Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gardening 2011

That doesn't mean that I've passed Gardening 101, 102, 201, 204, or 1001. It's just a date. I'm not qualified to take the course.

However, even if I'd fail the course due to poor design, soil quality and weed tolerance, I'm enjoying it a lot. It gives me great pleasure.

This is the area I like to work on most. The back yard only has a rectangular functional garden and a load of play equipment, plastic toys and general ugliness. I'll get to it, but it's always the second last place I plant up (the alley always gets a few plants that fit nowhere else).

This year I tried to create a new small bed near my patio area using the lasagna method (layers of straw, compost, cardboard and manure). There aren't enough layers, but I wanted to try it anyway. It's surrounded by chunks of concrete from my neighbour's basement reno.

I already know that the loose chunks are an issue with the lawn mower, but they are easily removed if it really bugs me and once the layers compact down to soil level. The shape and look please me though.

I don't think you can win gardening awards with a dead stick planted in a noticable spot, so I'll have to forfeit my prize again this year. The idea was to have an Evan Cherry tree here, but it did not make it through the winter. I've got a heathly cherry stick in the back yard though, so I'll either move it in the fall or leave it be in the corner where it is. I like the idea of a blooming tree in the front though. We'll see.

When I visit more formal yards, more maintained and perfect yards, I always come away feeling a bit lustful. But then I come home to this and I love it all over again. It's my own style. No, it won't ever win awards, it isn't very planned, veggies mix with flowers and it lacks color every fall. It's non-perfectionist and a bit wild. I'll always love the formal style too, but only to visit. I won't choose to live in it anytime soon.

This is my new herb spiral. There is a permaculture concept about using heat retaining rocks and spiral up to a peak where you'd plant the dry, mediterannean herbs. Ideally it is 3 feet high at the peak, but mine is barely 18". The principles may not work for me, but I like the shape and again it's easily dismantled if it doesn't work. Right now I've got thyme at the top and parsley going down the spiral. Basil will be added after the last frost date. Spinach and lettuce are at the bottom and Beth is going to try her hand at planting something on the other side of it.

This looks like it was a successful attempt at planting garlic in the fall. They are big and healthy and we've eaten from the greens a bit already. I have shallots that somehow survived the winter too and are looking good. That was an accident that I don't quite understand, but they're doing well and it's good to see greens so early in the spring.

One of last year's strawberry patches is sad this year (too dry and exposed, I think, to handle the cold), but this patch is looking promising.

This year I've tried some curving paths and if they work well, I'll put bricks along them. I used to mulch my paths with grass clippings, but we simply don't have enough grass anymore to do that and I've finally talked sense into our neighbour and he leaves his clippings in his grass now instead of bagging it all. Better for the environment and his grass, but I've talked my way out of a source of clippings for my garden use. Hmm. That backfired a bit. That's okay. I've got two free brick sources that I'll make use of.

15 trays of seedlings this year. They have been exposed to lots of wind this week as they harden off, but I've been taking them in and out of the house for a week now (mostly because I ran out of room until the lights anyway). All of my brassicas are really tiny still, and I have precious few flowers. I don't know why I didn't plant more, but I picked up some cheap wave petunias and geraniums to make up for my lack.

Hopefully I have a better idea what I've got room for by the community league's perennial exchange on May 28th. That will be a good time to donate the leftovers.


life in this 1880 farmhouse said...

I think gardening is your own style as no two properties or ambitions are the same. For all the dryness you have been having we have had rain. the sun did burst through for a small spell this afternoon and I hopped outside so quickly to cut lawn. The garden is going to have to wait until the weekend.

Rosa said...

Your garden always looks great and I am feeling rather lustful about your herb spiral!
Pretty surer Henry would pitch a hissy fit if I tried to use any of 'his' rocks though! lol

Tamara Jansen said...

Your garden looks amazing! I just am in awe of you and Rosa and your way of starting plants indoors. Even under ideal conditions at the greenhouse, we struggle with propogation. KUDO's to you guys!