Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garden Gossip

A nice row of bush beans.

Last year was not a great year for the gardens at my place. With O. being born in March, any planting was haphazard at best. I had the best of intentions to make this year better, but it has not really panned out. Some tomato plants, some winter squash and some bush beans just about sums it up for the vegetables. That and some carrots, which are usually a complete pain in the ass to plant because the seeds are so small, and then you have to thin them, which no one ever does well enough, and then the carrots end up tiny and oddly shaped. Not this year. This year I found Carrot Tape, which are seeds spaced perfectly apart, embedded in a biodegradable paper strip. All I had to do was make a little trench, cut the tape to length, and I was done. A couple hundred carrots planted in five minutes. If this works I am will be a fan for life.

Two things I am psyched about garden-wise are my blueberry bushes and my sapling screen.

Tanks for the memories.
The sapling screen is basically a small fence I built in front of my propane tank, so I wouldn't have to stare at it while I am doing dishes, which seems like three hours a day sometimes. I built it with saplings and branches cut from all around the property, using five strong ones for uprights and then weaving thinner ones in between. It came out looking ok, but the grand vision is for it to be covered with vines and flowers. To that end I grabbed some old pots, filled them with primo soil and dug them into the stony ground in front of the fence. Morning Glories, Nasturtiums and some other stuff are starting to take off, and I hope by the end of the year I will have a nice solid mass of color there. I plan to leave the dead vines on the fence, and to let them accumulate over the years, so eventually the dead vines will be thick enough to block out the tank even in winter. Long range planning, they call it. Of course, the fence will probably fall over before then. We'll see.

The blueberry bushes were dug up from my neighbor, who was getting rid of a bunch. These are mature, producing bushes of multiple varieties, so this was a big score. I went down to check out which ones were for the taking, and set up a Saturday morning where I could have 4 solid hours free. The week previous I managed to cut back trees and brush and dig eight holes during various nap times. That Saturday I dug ten bushes up, lugged them to my truck, and headed home. This was all supervised by the sheep with their brand new lambs, which were very distracting. I dug two more holes and then planted each bush. Gardening around here rarely involves shovels and spades and more likely involves cutter mattocks and rock bars. Plus, it started to snow. Pretty typical.
Luckily my horrible rocky mineral soil is exactly what blueberries love, so all I did was add a bit of peat moss to each hole and call it good. Lots of water is key, so I also rigged up a series of soaker hoses, and then mulched everything with some pine bark, which I then covered with straw. All of this in four hours, I was psyched, and tired. Once you see the size of some of the rocks I pulled up you will understand.

No berries this year, since the important thing is to have they set good roots. So though it breaks my heart, all of the berry flowers have to be pinched off. But next year we should have a pretty good crop, and I plan to add my seven struggling bushes to these ten, making up a nice blueberry patch we will be able to harvest for years to come.

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