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Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

  
Last summer, a friend of mine brought me a baby pool for my dog that he found on Freecycle. 

Meghan loves to get in the baby pools at doggie daycamp, so I quickly pulled out the hose and began filling the pool.  

It didn’t take long to discover a large crack in the bottom of the pool.  Argh!!! The pool would not hold water.

What to do?  The pool was too large to fit in my car, so I couldn’t haul it to the dump.  My friend who brought it to me did not want to take it off my hands.  I was stuck…

…until I decided to try the pool as a planter.  Maybe it would work for carrots and beets, two things that don’t grow well in my mostly clay soil.

Fast forward a year, and I’ve finally gotten my act together to create my new planter.

 
I placed the pool on several layers of plastic, in an area of my back yard that gets afternoon shade.  According to the seed packets, this is necessary in a hot climate like mine.  

 
I then cut quite a few more holes for drainage.

  
I then mixed up some soil, sand, compost and manure. 

  
I pulled out the carrots, beets and parsley demi-long.  I think I ordered that last packet by mistake, as I have no idea what it is!

  
Carrots are on the left, parsley demi-long in the middle, and beets on the right.

We’ll see how my pool planter works.  Meanwhile, it’s time to pull out the new, leak-free baby pool so Meghan and I can cool off.

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I have a not-so-well-kept secret. Anyone walking in my yard immediately figures it out: I am not the world’s most immaculate gardener.

In the past few years, I’ve been able to divide my yard into “summer” gardens and “winter” gardens. And, for the most part, I’ve been able to get seeds in the ground on time so they have an opportunity to grow.

But I’m not so good about keeping on top of weeding and keeping the bushes trimmed.  Also, I’ve somehow been unable to clean up most of my winter garden beds after the plants in those beds have died.

The bad thing about my procrastination is that I never get cover crop in the soil to provide more nutrients. But, I’ve found that there’s also a benefit to my laziness: free plants!  Not only do many of the greens re-seed themselves in place — I haven’t bought kale seed for years! — but they also show up in unexpected areas.

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The Asian green above is living in a bed along with spring bulbs, pink yarrow and various weeds.   I planted the original seeds about five years ago; now the seed packet (and the memory of this green’s name) is long gone, but I still get to enjoy free food.

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The mustard greens, above, are growing in one of the pathways in my backyard.  Disregard the other weeds that are also thriving in the pathway.

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I must be especially bad about cleaning up mustard greens,  Because, in addition to the original bed in which they grew and the walkway above, a large patch  has sprung up on the side of my yard nowhere near any of my garden beds.   Yum yum!

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Besides greens, I find a lot of cornflowers in random places.  Usually, they sprout in the spring, but this poor guy got confused by our warm fall weather.  I hope the plant makes it through this current patch of cold temperatures, but if it doesn’t, I know that there will be more to take its place come spring!

Anyone else have a messy garden?

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Nothing says summer to me more than sunflowers — except perhaps a Sunday supper cobbled together from the garden.

We’ve had a cooler spring, so a lot of my summer vegetables are late in arriving.  Tomatoes, for instance, are still green on the vine.   But finally the zucchini and yellow squash have arrived, as have the green beans.

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I sauteed some onion, garlic and mushrooms, then added the chopped zucchini, squash and snapped beans.  Then I added some pinto beans I had already cooked, along with two cans of diced tomatoes and some Italian seasoning and let it all stew.   Yum!

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For dessert, I had some blackberries from the garden.

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Now for another of my summer favorites: an after-dinner walk in the cool of the evening.

What’s on your plate tonight?

 

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I’ve lived in my current house for 13 years, though some of my neighbors have been here for decades.  Take Ben, for example.  Ben grew up in the wooden 800-square-foot house around the corner.  A few years older than me, Ben recalled playing with the boys who lived in my house.  (Maybe they were the source of all those empty beer bottles in the old shed out back?)

Ben also remembered staying down the street at Grandma and Grandpa Jones’ house while his mother was at work.    The Jones’ lived in a white one-story house next to the Baptist church.  According to Ben, the Jones’ were the first blacks in the neighborhood to have a television set as well as indoor plumbing.  He spent many a summer night playing in their yard, eating dinner at their kitchen table, and watching their tv.

Grandpa Jones was still alive when I first moved here, though I never met him.  He passed away about five years ago.  Unfortunately, his house then became a haven for drug users and fell into disrepair. A once meticulously cared-for home had cracked windows and peeling paint.  The yard, always fertilized and neatly mowed, was weedy and overgrown.  Junk cars lined the driveway. I could imagine the Jones were turning over in their graves!

Luckily for the neighborhood, the new owners of the Jones family homestead did not pay the taxes, so the county swooped in and took possession.   The house was sold to the Baptist church  next door and torn down to build a parking lot.

But before it was torn down, I received permission to dig up the two rose bushes that lived near the front porch.  One, a climbing red rose, did not survive the transition.  The other, a orange-yellow tea rose, has thrived at my house.  Maybe it’s the cold winter we had or the extremely wet spring, but the bush this year is absolutely covered in blooms.

Looking at my rescued rose bush, I think about Grandma and Grandpa Jones.  I imagine the love with which the bush was first planted and the happy times their family shared in my neighborhood.  I hope to be a good caretaker for this bush, and to keep both its blooms and the memories associated with it alive for years to come.

 

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Garden Friends

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I had a few friends join me in the garden today.

The frog, pictured above, was happily hibernating in one of my “summer” rows. Luckily I didn’t hurt it when I was digging some clover into the soil.

Froggie found a new place to sleep near the newly planted squash.

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Luckily for the frog, Patches the cat was settling down for an afternoon nap on top of my deer fencing!

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In contrast to last weekend’s cold, wintry weather,  this weekend was balmy and spring-like.  I took advantage of the sunny conditions and let my seedlings sit outside for the day.  They loved the sun!

Everything seems to be growing nicely.   The peppers, pictured above, are getting big enough to transplant to larger containers.

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Last weekend, I moved the first flat of tomatoes to larger pots and gave them a dose of fish emulsion.  It looks like the seedlings have already doubled in size.  The second flat of tomatoes, started last weekend, are already sprouting.

I also started a flat of squash last week, and the zucchini, below, is beginning to appear.

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My snow peas and sugar snaps had grown so big, I just had to transplant them.  They are now living in pots, pictured below.

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Next weekend, I’ll start some green beans and eggplant.  And if I’m really brave, I’ll start the purple hull peas.

Until then, I’m hoping the rain lets up some so I can get in the garden beds to weed and dig in the cover crop so I’ll have somewhere to plant all these lovely seedlings!

 

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A pepper seedling!

So now I know the trick:  when seedlings aren’t germinating, just write a blog post and that will generate the extra energy necessary to get the seeds going.

This seedling is most likely a chocolate bell.  Here’s hoping at least one of the other varieties also sprouts.

 

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