Archive for September, 2009

fall gardening

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

I was raised gardening. We always had a huge garden when i was growing up. enough to feed our large family, give to friends, and preserve for the winter. My mom always put away 100 pints of corn and 100 quarts of tomatoes. she started with juice and then realized whole tomatoes were easier and just as useful. She also did pickles and freezer jams and green beans and often other things as well but we always had a lot of corn and tomatoes.

My dad drove truck so it varied on when the garden got put in. We always put it in in a couple of days and everyone pitched in. I remember putting in the corn, because those seeds were big for the grasping of little hands. I remember being told not to touch my face and wash my hands and for gods sake don’t eat the little corn, the pink stuff on them is poison.  Then dad would leave for the road and all the maintenance fell on us kids. Usually we would ignore it until word came that he was coming back and then we would desultorily do some weeding but we would never get through the endless rows of corn and tomatoes and would get hollered at for being the lazy goodfornothings we were. i swore when i had my own garden i would never grow corn and tomatoes.

the big thing i got out of it was the rhythm of the conventional garden. Till in the spring, anytime after May 15 and plant it all in a couple of days at most. weed all summer, harvest in the fall. Maybe if loads permit put in another batch of corn 2 weeks after the first.

Now its different. i plant pretty much year around. i love the idea of fall crops. the little lettuces and arugula are coming along nicely. I hope to get in some spinach yet. two of the three garlic i planted have already come up and i plan on putting in another head or two yet. I still hope to turn over a full 120 square foot bed and build a little stone wall (out of all the rocks and stones i’ve turned up) around it. saturday i hope to pick up a 1/4 scoop of sand (about 800 #s). I want to add about 300 in the horseshoe pits and the other 5 in the rest of the garden bed.

After the leaves fall on the bush honey locust i am going to cut that down and haul it to the mulch pile. i am going to pull some of the ivies and other crap plants and put in some native wildflower mixes, showy goldenrod and a native clover. I am also going to add a row of paw paw trees across the back of my little wildflower bed. I may lay out a path through the new beds with the trunks of the honey locust. While i’m cutting i’m going to cut back on the mimosa branches from the neighbor’s tree that hang over and hopefully bring a little more light.

And of course spring bulbs, perhaps another mum, and maybe some other fall plants will go in. Fall is as jam packed with planting as spring and they are coming together in my mind, even as i put my carrot bed to sleep. i harvested them last week, piss poor i must say, but i’ll let you know how they taste. i covered that bed with leaves, raked just for that purpose, and will cover that with coffee grounds as soon as my grounds container gets filled up. theres a pot of a delicious triple certified blend from kaldis getting ready to go in the mix right now. closing loops and completing the circle. things are still pretty messed up but some things at least are heading back again in the right direction.

Categories: childhood, gardening

the fall bed is in

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

John has been visiting and so i took a four day weekend and we have been doing just a lot of hanging out. Since i’m not smoking i haven’t just wanted to sit around so i’ve gotten a fair amount of gardening done. I turned over about 10 square feet in the start of a third bed north of my other two. Dad thinks the light will be better than the other two beds this time of year or i would have pieced in the stuff i wanted to plant in the other two beds.

I double dug them and only shoveled in about an inch of hummus and an inch and a half of compost. Smokey, John’s Aussie Cattle Dog, was pretty into rooting into and eating of the compost so i guess its not quite finished but looked pretty good to me (earthy smell and except for 1/2 a cob and some egg shell fragments can’t tell what it is). I put all the stuff in the bottom foot and would’ve put in another inch or two of compost in the top as well but with the dog taking an interest i didn’t want to give it any more reason to dig in the bed.

I planted my broccoli and cabbage starts. They’re pretty little but its getting late in the year. I also planted 3 garlics from my second best head and 4 one foot rows of lettuce, arugula, and mescalin. this morning i looked out the back bedroom window and the little broccolis were looking very brave standing in their two little rows backed by giant squash blossoms and a marigold explosion. this late summer has been incredible.

I’m glad i’ve gotten everything in.  Time and weather permitting i would like to get in some day lilies or another mum or any discounted perennial i come across. I’m also planning on trimming out the fence row since a big branch came down in the front yard and i need to make a trip to the mulch site anyways.

Categories: gardening, Uncategorized

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Summer seems to be winding down and it never even really got going. We got a nice soaking rain which we needed but I also need to turn over a new bed and get some fall stuff in. I’m most eager to get in some garlic before I eat it all. I didn’t get a whole lot out of what I planted and ate the nicest head but the second nicest I still have and want to plant that. I got more than I thought I was going to from the way almost all the surviving plants struggled, but still not that much. I’m going to add a lot more to the soil this time, maybe 3 inches of hummus and 6 inches of compost. See what that does. I also have 6 surviving cabbage plants to put in but I decided to give them another week at least to get bigger and hardier even though it’s getting late. I saw day lilies at the market and wanted one, but I didn’t drive and they wouldn’t fit in the trunk. My dollar mum from last year being huge and beautiful is keeping me from paying $7 for one that don’t even have hardy in the name. I want to put in a red one though for the song. I’ll have to check through the poetry and see if its there.

