Jun
12
2010

  Much Gardening

Since I watched William all but 2 hours yesterday, Terry was willing to watch W all morning while I worked in my garden. I cut and put down several more pieces of carpet and watered the plants that needed it (generally just the newly-planted or transplanted ones). But my big accomplishment was clearing a new bed and planting tomatoes.

I built another tepee out of sticks (my first was for the cucumbers, which have fruit as big as my pinky now) for the tomatoes. I'm short on landscape fabric staples, which I've been using as stakes to fasten the sticks to the ground, so my latest tower is only attached in places-- I'd really like to fix that before the next storm blows through.

I expended a lot of energy pulling up weeds to clear the area for the new bed, so much that I didn't have enough energy left over to dig the holes for all the tomatoes. I dug holes for the first three without a problem, but I noticed on the fourth hole that the trowel was hardly going into the earth at all. I was digging away 1/4" at a time, chip, chip, chip. That's when I realized I had no more upper-body strength left to dig, so I just did what I could to finish that hole and get that tomato planted, then I moved on.

I still had enough strength to wield a pitchfork and move mulch, so I mulched the new bed, and after that was done, I went on to water plants. Neither requires the muscles needed to break through sod.

I'm afraid I lost most of the coneflowers planted by the original owner to weeding today. I saw the feathery leaves when I was weeding, and tried to avoid pulling out the plants. But that section of the garden was overrun with vines, and when I ripped them out, more often than not the coneflowers came out with them. But the coneflowers didn't seem to come out by their roots, otherwise I would have just replanted them. Instead, I think their thin little stems just broke. I felt a little bad about losing them, but not that bad. They were planted by the previous owner, and were part of her garden plan, not my own. She had a lot of plants that attract butterflies, and while I think that's nice, it's not really my priority. And I'm not sure I'll go out of my way to re-plant coneflowers as I repopulate the garden over the next few years.

OH! I just looked up coneflowers online, to see if they were annual or perennial, and I discovered that I did not rip up the coneflowers. There was some plant next to the butterfly bush with buds forming but not yet in bloom that I figured was a perennial rather than a weed, and I let it be (although it's pretty much crowded out by the butterfly bush right now, and I didn't bother to cut back the bush today). What got ripped up was cosmos. I forgot there were cosmos around. There was a beautiful show for the first few years we lived here, but they are annual flowers, and could only re-seed themselves so many times, I guess. But apparently, there are/were still a few seeds that landed in favorable conditions. So with luck I'll get one lonely cosmos plant this year. Cosmos I'll plant again in the future, I like how tall and graceful they are. And I can grow annuals from seed. Can I grow perennials from seed? I've really forgotten so much about gardening that I used to know.

When I was looking for a place to put the tomatoes this morning, at first I thought I'd put them by the fence so I wouldn't have to find some other support. And I started clearning by the fence. But then I realized that even if my short little fence keeps the deer out of the garden in general, having tomatoes right at the fence line would be a disaster. The deer would just stick their necks over the fence, or their mouths through the fenceposts, and eat up my tomatoes. So I stopped weeding near the fence and looked for another location.

I decided to clear a spot between the cucumbers and the butterfly bush, mostly because the spot was relatively level, in full sun, and not in the path I'm currently using for the wheelbarrow. It is in the path I have planned for the wheelbarrow, but T left a 2' high mound of dirt right where my path should go. The mound is now part of the landscape, and covered with sod, and will be very difficult to get rid of. I am not sure I will get to it this season, so I am just going with de-facto paths (there are limited routes I can actually move the wheelbarrow due to the uneven mounds all over the place).

But before I broke ground, I did wonder to myself whether putting tomatoes near cucumbers was a good idea. I know tomatoes grow well in the company of marigolds and basil, but cucumbers, I don't know. It's possible to plant certain things together that will poison each other, or they'll attract bugs that kill one or the other. After thinking about it for a few minutes, and not remembering anything useful, I just guessed that it was unlikely that tomatoes and cucumbers were a lethal combination. It might not be among the most ideal garden pairings, but there is a lot about this incarnation of my garden that is not ideal. It is my goal to have a garden this year. As opposed to a vermin-infested weed patch. So that there are any useful plants, in any sort of recognizeable pattern is enough for me right now.

But since I worked through the sunny part of the day (all told, I think I was out there from 9am-1:30pm), I had to take many breaks to sit in the shade (a small strip of shade persists right next to the garage), which gave me time to contemplate the future of the garden. I think I may fill the two concentric arcs completely with perennials, and confine the annuals to the beds behind them. Or at least, fill those patches mostly with perennials, and have designated sections within them for annuals. Right now I just have annuals and perennials scattered together. It's not ideal, but my goal was simply to save as many perennials as possible and get the annuals in the ground, anywhere, so they wouldn't die in their containers.

I'm also going to put the 3-Sisters plot somewhere else next year, for sure. It's preventing me from dealing with the border plants on that side of the garden. It's not physically preventing me from accessing the border, since there is still a "path" over there between the plot and the border, but mentally it's a problem, since it's inconvenient to get around the plot. The inconvenience stems from a poorly constructed, falling-down rabbit fence making the path along one edge very narrow and difficult to cross. Part of me wants to pull up the rabbit fence there entirely and just get it out of the way, but since I know rabbits can quickly decimate a garden, I'm just dealing with the problem until I have time to create a better solution. More accurately, I'm just using the problem as an excuse to focus on other parts of the garden, even when the part near the fence is where a lot of my needy perennials are located.