Monday, April 16, 2007


Warning! A rather long and schizophrenic post follows:

I have had a rather ambitious project in mind for the past 3 years since we moved into our house in January of 2004. I wanted a veggie garden. Just a small one, enough to get my fill of my favorite veggies. Talmadge isn't much of a veggie eater, so I'll be enjoying this one for the both of us!

In 2004, I could barely keep the two potted plants that I had alive. I had killed off my ficus tree a year earlier while we were still living at the apartment in Savannah.

In 2005, I still had aspirations of gardening. I read a few gardening books, but still wasn't sure if I was up to the task. I did discover a wild blackberry vine that was growing in the corner of the yard and managed to get enough blackberries from that plant to make a nice blackberry cobbler.

In 2006, I tried my hand at "container gardening" on the back patio. I had a tomato, a pepper, a cucumber, and a squash plant. I found a couple more blackberry bushes. My bumper crop for the year yielded me 4-5 decent red tomatoes and, at the end of the season a bunch of small green tomatoes (good thing I adore fried green tomatoes!!), one huge cucumber and 2 smaller ones, a huge squash and couple of smaller ones, and 2 nice peppers. Not quite sure what type of pepper plant this was. I thought it was a bell pepper plant, but they took more of a tapered form but tasted like a bell pepper. It wasn't hot. Oh, and more blackberries for a couple of cobblers and just munching on.

Which brings us into 2007.........the bug has bitten. In winter, Tal and I stopped at "Beaver Bucks" which used to be a pretty big video/music store which has dwindled to part video/dvd, bargain basement music cassettes and rap cd's and part everything's a dollar store. Looking around, I came across a box full of post-season vegetable seeds, 4 for a dollar. I went nuts and left that store with about $5 worth of veggie seeds and visions of a lush green veggie garden in my head.

My brain began forming the plan - I would carve out a small section of our not so huge backyard with the reasoning that it would be less grass for Tal to mow - his favorite chore - so how could he protest?!?! Weeks ago, I started making newspaper seed starter pots based on a plan I found on the internet. I was determined to be the frugal gardener! After our West Virginia vacation in March, I bought some seed starting medium, filled my little paper pots, and planted my seeds. It was warm enough outside, that I put the seeded pots in a plastic underbed storage box that I had, put the lid on it, and put it outside on a table near the patio. It was like a mini-greenhouse! Just enough ventilation so the plants wouldn't smother, and it kept the warmth and humidity inside. To my delight, within a week I could see little green shoots peeking from amongst the newsprint! Over the next week the seedlings just went nuts! So much so that I had to take the lid off the box otherwise the plants would have pushed them off.

I had planned to get the plot ready the weekend before last, however we ended up having cold snap and I had to bring the plants into the garage so they'd be safe and sound.

This past weekend, it was time. I got up early Saturday morning (okay - around 9:30. That's early for ME on a Saturday!) with the best of intentions. I rolled my little cable-spool table out near my garden-to-be, set up the beach umbrella in the little hole in the middle of the table, got out my folding chair, and all my tools and equipment and the ever-important radio (HEY, gotta have tunes to work to, right???). Got a bowl of cereal, a huge glass of iced tea, and came outside to find that the bottom of the cable-spool table had broken, spilling the radio and the umbrella to the ground. I went and got the umbrella stand, put the umbrella in that, set the table back up, put the piece that broke back underneath to support it, put the radio back on the table, sat down, and enjoyed my soggy Lucky Charms while listening to "Car Talk" on public radio and formulating my garden game plan while Puddy helped me out by spreading a little fertilizer.

First, I would use the edger to mark the outer perimeter of the plot. OK, got the edger and extension cord - extension cord not long enough and remembered that I threw out the other extension cord because it was old and frazzled. Grr. So I stomp into the house, grab my purse, and run up to Wally World where I not only purchase an extension cord, but a variety of other items I did not intend to buy.....then back to the house where I discover the umbrella has hit the dirt again. I fold the fallen umbrella and lay it down in the yard, and move the table and my chair over to the shade beside the house, plug in the other extension cord, connect everything up and start running the edger along the areas I've marked. I complete one edge and look behind me to see - nothing. Where's my line? OK, well this idea sucked. I guess I'll just go ahead and start hoeing and raking. I got a "Garden Claw" from the store I was going to use to cultivate, aerate, pulverize, and otherwise prepare the soil to accept my tender little seedlings. You know, like it does on the commercials. HA!! I got maybe one square foot of soil done, looked at the other 127 or so square feet to go and thought, "I'll be here until Memorial Day trying to get this done!" and convinced Talmadge that I needed to go rent a tiller. So off to the rental store we go.

