Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Gardening . . .

My name is Svetlana and I am gardening addict.  It started so simply, a few plants, a few soil amendments, a hoe. . . I don't know when it stopped being a choice and when it became a compulsion.  After the first week week of spring my cuticles are the color of dirt.   Some mornings I find myself wrist deep in the earth furiously digging out bermuda stolons with animal intensity . . . in my pink fruity pajamas (with my pears in the air like I just don't care . . .  Aaaaaaaaaa! Oooooooh!).  But I can stop anytime.  I don't need help.  Just because six mornings out of the week my husband happens to find me  digging or planting or clipping or watering in bare feet or that sometimes I drive by my house two or three times just to admire my roses that are bursting with white and pink blooms . . .  I'm fine.  Really.

The first Passion Flower
 of the season
Spring has sprung!  Wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere, signs that the Earth is renewing its spirit after the long (or short if you live in the Southern US) slumber of winter.  For me the urges to get out and dig in the dirt are as powerful as any nesting compulsion I've ever had (and actually, my nesting usually takes the form of some sort of radical desire to homestead, but that is another post).  In years past the desire to cultivate was strong, but the timing was all wrong.  Either time or money was arrayed against me and I would pout until the scorching heat of summer drove me indoors until fall.

Rhubarb in Lasagna Garden bed
Texas has three growing seasons (four if you are in the south), which is lovely, but we do pay for it with 100°F+ days and in many parts of the state, drought.  There is something so miraculous about tending the soil, sowing seed, and bringing forth a bounty of sustenance.   Actually, it is nothing short of habit forming.  

I have used many methods of garden plot planning from sod removal, to raised beds in boxes, raised beds out of boxes, lasagna gardening, container gardens, etc.  This year I have struck upon the method for the Lazy Girl in me.  Garden in a bag.  I use the Square Foot Gardening Technique with this method and it works beautifully.

Bag of Soil with a 3-sided cut opening.
The flap is rolled and tucked into the bag.
Starting with 2 or 4 or 6 one cubic foot bags of soil, begin by selecting your site.  Stab a few holes in one side of the bag.  Flip it over, laying it flat and cut a flap out of the top of the bag.  If you are planting peppers or eggplant, no more than 2 to 4 seedlings per  bag.  For tomatoes, 2 seems to be the limit.  Cucumber and lettuce seeds can be sown directly into the bags and gently watered or poked into place.  Sow radish and carrot seeds together and water in.  For lettuce, radishes, and carrots sprinkling a few more seeds on every 2 weeks or so will keep you going for a long time.   

Once the seeds begin sprouting I like to use a little homemade foliar spray to help encourage healthy foliage and root growth.  Mine is a combination of fish emulsion, cider vinegar, and molasses.  There are lots of recipes online for this kind of spray, including Garrett Juice.  Spraying once a week until you see flowers and then twice a week after fruit has begun to set seems to be a manageable and beneficial regimen.

home to future cantaloupe
This year I have planted cantaloupe and watermelon in my raised beds, but for the most part I have used the bags of soil for basil,  lettuce, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and chiles.  At the end of the season, I will use the spent soil on my raised beds.

If you feel certain that you can't grow a thing and that you must have a brown thumb, find a spot in the yard that is wet and poke a few cucumber seeds in the ground.  They really do not need much tending and benefit from benign neglect so long as they have water.  

Jennifer Pack from Unearthing This Life has some useful info on starting seeds indoors on Not Dabbling in Normal.


Sandy said...

What do you do about the birds? We have grackles here (I think that's what they are.) which are just awful. If I tried to grow anything they would eat it. They are not even afraid of cats, so there isn't much hope.

Svetlana said...

I will answer in a post. Thanks for the question!