Archive for May 2009

May 13th, 2009

Sow Far Sow Good

It’s been an exciting three weeks, garden-wise.

For my birthday, back in April, Kate and Kevin designed and constructed some modular fencing panels that could surround my garden. These will keep out the rabbits, sure, though there’s a certain other potential garden pest that I was far more concerned about.

So I brought the fence to my house and installed it. Then the seeds I ordered finally came trickling in — some from certified-organic-only vendor Seeds of Change and some from the “emergency order” I put in with Gurney’s, avid gardener/Steph’s brother James’ preferred source.

We got the precious pellets in the ground two Sundays ago, following the packet directions for spacing and planting depth as closely as possible in the context of a garden plot that was plenty big enough for our plans but magically shrank with every indention we made in the dirt . (I’m sure, in true beginner fashion, we did some things exactly according to the package when we could have fudged and gotten more into a bed, and likewise, I’m sure we got creative with the placement when we should have gone by the book. The way we planted the corn, for example, is now causing me to wake up in the cold sweats in the middle of the night. More than anything else we put in, I want the corn to work out. Corn, of course, is delicious. But also, it’s a real rarity among home-growers — I don’t know anyone who even attempts it. I believe we can make it happen. We’ve got a spacious yard. We’ve got the direct sun. Where we may have screwed it all up is only putting in two rows of it. In the directions it states “plant at least four rows to ensure wind pollination.” But the corn seeds were the last we planted and there was only enough cultivated soil left to squeeze two in. So I guess we invented something of a problem for ourselves there, though I could probably spend upwards of 40 hours dancing around my corn with a box fan and consider it all time well spent.)

The main reason things got so tight in the beds is they are running all kinds of deals on starter plants at the farmer’s market. We went with intention of picking up six tomato plants, six green pepper plants, and six jalapeño plants, precisely. At the booth we settled on, however, you could get a whole tray, which holds twice as many plants, for like a dollar more than the cost of three six packs! I was helpless before the mighty power of this bargain. I was in awe, even as we were making runs to Target, scrounging the aisles for mixing bowls or sand castle buckets or anything you could fill with dirt and stick a plant in. (Ever try finding nine terra cotta flower pots smack-dab in the middle of spring? Good luck with that.) Yes, we ended up with twice the number of tomatoes and peppers we had originally desired. About half of the extra plants will be living in makeshift pots, long-term, the rest we just had to put in the garden.

Second gardening lesson learned the hard way? It’s easy to get carried away.

Oh, and nearly every seed we put in the ground is now sprouting. The pole beans and lima beans have been the real champions, coming up fast and strong, while all but one of the the cucumber plants simply refuse to show. The corn and squash are somewhere in the middle; they’re up, but each is just a tiny sprig. Pictures!

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