Sunday, March 22, 2009

Garden

I finally got to make a trip to my semi-local farm Saturday and pick up some greens for the week and plants for my vegetable garden. My garden is always a haphazard affair -- I usually begin with the best intentions, planning it out and working hard for a month or so before getting distracted and forgetting to water/spray/fertilize and everything falls into ruin. Last year, ants ate all my cucumbers and most of my canteloupe, my okra seeds never grew, the landscape company that edges along the back fence severed a couple of my black-eyed pea vines and my bell peppers all succumbed to fungus. But my tomato plants rallied and produced well into November, and I did manage one delicious canteloupe and quite a few sweet green peppers. My basil flourished, and my rosemary and sage are still going strong.



This year, I'm vowing to do better, but it's still rather experimental. Last week, I dug up the remnants of last summer's garden, and raked in compost from my compost pile. I found green beans still on the dead vines, so I'm soaking them today and will plant them tomorrow.



The place I bought my plants yesterday only had tomato, bell pepper and squash, so I bought 3 tomato, 2 pepper and 1 squash (I don't even really like squash that much). Those should work out ok -- I staked my bell pepper plants and put cardboard cuffs around the stems to protect them from bugs, which is a lesson I learned too late last summer.



I didn't do anything different to my tomato plants -- just plucked all but the top leaves and planted them sideways in a deep trench for stronger roots like my grandmother taught me.



I'm starting the okra, green beans and black-eyed peas in a cardboard egg carton instead of straight in the ground to see if I get seedlings this time. I've already mixed up a batch of neem py to keep the ants at bay, and have a bottle of garrett juice ready for fertilizing.



I've been using a great book, You Grow, Girl! by Gayla Trail as my guide. That's where I learned to make a simple root irrigation system out of old soda bottles and how to battle pests without chemicals. Trail's book includes recipes for insecticides and fertilizers, as well as bath products, tea and freezing and preserving tips for your veggies. The book is great for all sizes of garden, from an apartment fire escape container garden to a large backyard garden, and it's perfect for gardeners who prefer DIY to buying premade.



You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening by Gayla Trail.
Simon & Schuster, New York: 2005
208 p.; col. ill., photos.

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