Categories: gardening

The Garden in August

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment

The garden is not what I expected but lovely nonetheless. The only seeds that came up were the carrots. The rabbits mowed them down once but they look like they might do ok. The plants I put in struggled early because of all the rain. My tomatoes have only produced a small amount and my peppers struggled as well. I did get a couple of black bell peppers and the hot banana peppers have done OK. It looks like I’ll get some habaneras as well but they’re not ready yet.


My saving grace was putting in the flat of strawberries by the house. Not only have they done well but I got some great volunteer tomatoes and squash out of my compost. Those tomatoes have produced way more than the ones I planted. I got a couple of really nice pink ones that seem like an heirloom variety but the big producer has been a beefsteak looking tomato. The squash vines have been huge and spilled across large chunks of yard. They’ve produced some small butternuts and one good looking pumpkin. More are developing and I think I should do all right on the butternut front. In the heart of summer the vines were growing a foot a day and they were putting up all these great looking huge yellow flowers. I think with all the rain there were a lot that didn’t get fertilized and I had some kind of cutworm thing going that cut off a lot of blooms. They would have been worth it had they not produced anything though the flowers are so pretty in the morning.


Yesterday I made compost tea and fed my struggling starts. My compost continues to do well. I’ve got my 2nd batch ready to go and it looks really good. I also started cultivating the swiss chard. It is pretty heat tolerant so I put it in in July and it is doing well. Well lo and behold I came across this really great looking praying mantis. I had seen a little one in the spring down the bed on a volunteer tomato and I like to think this one had grown up in my garden. I took some pictures, don’t know if they came out.


So the beds by the house did great. I also tried a bed up by the privacy fence on the high part. Instead of too much water like the low beds I have too little water. I may get a sun flower or two to bloom, but no summer squash, and even the native plants are struggling up there. The soil is weird very light and airy but dries like cement. I tried mulching which I think helped but was too little too late.


I planted a lot of native stuff with decidedly mixed results. Deer came and ate my Paw Paw trees. I put in two on the shady side of the house in front of the fence. They came back post-deer until I had a brain fart and mowed them down. One came back and Harry mowed it down the first time he mowed. So no paw paws. On the plus side my persimmon that got bug eaten down to stems and then mauled down to a stump by dogs shot a branch that is growing straight up and might survive after all. So who knows maybe the paw paw is of the lazarus variety as well.


I planted black berries and one black raspberry along the back fence. One plant got buggy, bad aphids maybe. I squirted it off real hard with the hose and that took care of it. I also spruced up the shady garden bed but a lot of that stuff just got overrun or lost. The brown eyed suzans did great this year, plus some lilies that were here before me, and some other stuff bloomed. From the stuff I planted the spiderworts did ok for awhile but just kind of got tangly and droopy.

I planted some coreopsis by my mail box which did just great. Very pretty much of the summer. I have some asters there, I thought they weren’t doing anything but a crossword puzzle clue said asters bloom late so maybe they’ll do something.


The sickly dilapidated mums I got at the hardware store came back in two places. One is huge with pretty yellow flowers. My pink rose bush from last year has done nice this year and the hostas boomed, until the deer ate ‘em. I fertilized, with chemicals (I dumpstered them years ago, what are you gonna do?). I added 2 discount rose bushes late, one put out a pretty rose, I should have clipped it and forced it to grow plant but couldn’t make myself until the bloom started to fade. One rose bush died, I delayed planting them a week because I got busy and weather got spotty. Plant murderer. I also planted a native rose, its itty bitty. Just below the roses I transplanted the lilies an old client in Michigan gave me. She told me to move them every year and they struggle when they’re in the same spot for years. I figure I’ll move them somewhere else and then add more rose bushes where the lilies were.


Henry, my neighbor gave me some forsythia. I put some under the overhang up front and on the shady side. Some I put in the back as part of a row of bushes kind of mirroring my clothesline. I anchored that with a witch hazel, which seems to be doing pretty good. So writing all this makes me feel like I’ve done something. I also pulled a couple of rose of Sharon out of the lilacs I planted below my bedroom window (where they get way to much sun). I planted those by my hidden back gate in the shade of the bush honeysuckle. I confirmed that one is a dangerous nuisance and am going to cut it out this winter. I hope the Rose of Sharon is not the same, but my mom liked them and they hold some nostalgia for me.

Categories: gardening