Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kathleen: How does your garden grow?

It's been almost 2 months since I reported that we'd decided to grow some veggies this year to show the grands where food comes from. They're not old enough to start rolling their eyes when I start telling "back in the day" stories, so I'm telling them how I used to plant a huge vegetable garden back in our ranching days, and they're all set to grow tomatoes.

Trouble is, we're townies now, and we have a shady lot. But I'm a Better Homes-type magazine junkie and a devotee of the newspaper, and this spring we're all about raising crops no matter where you live. So the answer is a raised bed in the protected area we call "the courtyard." Great morning sun, easy access. The painting part was a big hit. Notice the plastic bags over the shoes.

Big sister just turned 7 and has discovered the phone. Baby sister is always the first to offer to help.

The next step was purchasing dirt. If you're cheap like me, you kinda hate to buy dirt, but I know all dirt is not created equal. Plus, who's gonna dig up enough dirt to fill this thing? It took two pickup loads of pulverized black dirt and a bunch of bags of compost and peat.

Fast forward about a month and a half. Here's our
grandson (younger son's one and only) who's
another budding farmer. We had a cool spring, but the plants are coming along. Deb's gorgeous
tomato plants put our to shame, but we'll get
there. Yep, I believe in popping in a few marigolds to keep away some of the tomato pests. I've caught a marigold munching woodchuck leaning over the edge a couple of times--have you seen those things go after dandelions?--but I barked at him and he scuttled away.

We put most of the herbs in pots around the edge of the courtyard, where we like to do flowers. I used ot do gobs of flower containers, but I got lazy. I'm serious about taking a field trip to see Michele's fairy towns. The kids insist on that being the next project. We are SO into fairies. And I can't wait for our fairy gardner guest, Sally J. Smith, in July.

So far so good with my gardners in training. We're finally getting some good rain, and they're amazed to see what rain and sun do forplants. "They're taller than they were yesterday!"

I do get in on the act. Clyde's plan calls for white trim around the edge of our T-shaped bed to match some of the other stuff he's built. I tell you, those cowboys are handy with tools.

Now I know you Southerners are smuggling about the comparitive size of your plants on this 19th day of June, but up here in you-betchaland we're taking a chance planting tomatoes much before June 1. But we do produce crops.

How's your garden growing? Trying anything new? Doing anything different this summer? Planning a vacation or a stay-cation?


Playground Monitor said...

I have my right leg in a cast up to the knee (treatment for plantar fasciitis that refused to respond to physical therapy) so I'm not doing any planting. I'm just enjoying the perennials from years past and my herb garden. Going out in 98 degree weather insures my leg will itch under the cast and my toes will swell. So I'm just birdwatching from the den and counting the days til the cast comes off. Removal day is July 10, just three days before I leave for RWA in DC. I'll have 3 days to exfoliate my leg, slather it with Natural Glow lotion and hope a little color takes so my leg won't glow in the dark, exercise my ankle that will have been immobile for 5 1/2 weeks and pray I can walk halfway normally once this 5 pound hunk of fiberglass comes off.

It's been an interesting summer. :-/


Keri Ford said...

Kathleen, that is so very cool! I've been wanting to plant marigolds ever since I've heard of the pest protection they do. But I keep forgetting to buy the dirt and seeds.

Your kids are little dolls and I know they'll remember this for a long time. I remember planting with my grandpa when I was that age.

Cindy Gerard said...

Kathy - I laughed out loud when i saw the oldest g-dtr with the phone to her ear as she was 'helping'. Too cute.
No veggies for us this year. the hubby's back is giving him fits and I don't do heat :o0

So we're enjoying a lot of flowers. We have huge perennial gardens. Now if it weren't for the weeds ...

Kylie said...

