Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gardening 2017

One of the things I promised myself this year was to expand my garden by getting another raised bed. We have really heavy clay on our property so, short of the huge effort of digging organic material into the soil, the easiest way to grow anything is raised beds. For the last couple of years I've grown various things, particularly tomatoes and peppers, in a single 8x4 cedar plank box full of municipal compost.

This year I ordered another box, put it together (inhaling the beautiful scent of cedar as I did) and set it out perpendicular to the first box. My gardening guru, Master Gardener Bob, brought me a pickup load of the most beautiful compost I have ever seen from the Howard County (where he lives) landfill, and twenty trips from the driveway to the back yard with a wheelbarrow later, I had filled the new box, topped up the old box, and filled three new patio planters. I also filled three of the four tires I've had hanging around since the last time we got the tires changed on our car. I've been meaning to plant potatoes in them.

Since we've been travelling so much this year I didn't have the chance to plant seeds indoors this year, so I went to a local garden center and bought most of what I wanted as seedlings.

In the new box, at the front, I have eight tomatoes (four cooking and four eating), four peppers (three bell and one hot), two cucumbers (for eating and pickles), a yellow squash, a basil, and two marigolds.

In the old box, at the back, I have planted four marigolds, a line of sunflowers along the back of the box, and a patch of beets (from seed) in the left half. It was a little late for cabbage so I'll plant those in July for a fall harvest.

I've also branched out in the herb department.

 In addition to my rosemary, thyme, sage, mint and oregano...
I've added lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon basil, amethyst basil, dill, cilantro (coriander) and chives.
 I've also finally added parsley (in the middle) to my box of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
I felt a little adventurous and bought something entirely new to me - Sweet Woodruff/Sweetscented Bedstraw - just because I liked the smell of it, and because it's supposed to grow well in shade - of which I have a lot. It's supposed to make a nice sweet tea, too.

My favourite new acquisition is this:

The smallest bay tree in the world.

(I may be able to sneak a couple of leaves off this year, but I'm really going to have to wait till next year to start harvesting.)
I love cooking with bay leaves but the dry ones you buy in the grocery store really don't have much flavour, so I've wished I could have my own tree. Voila! Unfortunately they aren't hardy to Zone 7, but, fortunately, they do really well in pots, so when it freezes I'll bring it in and set it by the back door for the winter. It will be a bonsai bay.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to fly to California yesterday, the day after I planted everything out, and the weather forecast is for record-breaking heat. Thankfully, my dear friend Reiko has promised to keep an eye on them when she comes to feed the cats while I'm away, so hopefully they'll all be thriving when I get back.

I am so looking forward to having a few months of just being at home!


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