to be invasive. I think it is like the walking onion where its heavy seed pods just flop over and create more plants next door. Anyway, there is a ton of this really heavily rooted grass so editing and adding hasn't been so successful. The grass takes over, the plants don't seem to do so well. Part of the problem is flea beetles or ants eating the leaves off most of the perennials...another big problem could be that I'm planting perennials in the middle of the summer. Also, the stupid amount of rain. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, this dirt is like 80% sand. I have NEVER had to do sand. I was delighted at first to not have a heavy clay, back breaking clay to try to amend and drain and everything. Now its sand. Water disappears (which I guess is good with all the rain), but I'm sure any nutrients are gone, too. And I'm pretty sure the plants have a hard time standing up with their roots just flowing back and forth in their beds.
So, I've been concentrating on building up bushes, etc, and will probably do some overwintering stuff. I have the compost going, but the rain barrel is sitting out about 2 feet from the downspout that I haven't yet cut. I think I'll just throw that back in the garage.
I have bought cheap stuff at Menards, just to make me feel kind of pro active. I have mainly bought stuff that I have not had in previous gardens (as I said to a friend on the phone the other day "Fuck sedum, I've had enough sedum to last a lifetime"). So, there is a "low gro" sumac bush that promises to be great fall color, a dwarf pussy willow which has moved twice already, a willow bush (I think its called Chinese Willow) set right next to the downspout extension off our deck (that is some really nice looking foliage!) and a sweetspire that promises to smell great someday.
I'll post some pictures soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

lasagna garden didn't do too well. I think it was too hot and it was such a dry summer I couldn't keep it wet enough. yellow pear toms did okay and the tomatillos did well until a giant wind storm unrooted them and tossed them about the yard. The other garden did pretty well, staked heirlooms - striped german tomatoes are worth their weight in gold and the lipstick peppers were cute on the bush and sweet. I'm trying to dry the many really hot Pedron peppers that we grew. Hotter than cayenne?? Seem to be.
Neighbors grew really nice flat beans and gave me some seed pods to grow next year. They grew the ground cherry version of tomatillos which are like little tart pineapples in berry form. Or cherry form.
I started a new lasagna bed with my terrifically successful compost output. It is rectangular and in the full sun near the rain barrel. I'm trying to get some cool crop spinach and peas going and beets, carrots and parsnips to over winter. So far its been so wet and cool that not much has happened past sprout and a little growth.
I need to mention that my husband's job is sort of shaky and I am trying to rearrange things and make things look more normal in case we have to sell our house. SOO, I put a few bushes (variegated arborvitae, fountainy forsythia and the already misplaced viburnum near the cherry and dug out a islandy looking perennial bed to surround it. I was so proud. And disgusted. I moved the newly planted pussy willow to a better spot which will be move viewable from inside and I put a red twip dogwood where the stupid bed with tomatoes were and you can see that from the family room, too. I regraded the entire back area and am trying to get grass to go, but its wet and cold so some is coming and other parts are totally water logged. I have added TEN bags of cow manure to this clayey shit to make it better draining. I'm really happy with the way it all looks and just need to get over the idea that it might not really be for me or us. Its still a success.
The fennel was a dissappointment. I don't think I have the right type for bulb eating. It was so woody. It could be the dryness again, I suppose, but they were such flat bulbs and I really want the rounder ones. Next year I will try again.
Next year:
delicata squash
flat beans
striped german
other heirloom toms.
bulls horns peppers

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I am eating a mini harvest salad. A thinning salad, really. Linus' yaya carrots are really pushing eatother around so I thinned them out a bit. Lo and behold little bite carrots. The greens are lovely, too, so I chopped them up a little and threw them in with some purslane from my neighbor's garden. I am watching her garden while they are off traipsing around Europe and have had to pull some purslane for the toms and eggplant's benefit and put them directly in my garden to start a patch. This is really a nice self seeding green you can eat and should eat because it is so healthy. Easy, too. Kind of looks like jade and is nice a juicy.
So lastly, I decided to pull out the biggest fennel bulb in that patch - if I haven't mentioned it yet, I have a separate garden patch just for the fennel b/c I've read other veg don't like to share space with this beauty. So I just hilled up the patch two days ago, but there was a bulb that was big enough to chop and, of course, I threw in most of the feathery greens, too. So kind of needly texture, but excellent salad with a balsamic OJ vinagrette that I made earlier for bread dipping.
Now for the saddest part of my gardening endeavor. The giant canteloupe with the beautiful lobed leaves with silver brushstrokes was not a canteloupe, but a zucchini. Duh, and doh. I had seen the zucchini shaped squash forming and just couldn't believe that it wasn't going to balloon out. It was dark green. It kept getting longer. This was, of course, one of the plants I didn't plant, but had just started from the lasagna layers of winter compost. So, of course, it was a zucchini. When I finally decided to believe it, I ran outside and ripped it out of the ground because this is the melon patch and squash and melon can cross pollinate and the melon will end up bitter. So, hopefully the melon plants - at least I think - will go on to produce sweet fruit for us to gorge ourselves on in a month or two. There were a few amaranth seedlings struggling in the deep shade of the zuc that may happily grow to 6 feet tall now. And I spot to put dwarf cleome I took home from the garden club at the library.
Linus was very happy when it rained Tuesday so the garden club's beds would get a good drink. All three of them helped my bucket the rain barrel water to the beds the other night and had a lot of fun.
Pictures - any day now...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well, shit. I am not good at this as you can tell. So much has taken place in the garden and in my head planning, planning anew, scratching plans and winging it. The winging it is where I feel best. I call it Zen gardening, or zen yard work. I go from thing to thing and sort of remember something I was going to do along the way that probably would have been forgotten if I hadn't happen to head in this direction, etc. The thing that's important (I think) is that I'm out in it and doing rather than sitting inside, waiting, dreaming and scribbling sketches and plans only to be lost in the reams of paper my kids bring home from school.
