Sunday, May 10, 2009


Saturday brought two things which worked well together: good weather and a discount coupon for Highland Gardens. I was hoping all the plants were in stock that we wanted; not so when I checked last week -- and now they were! Red fountain grass and super bells for the big pot in front of the garage; 3 tomato plants, one for the pot on the deck and two for the garden at Zach's; multicolored vincas for the spot behind the barberry bush. The garden is small, as is our space around home, so a little looks like a lot. There were so many onion sets in the bunch they're planted in three different places.
For whimsy, a pack of jack o'lantern pumpkin seeds was planted in a corner bed near Zach's carport, with a bag of compost to speed them on their way. He's always loved pumpkins, and may have a bumper crop of his own this year.
The gates are in on the raised bed garden, but still need work, and the chicken wire needs to be cut and stapled on them and around the three sides. My old spring-action stapler (the young studs and studettes on all the HGTV and DIY Network shows would toss it in the trash where it belongs -- so old school) won't sink a staple in butter, much less yellow pine, so I anticipate that "there will be blood." And smashing them in with a hammer. And smashing a finger or two.
Years ago I had read "Square Foot Gardening," and got inspired by a new edition I borrowed from a friend. The string pattern in the photo above defines the square foot areas that are used instead of rows, but the essential element is not using soil, or even good topsoil, as it is always full of weed seeds, clay and bugs. You instead make a one-time investment buying peat moss, coarse vermiculite, and 5 different types of humus and composted manure, mixing them together 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3. The result should both drain readily and retain moisture (a seeming contradiction), and not support weeds -- and it does. The only fertilizer needed is adding compost when you plant a square again, and watering is done by the spot method, closely around each plant. The fencing keeps our vegetarian animal friends out. No tilling, weeding, or excess watering. Seems to be working so far.
The lilac out back at home is fading, but its romantic perfume still drifts in the open windows. I wish there were room for about 150 petunia plants, but the two pots' worth are a pleasure to see every day. B.B. Bunny gets three flowers a day as a treat -- I guess they are pretty low-calorie.
A front-page feature in Sunday's newspaper announced that gardening is big this year and that Burpee Seeds east of here in Bucks County can't keep up with the demand. Another article states we are now, as a suddenly more sane nation, saving around 4%, compared to minus 2.5% in 2005. I didn't think I'd live to see it, but there has been much pain and some substantial gain as our collective wagon veered off the highway and maybe found a better road. Paper megaprofits, McMansions, feeding the greed vs. fat tomatoes and new savings accounts!
It's the growing season.

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