So, friends will know that we moved from a townhouse to a real house last autumn. This means that for the first time ever, the spring brought with it the opportunity to plant a real garden. For those with townhouses, apartments, condos or whatever -- don't miss the opportunity to grow something! But I'm very grateful to have more land in which to plant. I had originally intended on posting on my progress as I went along, but alas... time got the better of me! So, I'll try and bring you up to speed.
First, I did a little research and decided that OCD-me wanted to have a super-organized and efficient garden. I discovered Mel Bartholomew's method of Square Foot Gardening ("SFG") that he originated in the 1970s. So I bought the book: All New Square Foot Gardening. If your interested in gardening, you should really look into this method. So far, so good.
So with SFG it is recommended that you use raised beds - so I built two 8'x4' beds using 2"x6"x8"s and some handmade 4"x4" for stability and setting into the ground. As you can see, I had a great helper in building the raised beds. The materials for the raised beds were one of the most expensive things about the garden so far, but they can be used year after year. I'm going to look into some other options next year, too -- but I'm not giving up on raised beds. Because it helps with soil quality and makes the plants more accessible. Speaking of soil, it had to come from somewhere. Mel recommends a three-part blend of vermiculite, peat moss and compost. But I wasn't in the mood to hunt for these items in bulk and Lowe's was running an awesome sale on soil. So I stocked up.
Of course, I'd need a little more help moving them. So, I enlisted a friend to relocate the raised bed frames from garage to the yard. With the help of a buddy, they were set and in came the soil. This all occured pre-Kentucky Derby, as did my first plantings. But an ill-timed trip (when did I start considering vacation logistics based on planting cycles?) caused me to get my plants in the ground later than I had hoped.
The Garden - May 19, 2011
A number of the plants were in the ground by May 19. You can see the string that marks off the square-foot areas. Typical row-spacing numbers (plant 12" apart) helps to know that one plant can be located in each square foot; if it says 3" apart, I can fit 16 plants in a square foot (4 rows of 4). Most of the plants above take up a whole square foot (tomatoes, basil, parsley, Greek oregano, rosemary, peppers and egglant), but lettuce can be planted four to a square-foot. You can see that as of May 19, everything looked pretty sparce!
The Garden - May 22, 2011
I planted a zucchini and a squash plant, as well as some cucumbers. From seed, there are green beans, raddishes and carrots. I've never planted anything from seed. Oh, and the frames are for home-made trellises. Extra sturdy, according to Mel, they are made of electrical conduit and rebar (into the ground) as well as some trellis netting that I ordered from amazon. As far as a harvest, obviously nothing yet -- except we had started picking basil so the plants would get to be nice and hardy!
The Garden - June 7, 2011
By June 7, the tomatoes, lettuce and basil had really started to grow. Amazing how quickly things show growth! And, to make me really excited, my beets were already sending up little indicators of growth! The downside: eggplant fleas. This little buggers decimated my eggplant leaves; I tried concocting a homemade garlic-pepper spray per an online recommendation, but it was to no avail. I recently switched to a (gasp!) chemical spray with much success -- the eggplants look like they'll survive! And did I mention: my squash have begun to blossom! Check them out!
The Garden - June 18, 2011
And now check it out!! The tomatoes are doing great and the basil is spectacular! We are planning on doing a huge pesto batch this week -- can't believe I'm saying that in June!! I'm ready to start harvesting some squash and zucchini, and I just saw my first cucumber! The lettuce has been great (I also planted another variety from seed a couple weeks ago -- it has come up and is probably a week from harvest). Of course, all the herbs are great! We've added lavender in the herb department and watermelon in the fruit department. All the pepper plants (jalapeno (3), sweet banana, and bell (orange and red)) have blossomed and I'm waiting on the fruit.
I'm having a lot of fun and it has been a learning experience. For one, squash grows out - not up (so don't plant it next to the trellis -- save that spot for the watermelon which is out of control!! As my sister says, "Happy Eating!"
I've read a number of books since I last wrote here on the blog. I'll try and go back and write about them as time permits. My most recently finished text was 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart. An excellent read, it looked at the commencement of the Civil War from a number of different perspectives like the contraband slaves leaving Hampton, Virginia for Fort Monroe or the college professor-turned general from Ohio whose religious views seemed to defy both tradition and his own new Stone-Campbellian faith. This general would go on to be one of the greatest proponents of equal rights for freed slaves, but his term as President would be cut short after his assassination. James A. Garfield.
Yes, the stories in this well-crafted book are many and provide a nuanced view of how emotions ran in the pivotal year: 1861. Much like in 1776 or 2001, the psyche of America shifted in 1861 and Goodheart does an excellent job setting the stage for this transformative period in American history.
It is interesting that the three shows I posted about at the beginning of the season I no longer watch. Which show is that I don't miss? NBC's Outsourced on Thursday night. Originally a 2006 movie, the show is in its first season on the small screen. At first, I didn't think the show had staying power. Since then, I've become addicted.
Occasionally, the humor is pretty bad TV humor. It is often mildly racist humor that your "Uncle Larry" would tell at Thanksgiving dinner. (To be fair, the writers do Indian jokes of Americans, too.) But there are always a couple big laughs in every episode. The name of the show gives away the premise: an American company's call center is outsourced to India and the call center manager (Todd) is transferred to Kansas City, Missouri to Mumbai to run the show. He has two love interests - the quite randy Australian and the beautiful Asha (who is in the process of selecting her husband for an arranged Indian wedding). The office contains members of different castes which adds to the shows complexity, though in a harmonious way all seem to get along (except for the assistant manager). Really, it is a lot like The Office but with curry and without those "interviews".