Monday, March 26, 2012

The garden March-es on...

 Just a couple of months ago I was breaking my back getting all my garden beds prepped for Gardening Version 2012 and I am excited to report that now in March – I am still breaking my back getting all my garden beds prepped for this year.
Don't get me wrong. There has been some progress. I went from having a mere four completely redone 3ft by 6ft ceder fence garden beds with their 22 inch pathways on all sides to now ten. I transformed the center garden from three east/west facing rows into two north/south facing rows and additionally created an extensive rock pathway within this bed area. I completely remodeled the grapefruit bed from a single massive horseshoe shaped bed into three manageable beds. I also have planted most of these beds and have harvesting radishes and mustard greens.
Yet even though it seems like I have done a lot there is much, much more that needs to be done. Currently we are installing a watering system that will allow us to have drip hoses in every one of the ceder fence garden beds. Now I know when you just read that it did not have the impact on you that it has on me. Just seeing the words 'watering system' much less 'drip hoses' makes my heart beat faster.
Perhaps I should explain. Last year, what with the relentless drought and 100 plus degree temperatures I would spend somewhere around an hour and a half every morning just watering my garden. An hour an a half I could have been oh, I don't know, maybe sleeping or weeding the garden or harvesting the massive amounts of produce or performing basic hygiene. As it was I spend an hour and a half just watering and then pretended I didn't see the weeds, snatched the fruit and vegetables off the plants and did the bare minimum hygiene stuff necessary to make sure people were not offended by my presence.
I have a dream and it goes like this. I get up at a reasonable hour, saunter out to my garden where I turn on my 'watering system' which starts all my 'drip hoses' and then I leisurely weed the garden, pick the abundant produce from the thriving plants and luxuriate in a long hot shower before I casually look over my water bill and laugh because it is so low. I like the virtual watering system very much. It almost seems a shame that we have to actually install it because that is sure to put some wrench into the works in some annoying way that we can't foresee because you just don't know what you don't know. But I have tonight before we turn it on for the first time, so I am still living the dream.
I thought I would provide an introduction to each of the beds to have as a reference for later in the year. These first group of garden beds are in the ceder fence area that is protected by the dog-proof fence.

Ceder fence garden bed number 1 - "Herbie"
This bed is only partially planted because many the wonderful seeds I lovingly pressed into the soil refused to sprout. Currently it is home to cilantro, a mixture of salad greens, fennel, basil, and curled parsley.

Bed number 2 - "Leeky Creole"
At the north end of this bed is one of the Creole tomatoes we are trying this year. Supposedly this tomato will set fruit in hot humid weather. The rest of this bed is filled with yellow onions, leeks and garlic.

Bed number 3 - "Big Boy"
The north end of this bed has a Big Boy tomato plant. I consider all of the tomatoes in competition with each other, so we will see how this guy stacks up to the other contenders. I should mention that I am trying a new tomato restraint system this year since last years 'lash the tomatoes with string between several bamboo poles' was a horrible, horrible idea. This year I am using a C shaped cage of dog fence which I will increase in height as the tomatoes get larger. Perhaps this will be the year I will find my tomato caging solution. This bed also has a couple of cabbages and two different sweet peppers, a Gypsy and a Sweet Banana. There is also an extra cucumber plant snuggled in next to the tomato cage.  The pots along the side of this bed are several fig trees we sprouted last year.  They are awaiting distribution to their new homes.

Bed number 4 - "Bunny the Quick"
This bed is almost identical to bed three except that is houses the tomato “BN444” – some sort of determinate hybrid. I like this tomato since it has won the 'first to set fruit' award. I like it so much that from now on I am giving it a proper name to replace it uninspiring clone sounding name. I will call it Bunny the Quick from now on. The south side of this bed has cabbages, sweet peppers and another orphan cucumber plant.

Bed number 5 - "Cornie Creole"
Okay, again this is a tomato at the north and cabbages, sweet peppers and orphan cucumber at the south, but this tomato is another Creole and these sweet peppers are a Corno de Toro and a mild Tam Jalepeno.   

Bed number 6 - "Burpless"
This bed still needs its trellis to support the hybrid burpless cucumbers it is holding. This type of cucumber is a miraculous beast that just laughs at powdery mildew that kills off all the other cucumber types I have tried. It also is a workhorse in production and soon, very soon I will be asking myself just why I planted so many of these plants. The cucumber orphans are of this variety which means that very soon we will be discovering just how many cucumbers we can consume in a single day without ill effect.

Bed number 7 - "UnYuns"
This was the first bed I planted and if you looked at my earlier gardening post from January you will see the onions have valiantly rebounded from their ravishing by the opposums. The onions to the west of this bed are yellow and the east side are red. The center of this bed are scallions and at the very back are garlic plants.

Bed number 8 - "It's not easy being greens"
This bed is hosting collard greens, turnips, mustard greens and until recently, radishes. It is also being plagued by snails and caterpillars which are making lace of the leaves. Soon though I will find my organic slug and snail bait and my caterpillar BT powder and this bed will feel much better.

Bed number 9 - "Butternut"
These guys are butternut squash and if they do what their family members did during the fall garden then we will have a whole bunch of very large squash on plants that will try to overrun the entire ceder garden area.

Bed number 10 - "Pickles"
Here are some more cucumbers, but these are pickling cucumbers. I actually purchased these before I was able to find my burpless hybrids. They are supposed to be hardier than other types of cucumbers, but they will have to prove themselves.  Regarding as to why this bed looks like it is out of the Flintstones cartoon.  I found myself with an abundance of energy and a lack of correctly cut lumber.  We have a whole bunch of rocks we have collected and I decided to use them as a temporary holding wall to shape the bed.   

The great beyond...

This is a picture of what is yet to come. It may look like a bunch of dirt and rocks, but this is proto-garden. This will become four more beds in the not too distant future, baring early excessive hot weather, my body  giving out, or me actually coming to my senses. The plan is that this area will be for the wildly vining things like cantaloupe and watermelons.
Stay tuned...

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