Friday, April 6, 2012

Sub-Urban Gardening

Mum and I picked up the plants for the vegetable & herb garden in the backyard today. We got a few seeds, but mostly starter plants. This year with the moving and everything we got a late start, and don't have the space or time to be dealing with seeds right now.

For the basis of this entry, let's just assume that everything is neglected and overgrown, shall we?
As it stands, we have an old mint garden in the back corner (away from everything else) that may or may not crop back up. Possible volunteers will be spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, and pineapple mint. But Mum hasn't tended to it for years, really since it got planted 9 years ago, so we may need to go back out to pick up some mint plants, as we would like to keep that as a mint corner. The catnip we just picked up will be going back there.

We have two raised bed planters about 3x4 feet each which are currently housing a HUGE, delicious looking oregano bush (well, three of them actually). I mean, one of these is easily twice as big as my head and the second one is half again as big. The other is only about as big of a curve as I can make with two hands, still big but relatively small. In the center of one raised bed we have garlic, with lots of scapes getting ready for harvest. Surrounding it is the two big oregano bushes, plus a HUGE dead mess of sticks that looks like it was some sort of vine at some point. And I just realized it's probably old garlic scapes from 7 years of not being harvested. Hmmm... now I wonder what that garlic is going to look like. In one corner of that bed is a small bunch of chives struggling to hold on, but Mum assures me they will fill in fairly soon. I think I'm going to transplant them into a planter, actually.

The other raised bed has the tiny oregano bush and two dead tomato plants. Next to its long side there are two shepherd's hooks with an old broom handle hung between them as a place for those hanging tomato planters that go upside down, but it's so low to the ground that it defeats the purpose. The sugar snap peas we got say they don't NEED support, but I may give them support anyway because my old sugar snap peas did much better when they had something to climb.

We have one BIG 18 inch square planter that is also full of garlic, four 12 inch squares, and eight 12 inch round hanging baskets, not all of which have hangers and two of which are those egg-carton-type material that will probably have the bottom fall out as soon as we pick them up because they've been sitting on the edge of the concrete deck for, Mum says, at least 5 years (and did I mention the Pacific Northwest is a little damp?). Still, looks like compost material to me! Other than that big one, none of these little planters have any viable plants in them, though one looks like it might be trying to grow some white border-plant flowers which we may or may not decide to keep. Also worth noting is that I have three more upside-down planters, and the long wall of the house has a 2x2 board hung at the edge of the overhang specifically for screwing in hooks for hanging planters.

That's all we have in the way of space for the vegetable garden, the rest of the current garden-space is reserved for flowers and bushes that already exist. We have permission to build more raised beds, but for this year we're going to stick with what we have, and make plans for next year over the winter.

So what are we planting in all this space?
Herbs: Greek oregano (because I didn't realize how much we had!--but I don't think we had Greek anyway), dill, three kinds of sage (pineapple, green, and striped), marjoram, two kinds of thyme (lemon and english), french lavender, rosemary, cilantro, basil, parsley, more garlic (again, didn't realize how much we had), catnip, and probably more I have forgotten.
Fruits: Strawberries and Blueberries!
Veggies: Soybeans, cucumbers (from seeds), snap peas, tomatoes (cherokee purple starting from seeds, nasturtiums (which I count as food as I'm growing for salads, also from seeds), and we need to pick up tomato plants and pepper plants.
Gnome: Somewhere, we are putting a gnome who is lying down reading a book. He was just too cute to pass up!

The Cost:
Mum bought the blueberry plants and the gnome (and a bunch of flowers for her garden out front), but the rest only cost $50! I would have spent that much on buying the same quantity of all these herbs fresh from the produce department, and they would have already been cut and one-time-use. I figure, even if I only use the equivalent of one package of fresh herbs out of these plants, I've at least broken even. Anything else is a fruit of my labor.

The Plan:
Tomorrow is sunny all day, but then it rains for at least the next 9 days. Even though that rain is usually little more than a mist, still not FUN to work in. Mr. Moon and I are going to have to get up bright and early to dig out the dead plants from the raised beds, till in some garden dirt Pops bought over the winter, cover it with a few layers of newspaper to help with weeds (I hope?), then a thin layer of dirt and a squirt down with the hose. As one of the raised beds has only one tiny oregano plant in it and we have plenty, since it is also the one with a low level of dirt in it I plan to dump the dirt from ALL the small planters and till in some fresh soil, using that bed as a giant bucket.

If we prep beds tomorrow and plant on Monday (as Sunday is busy with Easter lunch & guests), then after I take Mr. Moon to work Saturday or Sunday I can come home and spend some time with my tiny starter plants, placing them on top of their new spots and moving them around until I like their placements. I'm afraid if I try to get stuff planted tomorrow, I'll end up rushing it and not thinking things through.

I'm pretty excited for an herb and veggie garden! Definitely heavier on the herbs this year, as we expect it to be a busy year catching up on long-term household maintenance and herbs are a lot more low-maintenance. If I don't get to basil before it gets dried up, I won't feel as bad as forgetting a zucchini until it splits!

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Do you have any advice for this garden you'd like to share? Advice on harvesting scapes and evaluating the viability of the garlic?

How is YOUR garden looking for this year? Tell us in the comments!

2 comments:

  1. Be careful with where you plant the dill, it will "volunteer" into any and all surrounding space if you let it!

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    1. Noted! I'm thinking about planting all the plants that like to spread into their own individual pots, since I have so many pots. That way they can spread to their hearts' content without bothering any other plants, and I just have to keep eating anything that tries to volunteer its way out of the pot!

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