Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That time of year (off with the save the world hat ond on with the getcher hands dirty hat)

Have I mentioned that everyone, everywhere, should be gardening? Maybe once or twice? Well, I'm not troubled by repetition (as anyone who knows me is all too aware), and decided that as Spring is warming up the world in this hemisphere - while cooling it off in the other - I could still give a nudge to those sitting on the proverbial fence. May it be a picket fence if you haven't at least fondled mentally the idea of putting seed to earth out of your own hand.

Serious gardeners have been starting their seeds for awhile now, mentally planting them according to the timetables of their region, the phases of the moon, and whatever internal and external clocks they use for the creation of foods and blooms in their personal world.

One of my favorite sites for gardening is Pepper Joe's. He's had a site for many years, and is still just as personable as ever. Of course, peppers (hot ones!) are his big thing, but he has some other things as well. But his gardening advice is for anything you want to grow. It's like having the cool garden guy next door hang out with you and tell you all his secrets. Check him out!

Those who live where winter is approaching have put or are putting the majority of their gardens to bed, with maybe some root vegetables left in place for over wintering. Canned and frozen, braided and ground, the garden's bounty will continue into the cold months.

For those of us in almost constantly fine gardening weather zones, the preservation mode needn't be as critical, for we can keep on planting away, though our summer heat will change the needs of the gardens, along with the rainy season.

I've become a big fan of container and raised bed gardening since living in the islands. Especially since where I live on Culebra is about 3 feet above sea level with very clayish, rock filled soil. Though wonderfully, under the mangroves and a literal few feet away from the water, there is this soil that is like soil that has been lovingly tended and composted for many years...because it has, by Mother Nature. But, it's also salty, so when I use it, which I do sparingly, mixing it with bought soil, I have to take it away from the water's edge and let rain water cleanse it. A tip: look around your yard, if you have a yard, to see what your soil is like in different spots. It will save you a lot of time if you pay attention first to where the sun hits most of the day and how close your water source is before you start, even if you use containers totally.

Seed catalogs are fun! Really, I swear it. And for the price of a garden full of seeds you still couldn't buy that vintage leather messenger bag from J. Peterman, so start looking at seed catalogs instead! I know a lot of catalogs are online and from a paper saving point of view, it's best to look at them online. But if you've never held a seed catalog, I'd suggest you order a few. Some of the best are full of great advice, recipes and photographs that make you want to eat the page. Sort of like porno, but different.

Now I could take the time to copy all of this info into my own blog but hey, my Daddy always told me to not re-invent the wheel and a number of people have already put together lists of catalogs I would be suggesting plus a few I didn't know about. One blog among others, The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener's Assistant (not quite rolling off the tongue, but the blog is a lot tidier, and every bit as straightforward AND there is an explanation of the name as well, which I really like) has such a list.

Ok. The first photo I found that I really REALLY liked happened to be one that as I was trying to source where the hell it actually came from (it was found on flickr), I got lost. This guy has way too much energy and I almost forgot why I was on his...plethora of sites within a Wow. Have fun. Who knew gardeners could be so...oh never mind. Here's the pics, 1 & 2, & 3

If you want to see more of the myriad of this guy's work, click on the link, then click on the date in the upper left area of the page, which will take you to an index. Go crazy. But come back before gardening season is over!

Now...where was I? Oh! I like this so much because it takes up very little space and it has a LOT of room for all sorts of great veggies. There is even a cool set up for peas (or some other climbing thing) on the second tier, which could be extended if needed (and it would be).


I wish this were a larger image because it takes away ALL excuses for that tiresome chant "I only have a tiny yard!" Be glad you HAVE a yard for heaven's sake! There are a lot of ornamentals in here and while they are nice, I'm all about feeding your body along with feeding your spirit, so I'd combine both and make some other sort of stepping stone accomodation as that looks like something I'd trip on, real fast. Squeeze in a little bistro table for those nights of wine and rhubarb and you're all set. This blog has all sorts of clever ideas for small space gardening. Enjoy!

Here's that fence you've been sitting on! Get off it and use it.

Again, this blogger is into ornamentals rather than veggies here, but there are some great ideas along with some fun fence work (no epees, take your mask off now, it looks weird) as well.

I like tiered stuff, what can I say? If I could have a loft bedroom space, I'd love it. With a Heidi window. And...ok, right, gardens. Yes...track, MJ, track!

This site is full of all sorts of things, but this is one of them that came across just as I was thinking about doing a post of this sort. The tiered container photos, though very bland, be one of my favorite ideas, just because it shows the versatility of the idea. The first tiered photo was made out of entirely recycled wood (and be careful on that one, don't use treated lumber - it leaches into the soil) so that's a winning factor but this could be done the same way. The big idea is saving space, using space, making something that works for you. Or, if you have a small space and lots of bucks, hire someone and sit going through your seed catalog drinking a summer libation while they do the sweating. I do love to watch a talented worker sweat for me. Hey, it's true. Admit it, you like it too.

Raised bed gardening here:

Raised bed. Square foot. There are so many ways to garden, but this is one of the better ones. Less space is wasted with raised beds, they are easy to work around and again, the soil is simple to improve and add to. This site is full of all sorts of much so that I'm exhausted. So before I try to go on fumble fingered, I need to take my own summery libation into my own garden and finish this post in a bit. Cheers!

Oh dear...all I did was work in the garden; staking a tomato here, picking a pepper there, letting my ice melt...why does that make me so, oh, not bubbly happy, but deeply content? I'm putting *easily pleased* at the top of the list.

I couldn't remember why I nabbed this photo for a second. And then it came to me. Trash can gardening! Just so you know, attractive containers ain't cheap. Trash cans are, relatively so and they are deep - roots can stretch and stretch some more, which tomatoes, for one, love. I'm talking kitchen trash cans here, compactly sized. But hey, if you've got the room, go for Big Buster!

Plus, there is some very cool information on a sort of composting I'd never heard about. Check it out. Again, ornamentals here but...sing the chorus now~~~~~~~~~~

I was going to tell you about upside down gardening, which I've never done. But after doing a fairly long scan of a LOT of personal stories, I think I'll skip it. Better to just use a container if you don't plant in the ground.

On that sane and sensible note...I'll leave you the same way I left. With this guy's blog. It seems he's famous, but I never heard anything about him before (I don't watch television, and I'm not very cool), if anyone cares to explain - I figure one of my daughters will clue me in but please, don't be shy, I'm always open to learning...even if it dribbles out sooner or later, depending on content.

I only came across his blog as he wrote about upside down tomato growing. And the name of his blog, Dispatches from the Island, how could I resist delving deeper? It was interesting and kind of off center funny...and apparently, that is pretty accurate. He and his wife are in Europe now, click on the title to get to the present. Read on, let me know what happens next...and good night.

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