Friday, March 19, 2010

Green Dreams

Our early burst of spring weather has gone a long way to lift spirits around here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and little green things are poking up through the soil. For a gardener, this time is sacred. For me, this time is a much needed tonic.

Last fall, before we gathered the leaves for mulch, I planted a few bulbs. Daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, gladiolas... and a few more that have escaped my memory. I am awaiting the results with a mixture of reserved anticipation and wiggly-puppy delight.

My seedlings are behind schedule already; Tuesday I finally sent in my Veseys order. I laid out the vegetable garden on paper a few months back, but with everything that has happened since then I've been unable to work on it until now. This year I'm planning more variety, a more complex layout, higher yields and some special attention to the beautiful details.

2009 was my first year out in the homeowner/gardener category. I tried to grow quite a few different things; some worked, some did not. Some vegetables, such as corn and squash, I planted just so I could say "I grew that". This year's plan is a bit different...

The tomatoes (both beefsteak and cherry/grape) were a big success. I plan to continue that this year, expanding the tomato crop to include both vine and roma tomatoes. With one plant per square foot, this summer's layout will be two beefsteak plants, two vine tomato plants and three roma for sauce/canning. I'm also going to try my hanging baskets again, this time with vine tomatoes that will (hopefully) be less weighty than the beefsteak and allow the plants to develop better. I also read the instructions (harrumph!) this time around and will use the proper soil mix for the hangers. From Veseys, I chose Roma VF and Sweet Cluster to add to my tomatofest. I will also be growing leftover Tiny Tim and Ildi Cherry and Grape tomatoes in planters. Those were fantastic.

Other leftovers that will reappear this year include Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce (3 squares), Fat n' Sassy Peppers (4 squares), Sweetness III carrots (5 squares), Parade onions (2 end pieces and interspersed amongst the larger plants) and Salad Bush Cucumbers (2 squares). All did pretty well for such an awful growing season. I want to try them again in a hot dry summer... which I am convinced this year will be. I've added Stonewall cucumbers (3 squares) which I plan to use in salads and for homemade relish (yum!).

The next purchase was completely on a whim. Red Zepplin onions. Seriously? How could I not?? Those 2 squares will be strategically placed amongst the more tastier greens to keep the bunnies over the hills and far away.

My layout is a bit different this year as well. Since the physical garden is slightly larger than two feet wide, instead of making over sized squares and leaving a lot of (potentially) wasted space, I will instead ring the outside of the 12"x12" squares with a strip a few inches wide. In this space I will plant my aromatic herbs; not only a welcome addition to my kitchen but they will also aid in animal control. On the list this year are cilantro, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and dill.

The rest of the yard will also benefit from my recent splurge. To delight the eye, I've indulged in my weakness for dahlias. For the various pots that I plan to strew about the place, I've chosen Karma "Prospero" and a very unique variety named Edge of Joy. They are both very striking.

Karma "Prospero"

Edge of Joy

I've also ordered some calla lilies. Two varieties, both lovely in their own way. Crystal Blush is a classic white calla with a kiss of pink, while Majestic Red is a rich burgundy which will add a lovely splash of colour for the years to come.

To finish the order (ostensibly to get my $25 discount, but also to add some colour to my front garden) I purchased some Begonias. Lovely, ruffly, shade loving and (supposedly!) dirt-simple to grow begonias. Of course, I chose red from the Non-Stop variety.

Non-Stop Begonias

I won't forget some old friends either... Once the bulbs have bloomed and I am working the soil, you'll find me flitting about the yard sprinkling lobelia, nicotiana, mirabilis, sunflower and morning glory seeds into any bare spots. Sometimes the best results are totally unplanned.

We will see what happens this summer, but it will prove an interesting journey. With a little bit of luck and some half decent weather, it should create the oasis of calm that it is intended to be, while providing some much needed nourishment for the soul.

"Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated, inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be. Nobody talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora." ~Ketzel Levine's

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