Monday, June 01, 2009

Garden of Delight*

When we got back from Nashville my priority was to get the garden in. I was pretty anxious as I really wanted it in by the end of April and now it was looking more like May 15. Ugh.

I've been gardening for years, though I would never say that any of them have been that successful. My best garden I think was my first one in South Carolina. I was living with a buddy of mine in a single wide deep in the sticks of SC, Hodges. His trailer was dropped into a clearing of a woods. Our crazy "neighbor" had a farm tractor and came over and tilled up a nice patch for me. It's amazing how well that tractor prepped the soil. All I remember of that garden was that I had so many cucumber I couldn't give enough away. I had a bumper crop of bush beans and I thought the corn was promising but it went to smut.

When had my own house in South Carolina I also tried a garden. I borrowed my friend's brand new rear tine tiller and it promptly broke. It wasn't my fault. The tiller had a cracked block from the factory but I don't think I have borrowed any power tools in my life since. I had high hopes for that garden. I think the first year went well but the succeeding years got worse and worse, finally going wild in the end. I hated the heat in SC and just couldn't muster the resolve to get out and tend the garden.

In Michigan I also put in a garden. It started out well but when I left the foundry and started traveling for a living that was basically the end of my gardening career there. I was never home to take care of it. Sometimes I was gone for multiple weeks at a time.

When we moved to Georgia I didn't even bother gardening in Bainbridge. It was more miserable than SC. When we moved to Blairsville, the previous home owner had a neat above ground system for gardening. He had taken blue plastic drums, cut them in half and mounted them in wooden frames. This is great because a fat guy like me hates bending over or getting down on my knees. In addition to his system, I cover each planter with weed block and grow my plants through them. This not only eliminates any weeds but also retains more moisture in the soil which is important since we've been in a drought the past few years. I have pictures on my half dead laptop that I can't get to and I can't post from this net book. Sorry.

The first summer here I only did tomatoes, snow peas and herbs I think. Last summer I added Lima beans, pole beans, peppers, cucumbers and watermelon. Also last summer I ordered my tomatoes and peppers plants on-line. That worked out fairly well. The heirloom tomatoes didn't grow great but I was still pleased with the results of ordering plants on line.

A while back I had posted on the importance of gardening and eating more locally. One of my challenges was to either start a garden or add something new to your garden. So here is what I have done to step up to my own challenge. Once again I have chile peppers and tomatoes from This year I added an eggplant from them. In addition to the "normal" cucumbers I bought a pickling cucumber plant (I prefer to start from live plants rather than seeds). I'm trying a different watermelon this year. I've never been successful with watermelon. But I try. I switched from pole beans to bush beans, the same beans I had so much success with in that first garden in Hodges.

I'm also trying corn this year. This is a big experiment on two fronts. One, I reclaimed an old garden bed from the PO that had gone wild. This plot has not been well worked or tilled. This plot is also partial shade. And two, trying to use my weed block system, planted all of the seeds in mini-peat pots. So far so good. The early corn is up and the Silver Queen is right behind it. I planted some pumpkins in with the corn also. I went with cooking pumpkins instead of jack-o-lanterns but with Rose's since who's to say we can't use them for Halloween? That is if they grow.

On the porches I have the eggplant in a topsy turvy planter that my mother-in-law gave me. Rose helped me plant it so we call it HER eggplant. That's on the front porch. I also had a white onion sprout on me and she planted that. I sits underneath the eggplant. I don't expect much out of that, certainly no onions, but hope that it grows tall. I have topsy turvy planter on the back porch also that I had cherry tomatoes in last year. This year I put the pickling cucumbers in it. So far so good. That hangs on the side porch.

Also on the side porch I have a HUGE pot that I had used for the snow peas in the past. This year I have radishes and carrots. I planted them after being inspired from a visit to my sister-in-law's. On a whim I bought some green onion seeds. Rose planted them. Those seem to be growing well along with the radishes, not sure about the carrots. I'll try to post pictures later for inspiration.

I think I rose up to my own challenge.

*song from Mission UK's album The First Chapter


Brook said...

WOW! I just have tomatoes this year. We are doing so much traveling that a garden would just die. So anyway-that is impressive. My lima beans did for crap last year-and I had such high hopes, they are my very favorite.

Huff Daddy said...

My limas were disappointing last year also and I too love them. I understand the travel bit. We were gone for a 1/2 week last year and I came back to all of my tomatoes rotting/dying on the vine. It happens that quick. The garden sounds impressive right now, still remains to be seen if it produces.

Brook said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for it to do well(especially the corn you love so much!)

Amy said...

I really want to shave a garden one day!! Butter beans are so good. My parents always had a garden-so much work. But very worth it! ;) I think my boys are big enough now to be pretty good pickers and shellers.

Huff Daddy said...

Hi Amy, to quote from the Waterboy, you can do it!

Gardens are work but being fat and lazy I have tweaked mine to the point that it is minimal work. I've got it down to where I water it in the morning every other day, about a 20 minute investment. I could probably go every three days easy. And then in the late season I have about the same time commitment for picking the vegetables.

I saw at Home Depot they had a pretty cool display of gardening in a 4' x 8' plot. They had something like 30 different vegetables in there. For those that want to spend the money, I've seen a slick but expensive container garden system on line that accomplishes the same thing.

Since I can get my camera to connect to this netbook I will try to take some pics with my phone and post them to give everyone some inspiration.