About Me

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Montgomery, Alabama, United States
I'm a Zone 8. I'm doing a little gardening to satisfy a curiosity to see whether or not I can do it. People make it look so easy-- what's stopping me from making it work? Contrary to my name ("Hana" means flower in Japanese) I have a history of killing plants. Well, most of them. Let's see how this one goes!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


So a couple weeks ago I ordered some seeds from the eBayer Eco Seeds, an Indian girl living in Toronto. I got an email today from her telling me that some lady somewhere else got my order, and that I should be expecting hers in the mail shortly and if I could please forward her order that would be great. *headdesk* For some reason, I am not the least bit perturbed or annoyed by this, but instead amused. After all, the night all our orders went out she sent us an email saying that they were looking forward to taking the next day off and getting some much needed rest. I guess having a personal touch to this and knowing that these are real people and not mechanized warehouse machines doing the processing makes it okay for me.

Anyway, I don't even remember what I ordered-- maybe 3 or 4 different flowers and herbs? I kind of don't want to look back on my order because it makes it more of a surprise, like Christmas! (haha how sad is that?) Albeit a late Christmas, and I'll first be opening a present meant for, say, my cousin instead of me.

I planned on going out and cracking into limestone today, but the holes where I dug in the ground are very very soggy with a little standing water, and my left hand appears to be broken (at least it feels that way-- I probably just strained something). This means that I will be repotting some things that need more room and pushing the quarry work to tomorrow, which will be an equally (if not more) beautiful day. My basils have been loving the weather recently and all three cartons of basil are growing beautifully. I bought a pack of Burpee mixed tomatoes that are starting to sprout their first true leaves, and they desperately need homes now, as well. All of the mystery plants that I was hoping would be peppers are turning into tomatoes (as far as I can tell), including the mutant one with 3 cotyledons. My zucchinis shot up several inches in less than a week and also demand new homes (but would love nothing more than to be in the ground). Everything is sort of rushing at me now, and almost everything points to me *needing* to get this bed prepared and everything in the ground before the scorching summer slams down on us. Also pressing pretty hard is the fact that the boyfriend will be out of town for two weeks come April, so any manly labor and hauling abilities will be limited once he's gone.

Wow, now that I've written all that out I just feel like AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHGHGHH.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Too much text, not enough pictures

Wow, it's been a little while! No pictures to update this time since I have been busy in the gardening and lazy with the creative stuff.

The truth is that I ache. Pretty badly. The boyfriend tells me that means I must be doing something right because, to him (a string-bean-thin exercise nut), pain is a good thing. All I know is that there are apparently muscles in my fingers that I have never ever used before and that I have discovered them through my toils this week. My left hand is feeling the brunt of the pain because it's the more useless of the two and has never even held a fork, much less a shovel.

To sum it up, I have been busily:

1. Pulling up Bermuda grass to make way for a garden plot, completely ignoring my previous plan for a carefree lasagna garden

2. Again with the abandoning of the lasagna simplicity, digging up the nice tightly-packed clay soil that comprises where the beds will be

3. Cheerlessly pulling out rocks

4. Hoping to God that the roots I am cutting out do not belong to a black walnut tree

Numero 4 is pretty important to me because if there is indeed black walnut in the earth where I am digging, then pretty much all of my toils will be for naught. I am sort of bracing myself for the disappointment of juglone-poisoned tomatoes, beans, okra, basil, oregano-- well, basically everything single thing I want to plant in that spot. I am starting to wonder what sort of maniacs would *want* to plant a walnut tree in their yard, much less two-- possibly more. The two I know for sure are butted up next to my neighbor's fence on the north side of the yard and kills their veggie patch when it decides to drop fruit and lose its leaves. I know there is at least one pecan tree next to the eastern fence which reaches into the other neighbor's yard and I am hoping that the mystery tree next to it is also a pecan. My neighbor tells me that the walnuts are only 4 years old (the house is well over 20, the current owner has been here 3) so obviously in a spurt of madness the former owners thought YES I WANT TO GUARANTEE THAT NO FUTURE TENANTS CAN EVER GARDEN HERE EVER AGAIN. EVER. LET'S BUY BLACK WALNUT TREES. How vindictive and evil.