So, I managed to start a bunch of things. Peppers (red "lipstick" - a small sweet pepper I'm hoping will convince the kids through its cuteness to eat, an orange bell and a small spicy "Padron" from Spain - think Tapas). I also got some vine heirloom tomatoes - the usual Cherokee, Striped German, etc) and some tomatillos. I was "good" and did a nice hardening off of most of this, BUT I put the tomatillos right into my hot unfinished compost bed and burned the hell out of them. Did I not mention that I have a hot unfinished compost bed made mostly of the trash can full of kitchen scraps accumulated over this long winter and some mushroom soil (really, what is this really) and a little bit of dirt. SOme newspaper in there, too. Anyhow, I have that stuff started and a friend gave me some yellow pear tomatoes in exchange for 12 crowns of asparagus, b/c, while I haven't mentioned them yet, the other 13 took up a fairly sizeable spot. Fennel is coming up around the now blooming white spirea. I put the peppers and tomatoes in a spot improvised when a two foot high maple sapling was discovered there and planting around it was the only way I could keep Jim from mowing it down. The kids planted carrots, beets and pumpkins (lots and lots of pumpkin seeds) in the two big barrel planters that I had used to hold the kitchen scraps from the fall. I have a bit of an herb garden going near the kitchen which I wish I could claim to go to everyday for cooking inspiration, but so far I made one omelet with chives and one soup with sage. Both are flowering nicely, prettily now and I think I'm going to garnish with chive flowers on something sometime soon. Basil is stillin infant stage and I keep forgetting to get (first find) taragon. I love taragon! So that's about what's going on, except there is some additional leveling of ground by rearranging sod (not recommended method, but I'm low on cash and flush in energy) and a poison ivy sighting and handling that seems to have gone okay.
Oh yeah, there is a 4 foot lovage plant in the front yard that looks interesting, giant ornamental celery bunch, but I must find some appropriate soup recipe soon. Maybe I'll make a few gallons of veggie stock and freeze it.
WAIT, very exciting. I get to see new green every day from my bedroom window as the "hot" bed pops new seedlings everyday from the melons (cantaloupes and water) and some beans.
So I'm caught up, and boy that's a good thing since no one reads this and I'm just reporting and not being very productive here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Placed an order with Johnny's seeds. I am such a mess - I have written down in about 10 different places the stuff I want to grow, how I want to grow it and what I need to order and what I have (couple years old now, but I'm still going to try the seeds). So I ordered tomatillos seeds (and will collect them for next year, too). Chard, carrots, peas, some other stuff and asparagus! Not seeds, the roots and 25 of them so my focus right now should be where they are going to go and getting that ready for when they arrive. Right after ordering them I had a pang of fear that I'm going to have to move again before they bear anything for us. This happened at our last houses. The new owner will probably be mortified by the phallic spears emerging from the ground in the next month or two.
So I have all of the kitchen scraps from the winter and could do a lasagna garden thing, but I'm not convinced this is the best thing for the asparagus plants. It could get to hot with the decomp, it could not get all the nutrients it needs, b/c the little bugs are busy breaking down. So, I think I might do a little lasagna thing at the bottom, but use a lot of finished compost up higher. (I'm planning to build a raised garden bed). SO, where the heck should it go. There is a spot that would get full sun most of the day, and is sort of protected by bushes in the winter.
raised bed pros:
neat and tidy, which i never am.
keeps out animals, especially when surrounded by rocks. what kind of rocks do I want? maybe the bricks from the garage? Maybe some slate?
keeps me space conscious, except I already predict that I will stick all seedlings in ground even if it means in the middle of the garden next to the garage getting very little sun.
Thinking, thinking...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Well, I haven't been here in a while, already. I was worried I would do this. Start and not kkep going, much like my attempt at NaNoWRiMo this year. (got to get back to that - i wrote over 4K words!). Anyway, 3 kinds under 8 - that's my excuse. Also, reading a lot instead of being constructive with garden planning, etc. At least I'm reading gardening books. Not the reference or how tos that I buy or get from the library and just glance through gaining little useful info. I just finished Roger B. Swain's The Practical Gardener, which is a good read, a fast read and full of little bits of info. I took some notes, but then just tried to enjoy the anecdotes about his gardening trials and travails. One chapter about experimenting or actually "trials" of gardening was very enlightening. "What passes for wisdom may in fact just be acquired prejudice". Which is true enough I may embroider it on a throw pillow.
I was thinking yesterday about how really really good and constructive it is to think about the past, near or far, and try to learn from it. ANd to think of it in a new light, for example... actually I can't think of a good example. Some ah ha. Ok, I have been thinking about moving to PA and how I have gone through depression trying to find myself here and say goodbye to my old home (Cleveland) and I have been thinking of it in terms of contact with friends and a well known environment, my memory creates these expectations, like the light in the dining room and the sound of rain on the windows. The view down the street.
This still isn't a good example of what I mean, but anyway, I now am trying to think of aclimating mind, my eyes, my senses to a new place and how that's a good thing. Changing your perspective is good.
Back to the garden. I discovered that the crocus bulbs I forgot to put in the ground were sprouting in the car port. So, I took some in a stuck them in some potting soil in a few pots. Maybe some will come up and it will be a little indoor spring thing. I don't usually like forcing bulbs - a colleague from work used to force paperwhites adn then give them to people for their desks. The smell would slowly take over the area, which happened to be a chemistry lab, and anyway they had a smell more repulsive than most chemicals. For me, at least. So, the crocuses will be cute. If it works.