Adventures in cooking sustainably, healthfully, and locally

Until Dave puts the kybosh on it anyway.

Friday, June 1, 2012

So... now what?

I wanted to post some pics, but our camera is MIA.  So just the glorious vision of my typewritten words...

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Confession: I'm not very good at this.  My thumb is brown, at best.  Not even a green brown, like a baby poop brown.  Brown, fading into black.

Things that work against me include my flakiness and my inability to really tell if soil is wet, damp, or dry (this also hindered me in the field when doing my good ol' soil sampling.  I also was a lousy field geologist, come to think on it, so maybe this is related...).

I inherited that orchid, right?  I was checking it daily.  Wet, wet, wet, wet.  So I stop checking it daily.  Checked it last week.  Result? Bone dry.  Leaves are drooping.  I only hope I can salvage that beautiful beast.

The african violet?  Same story.  Wet, wet, wet, wet.  Check it last week?  Bone dry.  That little sucker isn't going to make it.

My hanging potted plants.  Dropped $30 on those!  Went away for Memorial Day because they were holding their moisture so well, but when I got home one was half dead.

My rose.  Sizzled.  My new rose that was mail ordered is so small and pathetic, I'm almost regretting buying it. Heck, from Home Depot, I could get a happy, healthier, bigger plant for the same price and I could have at least a season to kill it.  This little guy, not sure if I even have a season.

Heaven help the things we consume.  Garden isn't doing bad... yet.

Hobbies are precious things, things we do because we want to.  Because we love it.  Reading is an awesome habit for me because it's almost free.

Gardening, on the other hand, is not.  Sure, weeding is free (which reminds me, the berm has gone wild again...).  For how much I spend on flowers and veggies each season, and then I get so little return... not sure if this is a good hobby anymore.

I suppose I'm tired of getting so excited about the possibilities and then, despite my best efforts, it all dies.  Tomatoes rotted.  Peppers non-existent.  *sigh*

So I'm considering tossing in the towel and maybe just focusing on killing just flowers instead of veggies, and even then, only a couple.  Go to rock-scaping and have nothing live to kill.  Invest all that money that I'm quite literally burying in the ground only to disappear and instead... get a manicure.  Pick up a cheaper hobby... like...

Writing?  Heh!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tis the Season

I know that we aren't the only ones with magnificent weather waaaay to early in the season.  But I'll take it!  I've been trying to work on the garden with Gracie, and so far, so good.  Well, except my last season rose bush.  I didn't keep up with the rabbit deterrents enough and those bastards nibbled it to the ground again.  It currently has a plastic holey crate over the stub.  I think it'll be too late.

Here are some pics of the work done so far:

Our serviceberries were being attacked by ravenous mule deer, and so I hung a chunk of Irish Spring from a branch.  No deer has come back since.  Keeping fingers crossed!

I desperately wanted color in the front yard, but just couldn't afford to deck out the whole yard with new annual landscaping.  So I spent $30 on some marigolds, moss roses, and a dianthus (and English daisies, but they don't do well in full sun).  So now we have a nice little pop of color in our front yard.  I like it.

That little speck of green may or may not be squash returning from our failed attempt last year.  So I'm going to water it and if it turns out to be a veggie, great!  If not, the best cared for weed ever!

Spinach is already popping up!  I'm labeling the veggies this year with scrap wood and magic marker.

The broccoli bucket.  With a broccoli sign.

Some broccoli coming up!

More broccoli coming up!

I'm going to admit it.  I was lazy with the broccoli and the spinach.  They have such tiny seeds ... so I just sort of dumped the whole packet in the barrel and the raised bed.  I thinned the broccoli this morning, and I need to do it with the spinach too.  I was more precise with planting my potatoes this morning.

Now that things are starting to grow, I need to deter the wildlife some more.  Blood meal, Irish Spring, and Bobbex.

On deck: gooseberries, onions, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, double knock out rose bush, blue fescue, creeping phlox, shade wild flowers, and getting those daisies in the ground.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

WHAT? A New Post?

In JANUARY no less?

What can I say... I'm chomping at the bit.  I got my Jung's Seed Catalog, and I got all excited 'n' stuff.  Then I talked to my dear sister-in-law Leslie and she clued me into this little gem.  THEN my friend Lisa showed me this calculator on when to start seeds indoors, and I was a goner.  I must.  Dream.  Of gardening.

So allow me to dream a little bit here.  The following are plans, Big Fantastic Plans, that may or may not actually happen.

