Tag Archives: gardening

Volunteers

There’s something seriously magical about plants volunteering in the garden. Especially when you kinda recognize them, but they could be any number of varieties, such as this little guy volunteering in the middle of my row of carrots, who looks like some kind of squash… but is he a pumpkin? A spaghetti squash? A zucchini?

Some of his pals are in my row of chard seeds.

What a delicious mystery!

Landscaping with Rocks

I started putting some rocks around my front garden beds to stop the erosion that happens when the clouds open up, as they do here in the South, and unload a heaven-sized bucket of water. It washes everything down the sidewalks, and I thought lining them with some of the big rocks the builders abandoned in the field across from my house would hold back the dirt.

Then I got a little carried away.

And the overall effect…

Good times.

More fun with gardening

Here’s one of the twiggy apple trees in the front garden:

Just beyond it you can the see decorative cherry I moved and somehow didn’t kill.

Here’s the twiggy fig:

The dude at the local nursery where we bought the trees explained that figs aren’t actually fruit, they are like the hip (as in, rose hips) of the partially opened flower, or something like that. I’ve never actually tried one as they look pretty creepy to me, but my husband loves them, and I think watching the whole process from tiny tree to harvest might inspire me to give them a try (they are just SO ugly!!!)

When I was at Home Depot getting the stakes for the apple trees, I couldn’t resist buying some flowers:

One of my best friends got me the rosemary all the way to the right, and it’s doing brilliantly, but the poor little scraggly gardenia just got stepped on too many times. I’m not sure if it will survive my small children. Maybe now that there are flowers in that bed, the kids will stay out of it (a girl can dream…)

While I was at the store I saw people buying tomato plants and such, and although I think it’s way too early for that, I figured I might gamble on starting them from seed this early…

The big containers are lettuce, and in the box are tomatoes, basil, beans and zukes.

It’s so nice to be outside getting dirty!

Apple Trees

We went to a local nursery and bought a couple of Gala apple trees, which I planted in front of the house.

I tried to take a picture of them, but they are so spindly and without leaves that they are quite unimpressive and hard to distinguish in a photograph.

I think I probably killed the decorative cherry when I moved it, but it was one of the things Habitat had already planted, and this poor thing had been butchered multiple times so that it is like a big fat trunk with a few thin branches poking off the top. I do hate to kill plants, but I couldn’t just leave this orphaned, deformed thing in the perfect spot for one of the apple trees.

Skimming through advice online for apples, I read that if one doesn’t employ some type of pesticide, one’s yield will be of very poor quality, so at some point I may have to investigate organic types of pest repellants.

If anyone reading this is experienced with apple trees and wants to share a few hints, I’d be most grateful.

Otherwise, think appley thoughts for us, that we might enjoy a decent harvest in a few years.

Sacrificial Lamb

The day before yesterday when I was jonesing to get out into the garden, get my hands dirty, when I was anticipating enjoying the fruits of my efforts, I had a visceral understanding of why people would traditionally make a sacrifice to the gods to ensure a good harvest. Obviously for them it was more a matter of survival than it is for me, but just the feeling of being willing to do anything, look, I’ll even slit the throat of this cute little lamb and leave it on your altar, anything.

Yesterday I went first thing and bought myself a couple of new tools and then prepared a raised bed. Shored up with concrete blocks the far end which slopes down the hill. Used the shovel A LOT.

This morning, I realize what the sacrifice has been. My body. It’s hurtin’. Definitely not a cute little lamb, but something I’m apparently willing to put on the chopping block, in a manner of speaking, to make the garden happen.

I hope it is enough of a demonstration of my commitment to convince the sun, rain, soil and seeds to cooperate.

Lettuce Away!

I loved it last year when my husband would go out on the deck to pick some lettuce for the lunch he was packing himself. Thinking of him eating homegrown, organic lettuce in his lunch, which he might eat really far from home, covering some news story that was stressing him out and making him believe even more than he already does that the human race is f***ed… it makes me feel like I might be contributing to the good of the world.

