A lot can grow in a week

We just got back from our first trip back to California since living on the East coast.  Sometimes it feels like I never even lived there. and this trip was proof of it.  The whole trip just seemed like a vaguely familiar dream.  I knew those highways, restaurants, flowers and mountains. People were more or less the same and conversations caught back up as if I never left. The scenery was gorgeous, the driving was a price to pay for it, and in a way, it felt like I never left.  But it has been about 10 months since I’ve been away and a new place is where I belong now.  This trip was a weird reminder that ‘home’ for me will always be a moving target.  I sink my claws in when I move to a place, but leaving and getting used to a new adventure isn’t as hard as I anticipate.  At least, it wasn’t this time.

Anyway.

You know you have a gardening problem when the first thing you do upon arriving at your house after a week away is to run to the backyard and see how your garden is doing! So much can change in a week! I think this is why I love gardening.  Tangible results. My husband says I’m in to all things fertility related (such as NFP, infertility, etc.) and I guess my garden is no exception.

I made some little pictures here to update where we’re at growing wise. I love to look back at these at the end of the season and remember how small those tomato plants started out! Hopefully the labeling will help me remember what’s what!

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I made three 12x4ft.  garden beds in total.  I basically have a full on farm back here! If you recall, I dug up about a 14 ft. diameter bed of bulbs to place beds #2 and #3. About a week before we left on our trip, I finally dug up the surrounding bulbs outside of the garden beds and planted grass using a lawn patch repair kit. From far away I think that the grass could qualify as “coming in nicely”, though if you’re up close it might tell a different story. I think from far away the circle is hardly visible anymore, right? Maybe? Stark contrast to what it was a few weeks ago.

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Not really when it was at its worst, but there is a glimpse of how many bulbs I had to dig up.

Though #1 was our “afterthought” its what I’ll start off with first.

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I planted the flowers you guys suggested along the fence, but none of them have come up yet. Its been a few months, so I’m not sure what happened. I even planted a “round two” two weeks after the first round didn’t take. Everything else seems to be growing. I had lavender and rosemary growing from seed where the squash is now, but none of it ever came up.  Much like the “oregano”, which never seemed to grow. I will probably just buy a plant and stick it in there. Everything else was from seed.

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The other side of the garden has some lavender working it out (behind the peas, not pictured) and some corn.  Our squirrels are little rascals, so only a few shoots are coming up, the ones that I think have survived the scavenging.  Anyway, it makes for an interesting growing pattern for sure!

Now onto #2.

MM_3Most of these are from seeds. Minus a few pickling cucumbers (I’ll have to thin, I’m sure) and the jalapenos.  My sad, sad jalapeño story is that I had them growing GREAT from seed indoors.  Fabulous. And then while hardening off, I saw a few leaves missing. I thought it was from placing them outside. I showed my husband one night when I moved them back indoors how many leaves were missing.  Well, when I woke up the next morning, the ENTIRE PLANTS were gone. All three of my jalapeño plants.  That’s when I realized how bad our mice problem was!!  So I went on a rampage to get rid of those suckers and I think we’re good now. But man, what little goobers.

Also, my master plan is to have jalapeños and tomatoes for salsa and cucumbers and dill for pickles, in case you were wondering if there was a method to my madness.

And the view from the back:

MM_6Yes, I am attempting more melons this year.  After last year’s miserable failure, I wasn’t going to, but then my husband requested them.  So, here’s to round two.

Now bed #3.

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I probably have too many tomatoes for my own good, but I thought mine had died, so I went out and bought an extra cherry and roma just to be safe.  And since it still looked like mine weren’t growing, I accepted two plants from a neighbor who had extra.  Then when I came back, mine suddenly caught up and look like contenders after all.  So that makes 7 total (I don’t think I labeled them all here). Maybe I’ll try pasta sauce this year? It hardly seems worth the time, so maybe I’ll stick with salsas.