1. This is the northeast corner of our lot where the pre-existing lilac bushes live.  They have a combination of light and dark flowers in the spring, but I also have a lot of dead branches that need to be cut off.  Also note the bare patch of ground at the bottom.

This place gets a lot of shade; in fact, the whole north side of the property is a thick layer of ice due to the lack of sunlight that it gets.  It does get a little, as evidenced above, but not much.  So if I want to plant some flowers in that bare patch, it needs to deal with heat but with shade.
The plan?  Find appropriate flowers.  Also, transplant some flowering branches to the front yard to spread the lilac love.

2. This is the east fence line that abuts the open space.  Off picture to the left are the lilacs in #1.  We have chicken wire along the fence to keep the dogs from just going through the fence and running rampant in the open space.
 The plan?  We had originally thought about planting rose bushes at each post, a la #3, but as detailed in #3, something devoured our roses this last fall (to the ground, yo) and I'm not sure I want to invest that much money on something that will be eaten.  So my additional thoughts are some sort of dog-friendly ivy.

3. My experimental rose bush on the southeast corner of our house, right next to the shed.  It gets oodles of lovely sunshine.  It was $15 at the Home Depot and vigorous throughout the summer.  Always blooming, always green.
 Until it got ate.  It could have been the bunnies or deer.  So I need to replant this spot.
The plan?  I'm so tempted to replace my rose and drop a bit of Irish Spring bar soap to deter nibblers.  By the way, that is how Tagawa Gardens encouraged me to deter the nibblers.  Irish Spring has a powerful scent that animals hate.  After our front yard bushes got bitch slapped by the local fauna spring 2011, I bought a bunch of it.  We'll see if it works this spring...  Anyway, I did love this rose, considering how easy it was to take care of.  Depending on budget, I may just try it again.

4. In the background is the back yard, looking at the east fence line.  This is our south line, and because of the tall security fence on the right, there is a ton of shade in this area.  This fence line is also a favorite of the dogs for digging and getting muddy.  So in the backyard, we're thinking about putting a 2' strip of stone along that fence to deter digging.  No flowers.  However, in the foreground, it is a different story.

Although shaded, this is where our whiskey barrel planters will be placed.  Currently, the barrels are on the front stoop and I have found it impossible to keep anything alive in the barrels because of the ungodly heat and sunshine.  Everything burns and dies there.  But here it could be a different story.

The plan?  I believe this will be the spot for our 1 tomato plant and a mini herb garden.

5. Our raised beds.  
 The plan?  Replace all the soil.  Those are pine needles in there, and the planter in the background performed very poorly this year.  Then, plant a variety of goodies, including onions, potatoes, spinach, and jalapeno peppers.

6. The experimental strip of nothing along the north side of our driveway.  The squash and popping corn did grow... eventually.  And in all fairness I really didn't water it all that much.
 The plan?  Not sure on this one.  Originally I was planning on building another raised bed and seeing if improved soil would yield different results.  Now I'm just thinking about mulching it all and calling it a day.

7. The north side of our house.  To the right (off camera) are the other two raised beds.  Here is where I plan on building my third.
 The plan?  Strawberries and zucchini.

8. Along the west side of our house in the front yard.
 The plan?  I want to replace all that stone with mulch.  I plan on moving the stone to the back yard south fence line (for that 2' strip) and lovingly surrounding our mugo pines, dying mini lilac, sand cherries, quinces, and service berries with mulch.  Considering this side of the house gets absolutely hammered with sunshine and the rocks hold onto that heat, it takes a ton of water to keep these guys alive.  Team that with hungry critters who almost ate them all to death last spring, I want to ensure a good growing season this year.

9. North west part of the property, underneath a pine.  I have bulbs planted in there, but all that stone is not underlain with weed barrier so the rest of this berm is just infested with pickers and grass.
The plan?  Transplant the stone to the south fence line, perhaps get some weed barrier going, mulch it, and plant some flowers here.

So do I have specific flowers in mind?  I have been looking at a lot, pricing things out, and I'll save specific options for another post.  I'll probably not mail order anything and buy local from Tagawa.  I think it's most cost effective anyway and if I'm making a bad choice they won't hesitate to tell me so.  They helped a lot with choosing my front yard shrubbery, helping me understand the whats and whys of Colorado gardening.  And considering I still have so much to learn and they are eager teachers, I may as well go back.

Hoping all of you black/brown/green thumbers out there are dreaming too!  Gosh... spring can't come fast enough...