Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Double, Double, Soil and Trowel

The Plot at Fenton Street
I've just ordered a soil testing kit. This gardening habit of mine is getting serious. I'm now a confirmed soil freak. Last fall, before closing up my community garden plot at Fenton Street, I grew a cover crop of clover and then just as the clover started to cover the plot, I carefully dug it up in troughs, row by row, from the front to the back, and turned the clover upside down into the hole. Then over the top of that, I layered bags and bags of organic leaf gro. To great satisfaction. The smell of all that composted material left me woozy.

Now upstairs in Claire's abandoned bedroom, I've built a shelf and light system and my three-week-old seedlings are throwing off a delightful aroma that makes me yearn for summer sun and soil. I got it bad this gardening bug.

So the soil bags should arrive within a few days and I've been up early watching how-to videos from the University of Maryland.  I'm going to soil test both my home garden and my plot at Fenton Street and I'm feeling as if my dirt is going to pass the test with flying colors. I'll have a complete understanding of my nutrients—sulfur (S), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), and boron (B), and textural analysis (e.g. silty clay loam), percentage of organic matter, and cation exchange capacity (whatever that is??!!!). I'll be silly with scientific analysis. And with that knowledge, I'll bring out my kale, my Swiss chard, my onions, my lettuce and my basil and I'll plant them knowing that the nutrients that they need to grow strong and vigorous will be easily available to them. It's going to be a beautiful gardening year this year. The scent is in the air. The Putterer

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gazing Ball

My gazing ball perfectly matches the purple crocus.

Spring has come super early this year to my garden thanks to global climate change. Last year for Presidents Day weekend, I was dealing with the after effects of a bad snow storm and cleaning up the mess when a number of my trees were crushed under the heavy snow of a late January storm. In 2011, snow was still on the ground, but in 2010, the crocus were not in bloom until almost a full two weeks later into March.

I'm not complaining today because I had the most wonderful weekend cleaning out the winter mess and planning for all the new plantings that I'm going to add to all the opportune locations that my fence is now offering. I've got an assortment of foundation plantings on order at Wayside from native plants like Kalmia and fothergilla to a host of wonderful roses that I hope one day will grow like crazy all over the fence and make a beautiful scene and scent for anyone coming into my garden.

My hands are crackling with dry skin now and my eyes are sleepy with allergens, but it was all well worth it. I am one happy Putterer. The Putterer

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Planning Putter

As my Meyers lemon tree delivers the last of the 2011 season, a plan is taking shape for my 2012 deliverables.

My quest to grow bigger, better and more vegetables in the community garden plot and to complement that production with edible landscape plants in my home garden is ever more earnest.

In my mind just now, I'm traipsing out to enjoy the sweet gentle breeze, the birds are chuckling with each other and zipping playfully around my chair. The new fence is crowded with a jumble of climbing roses that compete with each other to scent the garden. The new pickles are twirling their grabby tendrils up my purple ladder. Over at the community garden, amidst zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers, my bush beans and herbs and sweet onions and peppers and tomatoes and corn and squash are all  compatibly thriving under just the right conditions. A gentle rain comes every other day, and the sun marches pleasantly across the sky.

By now, I am familiar enough with how garden fantasies escalate on a cold February day when I'm tucked into my sofa, drinking a cup of chicken soup beside a warm fire. It's a vision, thanks to pests and drought, that I have yet to realize, but I can always hope.

Realities nip at the legs of this fantasy. How to manage too much garden with little time? How to grow just the right amount of starter plants. How to know when to set the seeds? When to plant? How close can I plant the seedlings to maximize variety. Where should I buy my seeds? Who will share with me? Which plants are companions and which are enemies? Do I have enough pots? Are they big enough? How much potting soil should I have on hand? How is the compost coming along? When should I turn it? Will the worms survive if I up-end their tierra firma?

Today, I'm off to figure out an indoor seed growing system. I'm going to buy shelves and lights and power cords and s-hooks and chains and I'm going to string it all together and start my garden indoors. The Putterer