From the back side:

MM_5Only the cilantro was from seed here.  Everything else I tried to grow inside failed miserably, so I just bought everything else on super sale one day. The broccoli looked so pitiful I didn’t think it would make it, so I planted them all close together. Although somethings munching on them, they actually are all almost thriving (whereas two of the romaine’s already died) and now planted entirely too close (I think). I guess we’ll see what happens from here.  The spinach isn’t growing well at all, so I don’t expect it to last much longer, but hopefully the rest make it.  We’re having salad tonight, as a matter of fact! I harvested right after this picture.

Finally, if you remember, there was a dilapidated bench that was sitting in the back there in the far left corner of the yard.

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We had a dead tree removed there earlier this winter so now there is a nice plant to sit and some old roots under that soil, which is rumored to be a great place to have a garden.

ImageAfter the bulb fiasco, I have been too lazy to dig this all up, but I just randomly planted some winter squash back there, and it actually came up.

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This would be a great place for them to spread out and grow if they actually make it, so I’m hoping they stick with it (and I remember to water them!).

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Our (East Coast) garden

On my list of the many, many things I’m trying to get accomplished lately, “build an entire new garden” suddenly got thrown in there.  I blame SmartGardener (after all my praises, yes!) because it really made me realize that I need to get on this already and so I went into a turmoil trying to get it all built. My rush was probably a little premature, because I wonder if Smart Gardener is aware of exactly how much snow has been covering our yard this winter…

Anyways, I took advantage of the last few sunny weekends and weekdays to get things moving.  After much back and forth, we decided to tear up the existing flower bed to build above ground boxes like last year instead of in ground beds like I had planned.  And unlike last year, where I basically had free (husband) labor, this year I acquired the materials and built the boxes myself! Yes, quality suffered as a result and my body was complete jelly last week, but they’re holding soil so, I didn’t do that poorly!

I don’t have a “before” picture of the massive flower bed but it was a 13 ft diameter circle completely full of an ivy ground cover and chalk full of bulbs (that we didn’t realize until we started digging it up).  Of what kind of flower, I have no idea. I sent an email out to our neighborhood with the subject “Free Bulbs” and had a few interested people come by and dig some up.  No one could identify them. Not nearly as many people came by as I was hoping for (4 total) but I was happy at least some bulbs got a new home! If we can’t eat it, we aren’t interested in it. At this point, anyway.

It was seriously back breaking work to dig the beds as the ground was so root clogged and full of bulbs that I was afraid we were going to have no soil left after we got rid of all the roots.  This was partially true. It took a week of work on my part and another full weekend of more help from my husband. Fortunately, our neighbors are doing a home addition and have a large pile of dirt we were able to supplement with.  Unfortunately, even after supplementing with compost, this soil very clayey, so I’m not sure how things will grow. I did my little soil tests and made amendments, but I guess I need to buy another kit to see what its like now.  Sometimes I miss the days of access to a water quality lab. Its killing me to pay for these tests!

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“your soil and your camera focus stink”

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boxes built and soil pathetically dug up (before my husband helped here). congrats, you have 2 12×4 ft garden boxes on a giant mud pit. i was so proud!

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and this happened. taken monday. built just in time! let’s get planting! er…

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Taken today, boxes are filled. And see? Clayey. Debating adding sand. We will also need to get the rest of the bulbs (sprigs of green) around the boxes before we spread mulch.

We also decided to do a third garden bed along the side yard.  I want to plant some tall things here to bring us a little privacy from our neighbors yard.  Corn, sunflowers, maybe some other flowers as well. This one is 12×4 ft and yes, I still need to recycle all the weeds just sitting by the side. These are some really rough “during” photos. You can also see the color difference in the soil.  I really think we are going to need to add some more topsoil to the boxes.

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Side garden bed. And yes, check out our beautiful laundry rack that I failed to fold up before it froze this way…

Just looking at those pictures at our old garden in California last year make me realize how green everything was.  Its so dreary here right now!  I am really looking forward to the spring and summer and more color!