Thursday, April 23, 2009

Garden Euphoria

It is curious to me, when or if I stop to think about it, how someone who can care for and nurture animals with pretty near infinite patience (and a fair amount of success) has absolutely no ability to grow plants. And it is not for lack of trying. I have spent half of my life trying to have a garden of one sort or another, but usually my animal endeavors, children, work, climate, pests, and general forgetfulness spell doom from the first immersion of tiny seed into soil.

Our "garden" from the past few years was a weed patch, surrounded by gray, broken picket fence panels. Most people thought we were trying to replicate a Gothic cemetery. While we have probably the richest compost pile in the county, the main stumbling block was moving the compost to where we needed it. Then my husband got his little tractor going, and hope sprang anew.

We tore down the old fences, weeded the whole patch, extended two of the three raised beds, and then set about moving in scoop after scoop of llama compost and dirt from the goat pens.

What little fella doesn't like to play in the sand box?

Of course we all had our own ideas of just how things should be done, including the job forman, Ms. Mad Hen. Still, it turned out to be an amazingly pleasant, cooperative and (we all hope) productive bit of work.

Mad Hen spent the entire day worrying about the garden.

In a few days, we actually had plants in the ground. Most of our plants come from vendors at the farmers' market, but there are some seeds in the ground as well. The two upper beds contain everal kinds of squash and cucumbers, both gold and red beets, various colors of chard and lettuce, a few Cherokee tomatoes (more to come), a row of yard-long bean plants, and some left-over herbs that somehow managed to survive years of neglect in the lower bed. Herbs are in a big herb pot, plus smaller outposts (outpots?) around the place.

So far, so good.

The picket panels keep the dogs out (they love to dig in the cool, moist ground), and chicken wire keeps the rabbits at bay. Ground squirrels still sometimes go up and over the fences, but so far that predation gas been fairly light. Next week the eggplant should be ready to transplant, and we hope to add a few new kinds of tomatoes and peppers. Hopefully staggering the planting will result in a more continuous crop... do you think?

I have a few adult pima cotton plants, and am working on sprouting some colored ones. Next thing in the ground will be my dye plant seeds:
True Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria)
Common Agrimony (agrimonia Eupatoria)
Tansey (Tanacetum vulgare)
Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria Kelwayi)
False Saffron (Carthamus tinctorius)
Madder (Rubia tinctoria)
Cosmos (sulphureus Bright Lights and Klondyke Sunny Red) will go in my big "planter tubs" (old bath tubs no longer needed for watering livestock.

Maybe woad and Dyer's Knotweed, if I can find any more room, but more than likely they will have to wait until next year.

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.
~Author Unknown

Let's hope that works out. Cheers!

1 comment:

Laura McNeal said...

I, too, am a thwarted gardener with a sad little cemetery of dead plants. Your pictures give me hope, but I'm starting off with a single tomato, which I placed on the patio outside my kitchen window, hoping that if I see it eight times a day, I will remember to water it and to fertilize with llama doo from your very own llamas.

In solidarity with Mad Hen--