Maybe he will taste hope. Maybe he will taste the love of a wife, the warm care of the sun, the solid affection of the dirt, the tasty freshness of lettuce grown on your own porch.

Maybe it will be reflected in his story, which many will read, and the love will make it through the labyrinth, somehow, and feed the world.

Such tiny seeds. Such big dreams.

NOT lettuce, obviously, but I am reusing the big black containers... also I like to remember my basil...

Gave in… Fingers crossed.

I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s such a gorgeous day outside, and the winter has been so mild, I figured I’d gamble a couple of bucks, go ahead and plant the carrot and radish seeds I bought weeks ago in breathless anticipation.

Sure, they’re calling for snow tomorrow and Monday. But you know, they do that occasionally, and 99 times out of 100 it’s a bunch of hooey.

I may have jinxed us for a blizzard.

Either way, carrots or snow, I’ll be happy!

Compost Buckets With Flair

Our Compost Bucket -- "Party Mix - For People You Hate"

My husband decided to customize our compost bucket. He’s a good one for covering all contingencies, such as finding oneself burdened with undesirable company. Just offer them a delightful assortment of rotting lemon rinds, coffee grounds and slimy egg shells with an ever-so-delicate sprinkling of half-chewed toast!

Reminds me of when I was a kid and my father would just happen to take out the compost bucket while I was eating dinner (my parents like to pretend they’re European and eat at 9 or 10 o’clock at night, but I, being comfortable with my Americanness, preferred to eat at the more civilized hour of 5 o’clock, so it was always me dining solo.) He’d sneak up behind me and waft the bucket under my  nose, inquiring politely, “You want some of this?” then chuckle as I squealed in horror.

Come to think of it, my husband and my father have pretty much the same sense of humor.

I’m not going to extrapolate the available information and consider the possibility that my father saw me as an unwelcome guest. After all, there was nothing written on his bucket.

But if you’re visiting my house and you think my husband’s about to take out the compost… you might want to brace yourself.

Rain Barrels

On the road to self-sufficiency, to living off the grid as much as possible, we’ve purchased four rain barrels.

Apparently when I use city water to irrigate, I get charged twice. Once for the clean water, then again for the “sewer,” since presumably what comes out of their system must surely be going back in.

Except it’s not always.

And the summertime thunderstorms in our area produce an amazing amount of water.

So why not use what falls freely from the sky?

I know, not a novel idea. Just a new homeowner reveling in the new possibilities.

Not that you have to own your own home to have rain barrels, but when you live in places where you fully intend to move at any second, then spending the money and effort to rig up some kind of permanent system of your own is quite low on the old priority list.

Right now they are sitting behind the house, waiting for my husband to finish up other projects before he constructs them permanent platforms, hooks them to the rain spouts on the roof and installs spigots in them. Yet another reason I’m excited for next year!

Land as Palette

Earlier this year my husband and I, with the help of the generous staff and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity, bought a house on .18 acres of land.

Yes, that’s a decimal point. That’s almost two-tenths of an acre. With a five bedroom house on it.

I’m not complaining. In my ideal world, I’d have more land, but in the real world, I never thought I’d own anything. I owe it all to the fact that my life partner is relentlessly driven and hopelessly dedicated to providing for his family.

Having lived here only seven months, the land is still relatively blank, like a canvas waiting for a work of art to bloom upon it.

Although our imaginations are constrained by space restrictions, in a sense, it allows us to be even more creative. We have to get wacky and funky (which we both love to do) with our designs, and we are forced to narrow down what actually matters to us and what we can live without.

For me, I very much want: vegetable garden, strawberry patch, fire pit/hang out area, herb garden

For my husband: fruit trees, workshop

This morning we drew a sketch of the property and played with possibilities. I am acutely aware of what a special time this is, to lay the foundation of the life we will live.

It will, Great Spirit willing, be a life of food, family gatherings and creativity.