Sunday, April 15, 2012

Garden Spring

They're calling this Occupy Spring. I think it's sort of ridiculous, and kind of an insult to Arab Spring, which really was revolutionary. I suppose the verdict is still out. And I suppose the verdict is still out on my spring, which, after all, is only about 10 games in. But a couple of weeks ago I decided that the end of my Winter of Hell was going to end on April 1, and it seems to have really done so, for the most part (there are still some odds and ends to wrap up). I think January 1st is arbitrary, so this year, New Years is April first. The A's have won more games than I thought they would win all month- granted, it's only about four, and the Phillies have lost more than I thought they would all month- granted, it's also only about four, but the most exciting thing that has happened is my garden.  I am supposed to keep a journal of the things that happen here, and since I've almost lost the ability to do this, I've decided to put it here, for now. Plus, I can sit out here, in one of my four garden chairs, on one of my two decks, looking at my almost assembled swing, with my laptop, drinking beer, and be reminded of what I'm talking about. So here we go: the first annoying garden blog on themacinator. I hate these blogs, I really do. Crappy pictures, annoying "I put these seeds here," "I dug that dirt there," posts. So skip it, really.

the sun came out
The thing to know about this yard is that a) it's giant, and b) it's extremely established. I guess there's a third thing: it's really really fertile. It seems like everything grows here, which gives me hope that I won't kill everything. My yard is bigger than my old house, I'm pretty sure. On March 30th, the Landlord and Master Gardener (I think he really is a master gardener) gave me a whirlwind lesson about the garden.  We set up a "doggy jail" that would be Mac's potty area, so that he wouldn't pee Jailand poop on everything, because he actually could kill everything, and quite quickly. There was a lot to learn, and in approximately 2 weeks, I think I've forgotten approximately 7/8 of it, even with notes like this. photo.JPG I ended up checking out an amazing book from the library (unfortunately out of print), "Sunset Western Garden Problem Solver," from the library that has amazing full color pictures of weeds. I've still managed to pull out half of my mache that has gone to seed and a whole bunch of things that I thought were grass but were some other kind of plant to be named later.

During my tour, the landlord taught me basic things that I have never done, and identified some plants for me. He taught me how to deadhead various plants, how much and where to water my lemon and orange tree, that I would need to replant the raised beds or that they wouldn't just grow again (right?), to add new soil to them since they were depleted, to add addendums to certain other soils since they were depleted, etc. He told me that some of the plants in the yard- the tomatillo and other plants that I can't remember- were volunteers. He told me I was welcome to kill the Camellia bush but that I probably wouldn't be able to. He directed me to someone who would sell me good, healthy plants. And I was off to the races.

I have spent time in the garden every day since then. Well, except for the many many days since then that it has been raining. Which has been good for my yard, and especially good for the weeds, and the plants that I've been pulling thinking that they are weeds. Rest in peace, plants that are not weeds but are now in the green waste (I've learned that you can't compost weeds or you replant them when you put down the compost.) When I moved in, I started eating everything that was growing. Most of the plants I thought were chard were actually beets. Beet greens are really good. Since I didn't know that they were beets, the beets had gone starchy by the times that my landlord came and told me what they were. So I'm continuing to let the beets grow until they go to seed so that they will replant and give us more beets and beet greens. Who eats beets, really? We have bumper crops of escarole Escarole that we can't eat or get rid of fast enough. They are literally all over the yard. We also had celery growing that I didn't know about in one of our raised beds, and I let it go to seed and pulled it yesterday. photo.JPGLast week I cleaned raised beds one and six which were full of chard and beets and who knows what else (I should have written it down) and filled them with new dirt, and then planted two kinds of determinate tomatoes- the kind that don't grow forever and ever and take over your yard. My next door neighbor, who also seems to be some kind of professional, gave us red plastic sheeting and these fancy water bottles with conical devices on the bottom that drip the water down to the roots. The sheeting keeps the tomatoes warm and the bottles have gravel in them to make the water drip slowly. My proudest moment so far was seeing that my tomatoes now have tiny little flowers on them! This means that not only have I not killed them, but they might actually be growing!

photo.JPGMy other proud moment so far was when I finally finished hand weeding the majority of a large, oddly shaped plot in the yard. A normal person would have dug or hoed the whole thing, but I am not a normal person.  There were some tiny little flowers- johnny-jump-ups- that I wanted to save. So I painstakingly pulled up all of the weeds (and some of the non-weeds) and dying miner's lettuce, and worked around the tiny tiny johnny-jump-ups, then added addendums and painstakingly hoed it in without killing the johnny jumpup's. Oh yes, I did.  photo.JPG Yesterday I planted two rows of carrots at C's request, and today decided to plant some marigolds because you can't eat everything, you know.  You can, however, eat beans, and yesterday C spent hours carefully taking down a very strange wooden structure that the landlord had built on a beautiful 6x4 plot near the rear of the yard. Then she built tee-pees out of bamboo and we planted a couple kinds of beans. I almost cried today because one of the leaves of one of them was eaten by something. (This was actually the reason for the marigolds- C thought they were supposed to be smelly enough to keep bugs away, but the guy at the nursery told me this is a myth- there's only one kind that smelly, and they don't carry them, or they don't grow now or something, and I love marigolds so much that I was already gonna buy them.) I was disappointed with the beans when we pulled them out of the carton yesterday- their roots seemed both too spindly on some and too pot-bound on others (told you this was gonna be one of these posts), but as my neighbor says, this is all a science experiment.

photo.JPGMy back-fence neighbor introduced herself yesterday while we were out- she also is gardening. It's her third year back there and she's planting vegetables only in a little victory-garden style. She gave us chives and offered mint and lemons and we gave her oranges (which we have a billion of) and beet greens and tarragon (also in surplus). The poppies are still going crazy, as are the purple things that I think are aluminium. The wisteria seems to be about half way done- we have it front and back- and the little mini roses on the tree are crazy pretty. Our rose bushes are just starting to come in, and the bird of paradise is doing it's thing. The camellias are nuts, and I don't think I can keep up with the trash they spill, let alone try to kill them. Soon I have to trim the trumpet vine, as it is taking over also. And now to weed between the bricks- my daily task. Oh, and finish this beer.


mamagotcha said...

Magnificent! I'm looking forward to seeing what else you do with this space... and I'm a little gobsmacked that it even exists in the area I think you live in.