Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Garden 2014

It was so good to get my hands in the dirt again! Learning every year from experience, this year I'm being conservative with the tomatoes -- two plants should be plenty. The garden no longer has much sun because of the growth of trees, so I've got the tomatoes at the sunny end, along with a few cucumbers planted along a trellis. The other trellis is for the Chinese long beans -- free to me every year since I save a few beans from the ones that get lost in the mature bean bramble at the end of the season. Also "free" to me this year are the French breakfast radish seeds left over from last year. The rest of the plants were not very expensive though -- 99 cents for about 100 Georgia sweet onions, and $3.00 each for 8 packs of lacinato kale and rainbow chard ($3 per 8-pack, not per plant!). The herbs, which I've planted in pots, cost no more than if I had bought small packages for cooking in the produce section, and will produce all summer long, and just may come back again on their own next season. Sometimes a mild winter will afford a rebound crop.

Every year, mild or not, my peppermint pot has prolifically bounced back, but this spring I found the pot to be infested with thousands of [fast moving] ants or termites. I picked up the pot and ran it away from the house, away from the garden, but had to put it down quickly before extremely well-organized and speedy regimental lines of soldiers made their way into each armpit.  Ughhhh (shudder)! I was quick and calm enough to effectively swipe the vanguard from my limbs before I was chowed-upon, which supports my theory of termites versus ants. I wonder how well Pinocchio would have fared in the same circumstance. So I repurposed a different pot for the new mint. The termite pot may need to be a loss, unless I can come up with some non-toxic way to eradicate the critters without sending them somewhere else I don't want them.

Last season provided two particularly good gardening wisdom nuggets:
1. Onions are the best deterrent to darling woodland creatures who would eat my food! I planted them all around the perimeter of the garden and also more thickly around tender greens, which happen to be Peter Rabbit's favorite.
2. Don't use soil containing fertilizer. Duh. I was a lazy gardener last year. I wound up with long, lanky tomato vines with nary a fruit.

This year I used my compost for the first time, which finally looked like soil and not garbage:

Some newspaper is still visible there, but that was part of my "brown matter" and will break down pretty easily. I stirred in a bag of peat moss to lighten the mix. I have a dual-chamber composter. It is interesting to compare the different stages of decomposition of each. The compost really doesn't stink! You just have to be careful what you put in it -- only veggie matter.

Here's the sad garden before I cleaned it up a bit and gave it new life. I had covered it with newspaper for the winter in an attempt to eradicate weeds. I don't know if it'll work.

"Ahh," I can almost hear the garden saying as it gets its first drink of the season, "that's better,"

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