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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Here again is a small update on my veggie-herb garden to-be!  I went wild this week and procured the bags of dirt my dull yard soil desperately needed.  However, the joke’s on the yard, it won’t get this soil until AFTER the growing season!  I am taking an idea from Mother Earth News about getting started in vegetable gardening without dealing with the shortcomings of my current soil.  I have my seed potatoes soaking up some rays and getting their eyes ready in their handy egg carton tray.  I have two varieties; bintje, which is a golden yellow medium size tuber (seems like a Yukon Gold lite), and a French Fingerling which is a medium to large tuber with a distinctive rose-colored skin.  The only problem is that in some belated additional research I discovered that these are both mid-season varieties.  So much for a lengthy harvest!  Oh well, a lesson learned for next year 🙂

Eye on a French fingerling

 

 

In addition to potatoes seeds for a beautiful red poppy called “American Legion” went into the ground around my tulips and hyacinths.  I learned my lesson last summer when my fall bulbs had bloomed and finally dried up leaving me with a bed of depressing yellow husks and nothing to coming up to replace them.  If all goes well as the bulbs die out my hardy summer blooming perennials and new annual flowers will gently take over the show.

 

My final little announcement concerns my “herb garden.”  I have this in quotes because quiet frankly none of this is from seed out of fear that I would not be able to get anything started!  In the Northwest many of the popular culinary herbs can be tricky to get started because of their desire for such warm weather.  Instead I bought some nice starter plants; thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano.  There seemed to be a million different varieties of each but I gravitated towards ones that were deemed hardier and had more pronounced flavors to cook with.

The start of my "herb garden"

 

I chose a metal beverage bucket to house the herbs so they could be more easily moved around, very few places around my house get continual sunlight and I wanted the herbs to get the most they could.  Ultimately I want to always keep a strong and varied herb garden so that I can begin making my own supplies of essential oils and dried herbs.  It is amazing to see how even the smallest projects can create big opportunities for satisfying many daily needs.   It can be a great example of self-sufficiency, even on a small-scale.

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So I made a trip to see a curious creature this week-the garden center ( This was after having made an online order of seeds and starters).  I am happy to report that I stuck with my initial garden plan!  This year will include two types of potatoes, pole beans, bush beans, a lettuce mix, snap peas, a basic herb selection and two types of sunflowers.  Ok, I fibbed, I threw on a small and charming rhubarb start because I dream of one day making a strawberry-rhubarb pie from scratch!!  It is with this desire of “from-scratch” that the garden center becomes an odd concept in my mind.  Without them where would I begin as a Hopeful Gardener?  I think maybe a seed swap or a neighbor with a prolific garden?  Maybe scavenge from a wild version (that’s assuming I know what I am looking at) ?  I certainly see the irony in my comments on a resource I so clearly must take advantage of.  As I browsed the massive selection of seeds, soils, sprays, plants, gloves, tools and every decorative garden stake known to man I began to note the sterility, tidiness and not to mention extravagant selection and required consumption in the modern gardening experience.  How is it eco-conscious to buy plastic bags of fertilizer every season?  Or a new set of plastic tools?  The ultimate silly that I recently laid eyes on was the plastic compost tumbler.  When I saw this product all I could imagine were people buying it with the best of intentions to begin composting and having it sit outside with a handful of rotting vegetables in it for the next few years, the novelty of it having worn off and the plastic with us forever.  Naturally there is a place in the world for businesses to offer gardeners and farmers the tools to do their craft.  At what point are these offerings keeping gardeners isolated from or even working against their purpose to cultivate and enjoy the world around them?

In this second year of my established garden I have worked very hard to not require a “tidy” garden from myself.  I have avoided artificial mulches, fertilizers and the overwhelming desire to weed like its going out of style.  When I fertilize I enjoy using Dr. Earth products.  They create organic products and much to my enjoyment only allow their products to be carried at independent garden centers (however I get mine at an Ace Hardware- not a chain?)  I discovered how effective it is to re-use and re-classify materials I already have for gardening.  This has significantly cut down on what I need to go and purchase new.  The most obvious example is the re-use of containers for planting-although I do use some of the old plastic starter plant containers to transport mulch and compost to different beds.  I treat my garden tools well and I don’t get hooked on garden gadgets.  You really only need a certain number of tools to do most garden jobs and a little research will save you money.  I will admit, the closest to “gadget” I get is my bulb planter.  Since bulbs are some of my favorites to cultivate this tube with teeth is indispensable when I am digging 60, four-inch deep holes into the ground as the bitter November winds blow.

A peak of green from a mysterious bulb...

One of the best gardening moment I had so far actually happened today.  I took some composted mulch I have been working on for a year and a half and spread it around my garden bed.  This pile was partially in place when I moved into my house and I amended it with  kitchen leftovers and cover soil from when I took out a number of fabric weed sheets.  Since the bottom of the pile was a bit of a mystery and the top was less than carefully planned I waited two winters while I turned and observed.  Today I laid it around my new bulbs and hardy perennials, mostly as a mulch and hopefully as a mild compost.

Funny enough I plan to go to the garden center this weekend and buy the bags of soil I am going to use to start my vegetable garden.  The goal is to get what I need and get out (a good goal to have at any store!)  Until my dreams of self-sufficiency and homesteading more fruitfully blossom I will admit that a Hopeful Gardner has to start somewhere. The important thing is that I finish in the garden bed, not at the check stand 🙂

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After some consideration these gardening posts will probably come in two parts.  The first being a discussion of any gardening related reading (all of my reading and reviews will eventually make it to the Resources and Inspirations page) and then news on my Spring 2011 Hopeful Garden.  In documenting the process I am looking forward to better understanding the work a garden truly involves and how certain styles of gardening relate to the eco-conscious movement-could this be the “green” replacement phrase I was looking for? I may need to post a poll to get that one figured out 🙂

Now that I am typing and talking to myself, these gardening posts are probably going to come in three parts.  1.) Gardening reads and musings    2.)  Updates on Hopeful Garden 2011    3.) The progress of my current garden beds, always a source of curiosity and wonder.  Today I shall count all this explanation as my musings and discussion-I never want anyone to feel as if they are slogging through a post!

Hopeful Garden 2011 is still just that, hopeful.  Not in the negative *sigh* kind of way but more of a twinkle-in-my-eye way.  The goal is before I head to my soft and fluffy bed that I write a list of exactly what I want to grow.  Nothing else, just that.  It’s a starting point for all that research and seed shopping.  I am sticking to foods I know I am willing to eat if they survive; beans, potatoes, lettuce, zucchini, pumpkins, herbs and rhubarb.  Not wasting is a huge part of these eco-focused lifestyle changes.  In addition, I am planning a to do a “bag garden.”  For those who may not know, this means taking bags of garden soil, cutting a large window in the top and punching numerous holes through the bottom and planting directly in them.  It doesn’t sound pretty, but its the easiest way to get a veggie garden started if you don’t necessarily have the perfect area to start with.  The bag will smother the weeds and leftover turf during the growing season and once the plants are done you can tear away the bag and break it all into the ground, making way for a more sophisticated bed next year or even a start for the fall and winter plants.

All three colors!

Finally, my current garden which I have illustrated with a little photo from this morning.  This was taken during a break between pounding hail and rain! I really tried to get the crocus perspective.  These are the children of a previous year’s planting and I am proud that I was able to help preserve them and that they came back so strong!!  From some garden gossip I heard crocus wear themselves out pretty quick so I may need to look into adding more this coming fall.  But for now I will enjoy the added color.

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