Tag Archives: garden

The Planting

Back before my dad spent two weeks in-and-out of the hospital, having an ultrasound, an MRI and four endoscopic procedures, I wrote about how I built a raised bed garden frame all by my very lonesome. Well, Owen offered moral support, but mostly it was all by my very lonesome.

Now comes the part about how I made the frame into an actual garden.

First, I went to Lowe’s and used our military discount to buy starter plants. Since I went in early June, the pickin’s were kinda slim, so I mostly ended up with peppers. Red, yellow, orange and hot banana peppers, to be exact. For variety I added two zucchini plants, even though I have heard stories about how they consume everything in their path. I suspect they’ll make short work of my tiny 4×4 plot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I also had several container tomato plants and some herbs.

the plants

Ready to Rock

Owen helped me pick out the location by scouting the sunniest spot in the yard.

raised bed

After I moved Owen, I placed the frame where I wanted it, marked it off, moved it back out of the way, and started digging. I wanted to be sure the soil beneath was loosened up so the roots could grow down as well as out.

The ground was hard-packed, full of rocks and tree roots, and it was slow work. After about twenty minutes of jumping up and down on the shovel and shaking out grass clumps, all I had was this:

breaking the sod

Never terribly patient, I decided to enlist the help of a professional digger.

Owen digs

Not even kidding. I called the dog over, pointed him in the right direction and instructed, “Dig, Owie!” He tentatively scooped with one paw and looked up at me questioningly. When I said, “Yes! Good boy!” he went into high-speed Rototiller mode. Dirt flying, Paws of Lightning dug down about eight inches right quick.

I stopped him only to move him to the next corner.

Paws of Lightning

Look at that dirt fly!

Go Paws of Lightning, go!

I freaking love that dog.

Once we were dug down eight inches all around the square (can you be “around” in a square?), I filled it back in with loose soil. I used a completely random mixture of “native soil”, bagged garden soil from Lowe’s and composted manure that my neighbors had delivered by the truckful and were kind enough to share with me. I think my ratio was, ten shovelfuls of native soil-to-a dumped-in amount of garden soil-to-a few shovelfuls of manure.

I mixed it up as well as I could with my cool little rake from Lowes and brought it up to ground level.

soil mixture

Time to place the frame on! I discovered at this point that I needed to widen the square just a smidge on one side so that the frame would sit evenly. Then, because I am incredibly anal retentive, I made sure the frame was level on all four sides and packed it in securely from the outside.

almost perfectly level

Perfect!

Well, close enough for jazz.

I used the same(ish) soil ratio to fill the frame until it was about an inch from the top.

soil ratio

Next, I placed my plants approximately where I wanted them, ignoring the instructions to “place 18″ apart”. If I “placed 18″ apart” I would have had about four plants in my 4×4 garden. Instead I spaced about 10″ apart.

plant plan

Gardening is hard work. Snack break!

snack break

Sorry about the oogy bite marks but I was too hungry to wait to take the picture.

There’s not much left to tell. I peeled the bottom of my peat pots and sunk the plants according to instruction.

planted plants

Cute wheelbarrow, eh? I love my little barrow.

I planted the tomato plants in the container (and one in the left corner of the bed), put some some cat grass seed in the colored pots and watered everything.

Planted garden!

Our garden: June 5th

The cool part is that the garden is already feeding our family. Owen likes to eat the composted manure chunks out of it. Which is pretty gross but, to his credit, he hasn’t once tried to dig in the garden since he helped create it.

Gratuitous artsy-looking plant photo:

pepper plants

Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the herbs! I planted those in a window planter right outside our door. Easy access when cooking!

herb planter

Parsley, basil, dill, thyme and rosemary. Plus sage, chives and oregano that I didn’t have room for and stuffed down along the sides of the raised bed garden. Along with the marjoram I got from my farm share.

So it’s a little crowded in there. But, it’s been a month and everything seems to be doing well so far.

updated garden

Our garden: July 1st

Especially the zucchini.

Oh, My Aching Bones

Today, Owie and I took this:

raised bed box

And turned it into this:

raised bed garden

Which made us feel like doing this:

Owen sleeping

All of which explains why you won’t be getting the recipe for this:

buffalo chicken pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

At least not tonight. But posts on all of the above coming soon! (Except the sleeping part. Because that would be really boring.)

I’m know you’re on pins and needles and all, but you’re going to have to wait. For now I’ll just say that Day Five was a sugar-free success. Oh, and I came up with a nice sweet-and-tart salad today, too. But you’ll have to go to my Facebook page to see it!

And now…good night!

How about you? How did you spend your Sunday?

Pepper Update

Remember this banana pepper?

Baby banana pepper

Now it looks like this:

Big banana pepper

Anyone know when to pick a banana pepper?

Anyone know when to pick a peck of pickled peppers?

Besides Peter Piper, I mean.

A Fungus Among Us

About a week ago, I noticed three little mushrooms growing on the edge of our yard.

Three toadstools

How cute! I thought. Spotted red toadstools, just like Smurf houses!

I moved in for a closer look, hoping to see tiny blue humanoids scurrying about.

Toadstool close-up

Wait a minute! Those aren’t spots…

They’re…they’re…

BITE MARKS!

Slug bites

Ewwww!

Sorry.

I thought it was interesting in a creepy sort of way. I had no idea that slugs eat mushrooms (never having taken the time to think about it).

It reminded me of a hiking trip I took with T in 2008. It had been a very wet spring and the ground was absolutely saturated. I had never seen so many different types of mushrooms in my life.

We starting taking pictures of each new ‘shroom, then coming up with names for them. It helped pass the time on an otherwise soggy hike.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One Little Pepper and How it Grew

Deployment is an invasive little critter. It can creep into your thoughts when you are least expecting it.

This morning I was sitting outside in my dilapidated lounge chair, enjoying a book and a cup of green tea. Owen was lying in the grass a few feet away, pointing his ears at various chirps and rustles. A woodsy breeze blew through the treetops, cool now, but with the promise of coming heat.

I was content.

Or I thought I was. As I sighed and looked up, I noticed a single green pod had sprouted from my banana pepper plant. It hung there, swaying in a sea of green, shining with life. I was mesmerized.

And then my heart broke.

T would never see this tiny pepper, I thought. The riotous growth of summer will long since have faded into the browns of fall and even the chill of winter by the time he re-enters this life. This is not a new thought, but every once in a while it pounces unexpectedly and it gets no weaker with repetition.

Last deployment, I would have stopped there. But, I am – I think – learning some patience and some resiliency. My next thought was, Well, I guess this is what my blog is for.

Banana Pepper

Guess what, baby? We have a banana pepper!

Side note: It took me 13 tries to get this photograph and while I was outside with my camera, the dog was inside eating cat litter and the cat was throwing up on the rug.

Our pets have an almost intuitive knack for distracting me from deployment sadness. I’m trying to decide whether or not I’m grateful for this.

 Happy Fourth, everyone!