Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garden Day 7

Today I tackled the redesign. The two large raised beds that composed the north two thirds of the garden were converted to three long beds I could actually reach to the middles of. They're not especially even. I then covered the paths with newspaper mulch. I was going to further mulch them with leaves but there were no carts available to haul the leaves. Not even
April and the gardens are a hive of activity.

Garden Day 6

Yesterday I got back out to the garden again and spent a couple more hours weeding. At first I was attacking the weeds with my trowel and now I have my first blisters of the season to show for it. Then I finally figured out a technique for shoveling up a piece of earth and picking the weeds out of it. It turned out to be much faster. Now about 2/3 of the garden is practically weed free except for the paths. I intend to just cultivate them and bury them in newspaper and leaves.

I met some members of the family across the main path while we were working. The man, who I assume is the father of the toddler that was happily exploring their garden told me "It's a good neighborhood. Lots of children." I thought that was a nice way to think about it. By taking an abandoned plot I had joined a neighborhood. However, he warned me that lots of children meant I shouldn't expect too many strawberries if I grow them. "They're as bad as rabbits!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What to Grow...What to Grow...

I've spent some time this past winter pondering what to grow in our garden. It's probably been a good ten years or more since the co-conspirator and I shared a plot with our neighbor friends. Back then anything was something so we weren't too concerned about intensive production. For some reason--probably miserliness--I'm more focused on getting more bang for the buck from this year's plot. Consequently, the first part of the season is going to be focused on a variety of greens. Planted early and growing relatively quickly, I think I can get a succession of different crops in various overlapping combinations. I've purchased some seeds, dug some out of the cupboard that I was using for sprouting (radish sprouts in sushi rolls = yum!) and a friend has come through sharing a variety of seeds from his vast collection. At this point in time I have packets, jars and vials of:

Arugula - Apollo
Basil - Italian Genovese
Bean - Black Turtle
Bean - Black Valentine
Bean - Christmas
Bean - Henderson Bush Lima
Bean - Horto
Bean - Jacob's Cattle Gasless (!)
Bean - Lina Cisco's Bird Egg
Bean - Ralph Ducher's White Kidney
Beet - Bull's Blood
Broccoli Raab
Buckshorn Plantain, Minutina
Carrot - Dragon
Carrot - Scarlet Nantes
Cowpea - California Blackeye #5
Kohlrab - Purple and White Vienna Blend
Lettuce - Lettuce Mixture (SSE)
Lettuce - Lolla Rossa
Lettuce - Tango
Lettuce - Tom Thumb (Butterhead)
Lettuce -Marvel of Four Seasons
Mache, Corn Salad
Mustard Green - Ruby Streaks
Nho Gai
Pea - Dwarf Gray Sugar
Racicchio - Carmen
Radish - Chinese Rose Winter
Root Parsley - Hamburg Root Parsley
Shinguku Chrysanthemum Greens
Silverbeet - Five Color
Spinach - Bloomsdale
Spinach - Correnta
Spinach - Olympia
Sunflower - Italian White
Sunflower - Moulin Rouge

Later I'll be planting at least tomatoes and probably peppers as well. Have I mentioned that the garden is a whopping 250 square feet including paths?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Garden Day 1

I've started working in our garden plot. As I mentioned before, we applied for a plot in the Eagle Heights Community Garden this season. Recently we found out we got one and this past weekend was the official opening. Yesterday I set aside an hour after work to get up there and start doing I didn't really know what, but I did know I wanted to get going. It's a good thing I dug right in.

As it turns out, our particular plot was in need of a lot of cleanup. In the foreground you can see two raised areas, the one farther back bearing a mysterious heap. Beyond them is yet another bed that spanned the whole plot, half of which belongs this year to someone we haven't yet met. It is, as the foreground bed was, covered in plastic mulch surrounding some kind of abandoned cabbagey plants. Sprinkled thickly through the paths and on the mounds are patches of quackgrass. After half an hour of desperate hoeing, cultivating and cursing (quietly--it's a family garden after all) I realized the only way to get rid of it was to painstakingly dig out each plant with a trowel. Even this way I know I'm not getting it all, but if I can set it back significantly it will help.

The mysterious heap appears to be where someone dumped what should have gone to the compost heap when they didn't feel like traveling that far. It's a mess of soil, plant parts--including more quackgrass!--and scraps of landscape fabric. I hauled some of it away but am now thinking it will be easier to just rake it out, pick out the weeds and trash and let it finish composting in place.

Day one was discouraging. I'm terribly out of shape so a single hour of chopping, digging and hauling has left me a little stiff and sore. I've decided I can't really in good conscience have the plot tilled as I had planned to. The process would just chop up and redistribute the quackgrass. So, I've got hours of trowel zen in front of me. There's no quick, brute strength solution. I'll just plod on believing there is going to be a really fantastic salad at some point in my future.

Next time: What I may grow

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Christmas in March!

OK, not really. In fact, I just dragged the xmas tree to the curb that had been serving as a bird perch in the back yard. But my Helleborus niger are blooming! One of their common names is Christmas Rose because in some places they bloom around the end of December. I've only once found a small, weak flower on mine in that season. Instead, these sit with their buds right at ground level all winter. This way they can even beat the Crocus to the punch, provided the snow goes away as it did this last week.

Also, coincidentally, I bought some Christmas Beans while I was visiting Alabama last week. I know nothing about them other than that they're a "pole lima" type. It's cool that I can buy almost a pound of them in bulk for cooking for about the same price a few dozen individual beans would have cost me in a seed packet. I haven't decided how I'll cook them. I may even save a few to plant in my garden this year. I mostly got them because I thought they looked cool.