Yay, Kathleen! I'm so impressed! Only perennial flowers hear (with annuals thrown in for color) so they, at least, are enjoying all this blasted rain! Hubby would love a garden but past history proved he's only good at planting it and not so much at working in it!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Aren't those perennials grand?! We are so low maintenance here.
the thing about the raised bed is that it looks manageable. Time will tell.

Anyone have any suggestions for keeping weeds in check? I try to do a little each day, grab a few when I go out to get the paper, water, walk, etc., but they're getting ahead of me in the "low maintenance" landscaping.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Marilyn, I've got a cast on a character's foot right now. Hugs, dear. Years ago I got a bad sunburn on my legs a couple of days before going to RWA. Back when RWA was right around Jun 1, so that's way back. I had to find a way to elevate my legs a bit on the plane. Haven't had one of those since. Very few ever--I'm no sun worshipper--but it was one of those first boating days of the season deals, wasn't hot so it didn't seem like I was getting fried. ND sun can be tricky. I've heard it's the state that has the most sunny days.

Enjoy the conference! We'll expect a full report.

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy I adore these pictures! They're wonderful! And i noticed the plastic bags on the shoes before I read about them. I chuckled, thinking "Now there's a woman with experience."

You raised beds are a great idea. . . I wish we had more room for growing things. Pretty much limited to pots on the lanai. sigh. And that means they have to look nice. I am not a particularly "nice-nice" gardener.

Marilyn, I'm pulling for you and your cast. What a pain, especially when the weather is so warm and gorgeous!

Oh, and as for weeding-- the spot-and-yank method is probably best for vegetables. I don't know if you can use PREEN on edibles or not. I used PREEN AND GREEN on my perennial garden in Minnesota and it was wildly effective. . . left only a few weeds to pull. . . as I found out when I decided it wasn't helping that much and didn't apply it one year. I was totally overgrown in two freakin' weeks! After that, I was a PREEN devotee.

Michele Hauf said...

What fun to have a little garden like that right outside your door! Teach them young and who knows, they'll be growing their own food when they get older.

I saw pics at someone's blog the other day of their 'crop'. Huge red tomatoes and peppers. Already! And we just have the tiny little green beginnings here.

I am ashamed to admit my faery garden this year has gone untended. It's those darned army worms that freak me out. I went out to weed the other day and saw them in amongst the weeds. I hate creepy crawly little gray worms. So I left it and have avoided it since. Sigh... Maybe another few weeks and those worms will be gone and I can whip that garden into shape.

ForestJane said...

I'm wondering if the grandkids are going to remember the summer they learned how to garden... or the summer they saw grandma barking at the woodchucks. :D

My tomatoes are producing two or three a week (the big ones) and five or so per week (cherry sized.) I'm eating my snowpeas like daily vitamins, 4 to 5 per day, crunching them raw right off the vines.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, you have a lanai, *sigh*. I think I have some Preen in the garage. I got a big thing of it last year and never got it down. The trick is to get it on early. (But not too early. Otherwise, where's the tension?)

Jane, my mouth is watering for those tomatoes. I'll have to trundle off to the farmers' market tomorrow. But they won't be local yet.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Michele, the grands have been gathering caterpillars by the gobs and letting them crawel all over their arms. *shiver* We took one into Bachmann's--Piper picked it right out as the lady was thumbing through the book--and they turn into the little yellow butterflies or moths, whatever. Harmless. I'm told they tickle.

lois greiman said...

Cutest kids evvvvvver, Kathy. You're amazing. I'm so impressed.

As for me, my little raised strawberry patch is doing really well. My husband takes care of the vegies, and the chickies are mine. Love those stupid birds. Anything that comes when I call is okay in my book.

Michele Hauf said...

I am shivering in HORROR to think about worms crawling on any part of me!

Debra Dixon said...

I'm late because I've been out of town, but I adore these kiddies!

My step-father has been trying to grow tomatoes because his great grandson wants to grow something and they've had really bad luck.

So for Father's Day we gave him one of our hanging tomato vines which has 5 tomatoes on it.