Sunday, June 02, 2013

State of the Garden: June 1st

Let's see if I even remember how to use this thing. . .

Well, we made it through a looooooonnnnnnnngggggg, cold winter.  I can't place enough emphasize the word long.

Many people around here, made crabby by the long winter, are now grousing for a variety of reasons: that we made it through only to arrive in an eternal spring (it's a blustery 47 degrees at 7 am this morning) or that we skipped spring and went straight to summer on those hot days that we hit the mid-80s.

I don't grouse.  In my mind, there are two seasons:  winter, and growing season.

I don't care what the temp is or where it should be compared to what it is.  If I can put plants into the ground and those plants will then grow, it's growing season, and my heart is content.

This year, the Mister built 2 new garden beds for me, bringing the grand total of raised beds to 6.  Additionally, I have a 3-plot raspberry bed in the side garden (it started as 1-plot when we bought the house, and I love raspberries way too much to stop their spreading), a 1-plot pumpkin/potato patch, and then a long skinny raised bed running the side yard fence, which opens into a triangular-shaped bed.

Because we simply cannot grow anything over our harsh tundra winters, each spring is a Clean Slate with these garden beds.  Other than keeping basic crop-rotation principles in mind, creativity can reign and I can try different planting concepts and designs in these spaces.

Two years ago, this space was our Potato Patch.  Last year, I had spinach, kale, tomatoes, beets and radishes here.  This year, I constructed two tripods out of sticks we collected in the woods up at Kelly Lake.  Both will have two different varieties of snap peas climbing them, with soy beans growing in the middle of them.  Cantaloup is planted as well as bush pickles.  And in front of the lattice work are several varieties of vining cukes.

Next to this space, I have a perennial garden, whose showcase jewel are Holly Hocks. The long, cold winter decimated my holly hocks.  I am absolutely devastated by this, as since I have moved into this home, a tall magnificent, large group of those gorgeous flowers graced my side yard.   My father grew up on a farm where hollyhocks grew rampantly all around the outhouses, earning them the name "Shit House Flowers."  I loved buying a home with a gorgeous garden of Shit House Flowers, and I would always smile and think of my dad when I would pull into the driveway and saw them, waving gloriously at me over the fence.

I digress, but the long, cold winter didn't hurt my rhubarb at least.  That would have just about done me in.  Because this ain't my Mama's rhubarb, after all, this is my Grandmother's rhubarb.  For real.


Next to the Rhubarb are the lilacs, which were especially magnificent this year, both in sight and smell.

I completely relocated our potato patch to a new spot this year, on the other side of the yard.  This little garden has long hosted tomatoes, salad leaves, beets and beans.  This year I mixed in a ton of compost and rotten leaves, and planted 5 rows of potatoes and a row of pumpkins for a Potato and Pumpkin Patch.  I also am trying my hand at a Potato Tower.  Contained within a wire cage (which we garbage picked along with several dozen other cages years ago. Score! ), I layered dirt, potatoes, straw, dirt, potatoes, straw.  I've always had tremendous success growing potatoes in trenches covered in straw, but I saw these towers all over Pinterest and couldn't resist.  We'll see how it goes.

After a record bumper crop of raspberries, my raspberry patched has thinned considerably after removing the dead canes.  Raspberries grow in a two-year cycle, with new canes producing a meager amount of berries, and second-year canes producing a bounty, then dying.  I had a huge amount of two-year old canes last year, and most of my canes are first year this summer.  

I took the opportunity to use the thinned out space to pull some weeds and remove spreading groundcover, and the Mister and I spread a thick layer of new composted garden mix/dirt over the beds.

Here's a view of the 6 raised beds, all planted and waiting for the bounty to start growing.  My mom gave us the arbor two summers ago, where we had plunked it in the corner of the yard, in front of the compost corner.

I love compost (I'm not being facetious, I truly looooooooovvvvvveeeeee compost), but the arbor was just too pretty and ceremonial to be an entrance to an ol' compost hole.  So, using the highly accurate measuring tool of my arms and hands (meaning I put my hands on each side of the arbor, then keeping them exactly in the same place, walked carefully to my garden beds and compared the space between my hands and the space between garden beds) and realized Voila!  It measures up perfectly!

And seriously, it did.  Look!  It's seriously calibrated, I tell you. (Just don't ask the Mister about the China Cabinet Relocation of 2008, when I attempted to have him move a large, heavy piece of furniture based upon hand measurement.)

Do you see what's peaking in the left rear corner of the above photo?

A shed! An honest-to-goodness, real-life shed.

 Isn't it dreamy? I love, love, LOVE our shed.  Paloma thinks it is fabulous enough to be a bedroom.  I concur.  The Mister and Boppa built a fancy deck for it to rest on thanks to scoring some of that great composite decking at the ReStore, and now I have a potting space as well as a place to store all the stuff clogging up the garage.

A cute, eye-rolling story to end this post:  I have a pot with dirt on the shed decking (for no good reason other than I have nothing to plant in it at the moment.)  So I stuck in a bunch of unused garden stakes into it.

The garden stakes are those designed to look like bamboo shoots (or heck, maybe they are, I have no idea.) 

Atticus was hanging out by me and noticed this planter.  "Cool! You're growing bamboo!" he observed.

Sigh.  I'm just gonna chalk that one up as My Son Thinks I'm Such an Awesome Gardener that I Can Turn Weeds into Bamboo, and not My Son Can't Tell the Difference Between Broken Sticks and a Living Plant , lol.  He's the Mister's kid too, after all ;)


Unknown said...

So entertaining as well as educational. You know so much about gardening, Sarah. But I BEG where are the books? I can't wait to read more of your wonderful writing.

Corey said...

Love, love, love this post! Can't wait to show you my gardens too! xoxo