Tal and I return home with what we eventually ended up dubbing "The Machine From Hell". Got it unloaded and pushed it to the backyard and positioned at the corner of the plot, fiddled with the controls, and pulled the starter cord. It sputtered to life, I released the brake and let it go. We were sure we'd have this little approximately 8x16 spot done in no time and return the machine before the store closed at 5:30. As we stood there scratching our heads and watching the machine churn away slowly at the ground, we saw that was not going to happen. Then we discovered the accelerator. We turned that thing up to 11, I released the brake, and it took off across the plot dragging me behind. I managed to get my footing, engaged the brake, and dragged the machine back to the starting point. Tal and I took turns letting the machine drag us across the yard and managed to get one row of tilling done before we collapsed from sheer exhaustion and decided that the ground was too hard to till because of the lack of rain in the area. We were expecting a major storm that night and hoping it would soak and soften the ground. But to hedge, we thought maybe we'd give the soaking a head start and dragged the sprinkler out. It's one of those bow-shaped ones - you know, the ones that shoot off several streams in the shapes of a fan that we used to jump through when we were kids. The little piece that makes it sweep back and forth was broken(that should surprise you how?). Talmadge fiddled with it, trying to make the streams cover the entire plot, at one point pushing on it with his foot which only made it flip over and soak him from head to toe while I stood by and laughed my ass off. I couldn't help it, the way the day had been going so far I almost expected it!

That's how our evening ended. I straightened up the yard, putting all the equipment on the patio and doing a little trimming of branches and such. Tal called the rental place to let them know we were keeping the tiller a little longer.

The next day, the ground was much softer after the soaking. The bad storm that was supposed to hit the night before pretty much fizzled out before it got here and we got only a sprinkling of rain - running the sprinkler was a lucky bit of foresight on our part! The day had started out warm, but it soon turned gusty and cold. We finished the tilling and I raked, weeded, and leveled out the plot then dug a trench between the house and the plot for the irrigation drip line.

Because of the wind I decided to wait to put in the plants so they wouldn't get broken or blown away. So now all I have left to do is mark the rows, plant the seedlings, run the drip lines up the rows, water and fertilize the plants, and then let God take over. Hopefully by mid- to late-summer I will literally be enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of my labor!

What am I planting, you ask? I've got tomatoes, peppers, onions, okra, corn, beets, carrots, jalapeno peppers, a variety of colored bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, green beans, pole beans, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelons, and cucumbers. I'll have a couple of hanging baskets with cherry tomatoes and strawberries, a little patch of mammoth sunflowers, two planter boxes - one with a regular mesclun mix and another with a spicy mesclun mix, and regular planter with nasturtium. Oh, and lets not forget the patch of wild blackberries in the wetlands. Think I need anything else???

Maybe I should plant some flowers, perhaps some that would attract some of the helpful insects. Like maybe some ladybugs to eat the aphids, honeybees to pollenate the plants, even perhaps an iron butterfly or two........I just hope this doesn't turn out to be a "$64 tomato"!!

4 high-fives:

nettiemac said...

DANG! That is one nice garden! Will keep my fingers crossed that you have an abundance of delights!

Seraphim9 said...

The dream of the garden is nice, how is actually turns out is up to Mother Nature!

Hopefully if you come to visit this summer I'll have some veggies for us to gnosh on, with some of that wonderful hummus I love so much or the tofu ranch dip like I made last time you were here! My mouth is watering already. I told Tal that I was planning to be a vegetarian - at least while the veggies last! LOL!


Kate/Susan said...

WOW! I'm impressed, Sera!!! What a garden!!

Have you ever sprouted seeds hydroponically? All you need is a Ziploc bag, water, a paper towel and some tape. It's pretty easy too. I'd love to have the link where you found the newspaper idea.

Seraphim9 said...

I did sprout an avacado seed like that once when I was younger, but haven't done anything like that since.

As far as the newspaper pots, the site that I got it from is no longer in existence for whatever reason. They do have some instructions on line for using like a can or jar to wrap it around, but I liked the plans I had because it seemed less likely that the bottom was going to fall out! I might have to make a website with the instructions myself - complete with pictures! Look for it, if I actually do it I'll let you guys know when it's up and running!