Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Garden Report: May 18, 2014

A lot has been happening in the garden this year; unfortunately, most of it is the kind of work that doesn’t necessarily show.

The bane of my existence right now is this.


Doesn’t look like that big a deal, does it. This is a pile of dirt that measures about 3’ high, 5-6’ wide, and 15’ long. It’s all the dirt excavated from the greenhouse site, and it all has to go somewhere else.

Happily, there really isn’t any such thing as too much garden-bed dirt. I’ll need every last grain of sand in that pile somewhere.

Unfortunately, this is not garden-bed dirt yet. I can’t just toss shovelfuls into the wheelbarrow, race across the yard and dump them into beds.

Well, I could, I suppose – but it wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good.

It is clay with a lot of trash in it (bits of concrete and broken glass from the original construction, the green webbing from the original sod, bits of broken plastic toys from its time as ‘support for the play structure’, etc.) and absolutely zero nutrients left.

So before I can dump it into a bed and start growing things, I need to tinker with it; sift out the trash, mix in things like finished compost, peat moss and vermiculite to lighten it up a bit and add back some nutrients.

It’s a lot of hard, sweaty, really dirty work. The kind of work that when you come in after a few hours of doing it and get into the shower? The water running off you is murky.

And it is slow-going. I feel like I’ve been doing battle with that damned pile for months, and it only just started to look like I’ve made any progress.

But that aside…what else is new? Well, we started a small orange grove in the front.

These are three different kinds of dwarf orange trees, each of which is supposed to fruit up at a different time of year – hopefully, once they get comfortable, we’ll have some kind of orange to enjoy for all but a few months each year. The one in the middle is trying to set some fruit, but I’ll be very surprised if anything actually comes of it – they’re still babies.

The horseradish has done its usual oh, is it spring? I’M HERE!

Of the five currants I planted, only one is still thriving at all.

The rhubarb made me so happy; I was 100% certain that it was completely dead. And then it was all, Nope, I’m still here.

This whole area needs a makeover right now; it’s a tremendous mess, but, it also suffered the worst impact from the damned gophers this year.

I started to pull out the poppies, but they were too pretty. Plus there was chamomile in there. And if the one wasn’t pretty enough, the two of them together are kind of swoon-worthy. So I left them alone. 

We’ve gotten a few artichokes this year, but I have to say: The plants are not doing too hot, overall. They aren’t getting particularly good growth; I think the “old” plants died over this last winter, so we’re only getting growth on their newest babies. Circle of life and all that. 

Meanwhile, we have been discovered by the rabbits: I looked out the kitchen window one evening to see one happily perched on the edge of the bed, daintily nibbling on the celery I’d just transplanted.

Your move, Wabbit…

(The white stuff is coyote pee. So not only is the celery caged up, it is surrounded by Eau d’Predator.)

Likewise, the squirrels have discovered the Shangri La that are our trees. The stone fruit tree was trying to create some fruit for us.

But the squirrels had a marvelous time picking each and every one of them, taking one bite out of it, and going, “BLECH! NASTY UNRIPE FRUIT! Hmm. Maybe this one will be tasty-good…BLECH!” <= lather, rinse, repeat.

Dumb animals.

I’ve got some cucumbers starting to catch their stride.

I had to replant and cage a bunch of these as well, since the disgruntled rabbits didn’t waste much time moving over to this bed; while they’re still small, those little green baskets like strawberries come in work really well for it.

I made a new, small-ish bed-of-sorts and dropped some zucchini into it; as always with that plant, they are plotting world domination. I’m pretty sure we’ll have a good 5-6 decent-sized zucchinis to enjoy this week. This is a thing with zucchini, they go from “hmm, I think that’s going to be a squash eventually” to “holy mother of gahd, that thing is enormous!” seemingly overnight.

These guys actually came out today – dropped a couple wheelbarrows of fresh soil in there and planted kidney beans with a red onion border to help keep the pests down a bit. (That works pretty darned well, by the way – once those onions start sprouting, they do a really good job deterring creepy-crawlies.)

There’s a lot more back there – spinach, broccoli, golden beets, green beans, cantaloupe, carrots, yellow and candy onions, strawberries, and about eight different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.

It’s going to be a busy year; and hopefully a productive one as well. The last couple seasons have really sucked, mostly because I just didn’t put the time and energy into it that I needed to if I wanted anything to come of it.

But this year feels different. This year feels like it is moving again, like all the things that were just sitting there waiting for something, something I couldn’t seem to find…found their motivation.

Maybe it’s this: A bunch of scrap metal lying all over the yard suddenly starting to transform into a greenhouse.

It’s going to be something else, isn’t it?!


Nicole said...

Oh I SO SO SO wish I was somewhere near you! I would sift the crap outta that dirt!!! I enjoy playing in the dirt. Gardening, not so much. But give me a garden bed, and I'll happily play for a few days :)
Best of luck to you! I love seeing your gardening projects :)

Monday's Child said...
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Monday's Child said...

I am so jealous of your greenhouse! We took ours down when we moved last year, and haven't put it back up yet... and it was nowhere near as nice as yours looks to be. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

(Note to self: proofread BEFORE submitting, next time!)