On Friday and then again this morning, I was able to get out into the yard for a solid chunk of time and do some gardening! I really enjoy gardening – I find it very relaxing (even though often it’s a lot of work), centering, and just enjoyable. My husband came out and saw me working in the yard, and he said he loved seeing me outside. I asked why, and he said that I seem very happy then, and it’s true – I’m not walking around with a big smile on my face, but it’s more like an inner enjoyment that I guess is reflected out.
Last week I did my monthly shopping and succumbed to purchasing some vegetable starts for planting – even though the price was fairly good, I have plenty of seeds already so I considered this a splurge. But I used part of my grocery budget for the plants, figuring that it fits best into that category since I’m buying them with the intent to grow food.
Right now I have a variety of tomatoes – 6 Early Girl, 6 grape tomatoes, 4 yellow tomatoes, 2 roma, 1 beefsteak, 4 cherry, and I’ve started seeds for three (four?) more heirloom varieties. I have seeds for two more varieties, and I saw the first volunteer tomato plant (ie coming up on its own from tomatoes that fell on the ground last year), and am expecting a LOT more – last year I had about 50 volunteers. They were seriously like weeds, except that I was happy to have them! I have several kinds of peppers that I already mentioned putting in, and seeds for another couple of kinds that I want to try.
I planted 8 green beans in a couple of pots on the front porch (4 in each); they had each had a tropical plant that I left outside over the winter, and all that’s left of them are the sturdy stems. I thought it would be a good use of the space to plant the green beans around them so they can grow up the stems. I also planted five green bean plants into the yard, and started another packet of seeds – yardlong asparagus beans. I guess that was about 40 seeds so hopefully a good number of them will sprout. I have to look at the dried beans I have in the house and see what else I want to plant – did you know that you can just use any dried beans for planting? Pretty cheap to do it like that – instead of paying $1 -2 for a small packet of seeds, you can get a pound for under a dollar.
Thanks to the inspiration of my littles (opening my seed packets and getting them wet while I was transplanting), I decided to plant the package of purple carrots and really need to do the solar yellow carrots since they opened that as well, but haven’t yet – at least those aren’t wet. Generally I don’t think carrots are worth the effort because they’re so inexpensive, but I got three types that looked interesting, so it’s worth it to me for the novelty (the third type is called Parisian Market carrots, like small round balls).
I casually planted basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, thyme, lettuce leaf basil, and garlic chives along the front walkway. Casually planted means that I loosened the soil, then sprinkled the seeds in a haphazard way and stirred a little dirt around. I’m not the most systematic gardener in the world when it comes to tiny seeds! It will be interesting to see what will come up. I figured that herbs look attractive and are almost all perennials, so they’ll grow back year after year and will be a nice addition to the front yard walkway next to some other perennials (non-edible) that I planted last month, instead of taking up space in the raised garden beds. I have a few other herbs still waiting to be planted – Forest Green parsley (the curly kind), marjoram, Greek oregano, cinnamon basil, sage, Italian large leaf basil, Finocchio fennel, and catnip (to make my cat happy).
Ds2 planted the remaining lavender plant I bought last month – it’s not really quite enjoyable yet planting with him, since he throws the plants in the holes, or manages to lose all the dirt around the roots before it gets into the hole. When gardening with my littles, I have to remember to shift gears from getting something done to making it fun for them, and putting my energy into helping them learn what to do. When I do, we all enjoy it; otherwise, they feel like a nuisance!
I also planted 7 gold zucchini, 7 regular zucchini, 8 delicata squash, 7 watermelon (the big red ones), 4 small yellow watermelon, 7 spaghetti squash. I have seeds for yellow summer squash that I plan to plant soon, in the next few days, and a few other winter squash – butternut, Gold Nugget, and Sweet Meat. Squash are easy because the seeds are big and you can plant them directly into your yard. Also I moved a bunch of squash seeds that sprouted in the compost – not sure what kind they are, but I’ll see when they fruit!
While I was in the garden I met a neighbor who lives across the alley when her dog escaped into my house! She’s been living here for three years and I’ve been here for four but you don’t really see neighbors across the alley much except at a distance. She just started a garden and we got to talking about lots of interesting things – she also had a pet box turtle that she brought out for the kids to watch while we were talking, and we had the three ducklings in the back yard while we were working there that she asked about and held. I offered her some volunteer squash starts with the caveat that I didn’t know what kind they were, and she was happy to take some for her yard – she got about ten, I guess.
Oh, and I can’t forget about the cucumbers; I planted maybe 7 of those, too. I have three more kinds that I want to plant from seed (Armenian cucumbers, Tendergreen, and Sumter), plus one kind that I started in mini pots that I’ll transplant when they’re ready – I think they’re called Meditteranean. I like those best – they’re the very thin skinned ones that are crisp and delicious, with very small seeds.
The ducklings are being kept inside in a large plastic container covered with straw that we change daily. I’m putting the straw around the plants that are in the garden, to discourage weeks. We try to take them outside when we go out – I think everyone and everything is happier outside! We have a grating that goes around a grill but we’ve never used it for that – it’s like a metal screening about two feet high connected all around. We put the ducks and their water dish inside that on top of some grass, and then cover the top with a piece of metal screening left over from my composter (I saved it when I took the rest of it to the dump when it rusted through). They’re very happy there and protected from prowling cats; I put them on a different patch each time we go out, though they’re so tiny it’s not like they eat up all the grass around them.
If you’re wondering where in the world I’m going to plant all of this in my not so big yard, the answer is that I’m planning to grow things vertically rather than taking up space on the ground to maximize the yield. Gardening is an enjoyable hobby and part of the fun is that it’s so productive!