Posts Tagged With: Gardening

Of Life Events and Gardens

It has been a rather long and rather eventful month here at Transient Ranch (I should explain that I briefly considered calling it Mustang Ranch, but the implications were…less than ideal). People in the hospital, friends and family with relationships ending and beginning, legal issues that demanded our attention and the myriad of everyday things we call “life” all conspired to keep me away from the keyboard, though not from acquiring more projects. Anyway, I’m back and I want to share the progress of one of those ongoing projects with you.

The garden is in, finally, and it doesn’t look, at this point, as if we’re likely to lose anything with the possible exception of the asparagus.

Last year, I did not plant a fall garden, so the beds were a little overgrown when I started work on them for this spring. As you can tell, everything was left in the beds from last year, including the landscaping cloth and stakes for some of last year’s plants. They looked like this:

Needs work

Needs work

After cutting grass and weeds and removing the leftover stuff from last year, it was time to lay down new landscape cloth in the beds and mulch the walkways in between them. You’ll note that except for two smaller beds at the top left hand side of the picture, the beds run the full length of the garden. That makes them 34 feet long.

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Here it is, the walkways almost all mulched and with every bed ready to receive plants and its own mulch.

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Finally done, or close to it (still need to mulch that area to the left side of the garden). Plants in and homemade tomato cages in place.

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In a few days, I’ll go through and weed even the walkways and place the pavers, both for aesthetics and to keep my feet from getting quite so muddy if I have to go out there right after watering or rain.

A few other things. So far, I have placed 2 cubic yards of mulch in the garden and walkways. I estimate another yard will provide the cover I need as I add it to thin spots and “mulch out” a walkway on the left hand side of the garden. This year I purchased a new, state of the art, mulch transportation and delivery device. It’s been very useful.

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The pavers that will go in, shortly.

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Last year we grew, well, a lot varieties of everything, especially tomatoes and cucumbers. We discovered that as much as we like Italian food, we can’t grow enough Roma tomatoes to make sauce and adding other varieties to the sauce makes it far too wet. When it comes to cucumbers, the non pickling varieties are also too wet. This year, we are being more selective and limiting our varieties. Our plant selection looks like this:

PLANT VARIETIES
  • Black or Russian Krim tomatoes x 9
  • Red Brandywine tomato x1
  • Boston Pickling cucumbers x 8
  • Black Beauty zucchini x 2
  • Crook Neck squash x 2
  • Serrano, jalapeno, ancho/poblano, Anaheim, cayenne and bell peppers x 2 of each
  • Hale’s Best cantaloupe x 2
  • Asparagus x 18
  • Carrots, lettuce varieties, arugula, spinach and kale x a lot of each (we have rabbits, okay?)

Now comes the hard part…waiting for harvest.

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Garden Planning Update…Starter Boxes

WordPress likes me, today, so I was able to upload a couple of pics of the concrete forms I’m re-purposing as starter boxes. With 5 of them, I probably have more than I need, still, it’s nice to know I’ll be able to start everything without having to worry about containers.

5 starter boxes for the garden.

5 starter boxes for the garden.

They’re pretty big. Outside dimensions are 96″ x 16″. Inside, after taking the inner divisions into account, I wind up with about 88″ x 13.5″ of usable space in each one. With 5 boxes, that means I have 5940 sq inches. Wow! The 3/4″ plywood bottoms make them sorta heavy, but that’s okay. They aren’t likely to fall apart any time soon.

Inside a starter box

Inside a starter box

Later today, hopefully, I’ll be buying my seed starting mix and tomorrow the fun begins.

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Garden Planning…WooHoo!*

I like fresh fruits and vegetables. The colors, smells and tastes add so much to a meal that you simply can’t get any other way. Then, of course, there’s the nutritional value. We all need the nutrients that veggies contain along with things like the antioxidant and fiber benefits of some veggies. Good taste and health benefits all rolled into a single package. What’s not to like. There are only two ways of which I’m aware to get fresh fruits and vegetables, buying them from a store or growing them yourself. I much prefer to grow them myself.

When I was a kid, my mom had a garden whenever she could (with all of our moving, it wasn’t always possible). I remember how much she and my dad seemed to delight in making and maintaining the garden and how much more they enjoyed harvesting, preparing and eating what came out of it. Now, you have to understand that as much as my parents loved fresh veggies, I was most emphatically not a convert. I disliked them immensely. Then, one day, I discovered raw vegetables and I was hooked. After that, my parents would eat theirs cooked and I had mine raw. It was several years before I discovered the reason for my preference. It was both simple and sad. I loved my mom. Cooking was simply not her forte’. The one thing you could be sure of when my mom cooked something, anything really, was that it was done. It was well done and had been well done for a while before it was served. Then, one day, I discovered vegetables that were cooked but not overcooked. Vegetables that were properly seasoned. Wow! What a difference!

Several years ago, I began planting my own vegetable gardens. Then, for a few years, I stopped. Life was really busy and something had to give. Gardening was one of the things I let go. Two years ago, I started again. The veggies are nice. Like I said, I like eating them. More than that, though, I like the experience of planning a garden. Prepping and amending the soil. Planting. Weeding (okay, not so much with the weeding). Watering. And, of course, harvesting and eating. Add to that the fulfillment I get from canning the excess. It’s a special kind of gratifying to eat something, knowing it’s not only tasty, but healthy and that you grew it yourself. And, if done properly, it’s much less expensive than buying your vegetables from the store. I guess you could say I find gardening rewarding (reasonably priced food), relaxing (you can’t really hurry the natural life cycle of a tomato) and very fulfilling (I grew this).

When I was a kid, everyone I knew planted their gardens the same way – in long rows spaced about 18″-24″ apart. Last year, for the very first time ever, I put in raised beds with my own version of square foot gardening. I don’t know that I will ever grow a garden any other way, ever again. This weekend, hopefully, I’ll start my seeds in some wooden boxes I’ve re-purposed. Originally, they were concrete forms used by a neighbor, but this year they’ll be dedicated to a nobler purpose (I had planned to post pics of the boxes but can’t upload them right now. I’ll try later.)

If you like fresh vegetables, if you’re looking for a rewarding way to relax, why not plant a garden?

* Originally, I had planned on using the word “w00t” but I’ve been asked to stop embracing my inner nerd.

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