My biggest project at the moment is my garden. I learned gardening from my parents. My mother always had a big vegetable garden when I was growing up, and Dad was all about the flowers, especially iris. I’ve tried as I’ve gone through the world, but it’s been very hit and miss. The last few years have been largely miss, as I’ve had three surgeries in four years and the separation with all the extra burdens that has put on me. But this year, THIS year is going to be different.
Note the rabbit.
Everything was overgrown and weed infested, the raised beds were rotting away, the front flower bed was so overgrown as to be indistinguishable from the lawn, and the compost bin was just getting turned back and forth without actually accomplishing anything. No more. I invested in 6 self irrigating planters which now hold the bulk of my vegetables.
I’ve got them planted with tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, two kinds of carrots and head lettuce, bok choi and spinach. The four raised beds had to be hand dug (and I do mean HAND) to pull out all the grass and weed roots. Once that was done, they were all down to less than half of their soil capacity. So I had Elder Junior turn the compost bin halfway and then sift the other half into the beds. Lovely stuff, three year old compost. But there was nowhere near enough to fill the beds. So each one got a bag and a half of garden soil and a quarter bag of peat moss so they’re all nice and full and loose again.
One bed is completely devoted to beans, lots and lots of beans. Mostly pole beans, because I want to have dried beans for winter soups, but I did put in a half dozen bushes of green beans for eating over the summer. I just have to learn how to french cut them. The next bed has the peas, basil and parsley and is the feeder bed for quick growing, short season veg. Right now it has leaf lettuce and green onions planted. I may add some beets yet. Brussel sprouts will go in where the peas are after they go past. The third bed is three different kinds of summer squash, four plants each of zuccini, yellow squash and these interesting round green squash which I’m curious to try. They might be fun stuffed. The last bed is melons. Three different kinds of yellow fleshed ones and one plant of what supposedly grows 100 lb watermelons. We’ll see if that one actually pays off, but it should be fun to watch!
In addition to that, I made 5 self-irrigating planters out of 5 gallon buckets and planted one up with cucumbers and the other 4 with my winter squash. I have a hard time with winter squash because the squash bugs are so dominant in our neighborhood. But I am determined that this year I will have squash to put away for the winter. I’m hoping that with them in a more contained space up off the ground, it will be harder for the squash bugs to get at them in the first place and easier to find the bugs and eggs if they do get in there.
And then there was the front flower bed. Good lord. I have that bed planted up with lots of bulbs, all iris, daffodils and day lilies, and then a couple of oddball things, lavender and comfrey. But again I haven’t maintained it in a couple of years, and the grass had reclaimed much of it. So I started in with the shovel and turning fork and dug the whole thing down six inches. Out came the lavender, now dead beyond saving. Out came piles and piles of iris corms, of round little daffodil bulbs, of clusters of day lily roots. Out went buckets of grass and roots and dead leaves and trash. In went three bags of garden soil and half a bale of peat moss. I edged it in bricks left over from the original early 19thc sidewalk that had been in front of our house when we bought it, which should make it easier to mow around it. I put back in one row of iris, one row of day lily and one row of daffodils. The comfrey plant is still there, and I added a sedum and a coreposis (I think) that a co-worker had given me last year which I’d never gotten into the ground and was sure were dead until the started poking their heads up. She gave me a bunch of new stuff this year, some geranium and black eyed Susan and some other lilies, so I put those in yesterday. It still looks a little pathetic, as the daffodils have all fallen over and can’t get up, but I’m going to mulch it do death with straw and hope they’ll poke their heads back up in the spring. The day lilies don’t look much better, so we’ll see what happens with them.
Now the only thing I have left to fight with is the rose bed. I put a rugosa rosebush in that bed probably 15 years ago, and it has just gone like gangbusters. The original bush is about 8 feet tall, and it’s put out runner pushes 10 feet away. It’s taken over the bed, which I’m fine with. Except. It has no ground cover, and the thorns on rugosas are ferocious. Forget about those refined thorns you know from florist roses. Rugosas are wild roses, and they will not be fucked with. Their thorns are needle-fine fuckers completely covering the stems, and you screw with them to your own peril. Just reaching in to pull weeds is a risky proposition. And there are a lot of weeds. I tried planting mint hoping it would work as a ground cover to keep the other weeds down. The mint took, but it seems to be living in harmony with all the other crap trying to keep a foothold in there. Bastards. So I think it all needs to come out, around all the rose canes that are popping up in there, and then I need to put down HEAVY mulch to try and keep the weeds from getting back in. Time for heavy shirts and leather work gloves. May stuff some of the mint roots in the lawn so it smells good when we mow.