Friday, August 29, 2014

A Short Vacation Break

I love the mountains.  My husband loves the coast.  But we both love nature and outdoor recreation, so any vacation that affords us rest and relaxation in the great outdoors is usually fine with both of us.  We just returned from a trip to the Florida Keys.  Alpine dreamer or no, I must admit that seeing avocado and mango orchards, coconut groves, sea grapes, and a variety of fragrant, flowering trees warmed this gardener's heart.  

I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have/could have/might have.  We were just too busy snorkeling and fishing and were hardly ever on dry land during the day.  But I have returned from vacation with a renewed energy and interest in my garden.  I also have a new appreciation for its diminutive size; it affords us more time to enjoy other activities as well. 

I love gardening and gardens, but I am finding, to my surprise, that a small garden is plenty enough to make me happy.  I am sure that not everyone feels the same way.  In fact, I can well understand the opposite, that some would prefer to spend to spend most of their time working and playing in their own gardens.  But it is not a bad thing to understand our limitations, whatever they might be, and simplicity can be splendid.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

My New Planter Box

I'm so excited!  Finally, a raised vegetable bed!  My back is already celebrating!  I have realized that that it's north/south configuration isn't ideal.  I don't know what I was thinking -- even my last patch was east/west, which would have been the preferred option had it been available to me.  But I'm not worried.  It's so very hot here and a four or five hours of sun will likely go a long way.  I will try to plant strategically. 
Now that my "patch" is so convenient, I am eager to make it as productive as I possibly can.  I've been reading everything I can about intensive gardening.  I was glad to discover an excellent article by Linda A. Gilkeson on the Mother Earth News website, comparing Mel Bartholomew's square-foot gardening and John Jeavons'  biointensive method.
Gilkeson recommends "customizing" one's intensive gardening system.  The best approach is to employ common sense, of course, blending the two methods as necessary for what works best for the gardener and space.  Certainly that goes for gardening of any kind.
My concern for now is soil quality.  We are going to have a few yards of soil delivered to spread in the box and certain, needy areas of the garden proper.  It will be a vegetable garden mix and of course I should be able to see, smell, and feel the quality and texture  But while I would rather not take a soil test, I am worried about nutrients.  I have only just started composting again and have nothing "homemade" to contribute at this time.  Should I buy ladybugs?  Can I purchase earthworms?        
I will probably follow Jeavons' approach and use the soil I (will) have, as is, amending it over time.   As for the good bugs, I think I will hang onto the hope that they will find their way to the patch one way or another.  
If anyone has recommendations or suggestions, please, I'm begging you, speak up! 
As for flowers, we don't have too many right now in the garden. We have a long way to go as for as our ornamental beds are concerned.  That's not a complaint, by the way.  I love the challenge.  I have not yet planted many stalwart and fairly ferocious perennials.  Most of our plants seem to be resting for now, as is the gardener!
We do have some lovely purslane.  We enjoy it in both salads and the garden.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Small Being a Relative Matter

This was my vegetable patch at my old house.  It was pretty pitiful, considering the space I had.  It was too wide, up against the property line, right next to an open field.  Weeds were a nightmare!  But there was no way I would abandon it.  It had been created by a loved one as a surprise for me.  The grass and weeds had been painstakingly removed, the soil turned, and various edging materials placed.  I was happy that it ran North-South and that a pecan tree shaded it from the worst of the afternoon sun.  It was more than my husband or I had managed and it was more than enough space given my time constraints.  I had a lot of ornamental beds and an orchard to consider!  But I while I loved my little patch, I never particularly liked it.  

In my new garden, I have very little room for a veggie-specific bed.   The only space that seems somewhat promising is the very narrow strip between our house and the fence.  I've been debating for quite some time as to what I might do with that area.  The windows are those of our kitchen/breakfast area and I wasn't sure if I wanted to look out and see flowers and more flowers or a raised vegetable bed.



Another issue is privacy.  At first I thought that I just had to have tall ornamentals to at least conceal a part of our backyard from passersby.  But I think a nice, fairly tall cedar box and, hopefully, some healthy vegetables will suffice.  

I 'm looking forward to my new little vegetable patch!  I've always wanted a raised vegetable bed filled with rich, wonderful soil.  The configuration will again be north-south and now the plants will be protected from the elements.  It should be eighteen feet long and two feet wide, which I think will be enough for a nice, cool season salad crop.  I was reading about raised beds and one writer referred to a "small, raised garden of 250 square feet".  I started laughing.  Clearly, "small" is in the eyes of the beholder.  What would that writer call my thirty-six square feet?

If you're wondering if I mind, considering the space I used to have, I don't blame you.  As for my future vegetable patch, I can honestly say that I'm feeling very optimistic.  I will be able to gaze outside my kitchen window and watch my edible garden grow, which I've never been able to do in any house we've lived in.   I'm happy that it's going to be a raised bed in a protected area.  Since I'm not very experienced at growing a food crop and life has gotten rather busy, I have hopes that my little vegetable garden will be just right for me!