Back to expending massive amounts of effort that may yield very little gain-- I have spent two days with a little spade digging up about 100~ish square feet of clay and limestone rocks. I want to find a way to smash through the limestone, as I came upon it about 2-3 inches down to my dismay. Since it's pretty brittle and shallow, a hammer and something spiky might work just to crack it enough to extract with the spade, but I am wondering if I am going to have get all Seven Dwarfs on it with like, a pickaxe or sledge hammer (things that I do not own but may have to borrow from the landscapingerly neighbor across the street). I hope it does not come down to that.

As for my plants, they are doing surprisingly well. I spent last Wednesday out and about with my sister, and as the temperatures reached around 80+ degrees, I came home to find that my hasty and careless watering of my tomato plants early in the day had left them yellow and crispy because of the droplets left on the leaves boiling off in the heat. Whoops. But tomatoes are nothing if not resilient, and after a much needed repotting and several days of cooler air and cloud cover, they're doing much much better and have popped out with some new leaves. I have mystery peppers and tomatoes growing-- the former makes me happy, the latter makes me sigh because I will have an overabundance of tomato seedlings that may end up homeless.

But back to consternation-- while digging I have disturbed an alarming array of insects that will want to eat my plants. Earwigs like whoa skitter around the cutworm pupae, which roll lazily out of the dirt mounds like big brown seeds. It's so gross that I cannot even begin to describe it without clenching in revulsion. Everyone says to put collars on the seedlings or to stick straws and toothpicks next to the stems to prevent the cutworms from wrapping their fat, pulsating jellysack bodies around the tender and delicious stems. And then the earwigs-- oh GOD the earwigs-- I hear a pan of cooking oil will finish them off. I wonder how well that works, and for how long. There are pillbugs, grasshoppers, crickets, and all sorts of other fauna that remind me why it is that I never took up gardening in the first place. And then I anticipate the gastropod onslaught. Can I overcome nature? I sure hope so. At least I don't have fire ants in my backyard (knocking persistently on wood with that one).

And then the happy-- there are bags of compost, topsoil, and mulch in the backyard, waiting to be used. I have lots of leaves from the front yard and the prospect of (almost) free hay from a local stables. We'll see how that one goes. But today? Thunderstorms. The rest of the week should be sunny, but today it's heavy heavy rains enthusiastically flooding my clayey soils. Although it will make it orders of magnitude more difficult to shovel the remainder of the garden, I get a day off to do like, real chores. And for that, I (and my crippled hands) are ever so grateful.

Monday, March 10, 2008


This weekend, I bought some garden stuff, like mulch and bonemeal and whatnot. I also bought a chocolate mint plant because they are simply fabulous.

This, of course, made me find one of my favorite stupid repetitive Weebl flash videos~
Who looooves the chocolate? Everyone loves the chocolate! Nobody hates the chocolate 'cos everyone loves the chocolate!

Oh man, people who like juvenile things like Weebl's Toons need help. Anyway, that pot will be the mint's permanent home-- no mints are allowed to be in the ground in the garden because of previous past bad behavior by mints around the world.

But that was Saturday. Today is Monday. I have done nothing between the time I got and repotted the CHOCCYmint and today. SOOoo today I:
-Planted some new seeds that I bought over the weekend
-Repotted some plants that needed repotting
-Killed one of my sunflowers :(

Starting from the top~ I got Lavender Lady lavender because I really really want to grow lavender and one variety seems inadequate, especially since it has not sprouted yet. I also got chervil, four o'clocks, and a couple more kinds of squash and cucumber. I also got a couple mesclun mixes and a mixed lettuce mix. I am very much looking forward to cut and come again salads. Mmm :9 I also planted some of the mystery beans, peppers, and random seeds that my neighbor gave to me.

I repotted the parsley that finally sprouted and repotted some lettuce. The latter was probably a mistake, but that is okay-- I have plenty of lettuce to make up for it. The lemon basil in the egg carton was starting to die, so I moved it into a cup. I should have moved it sooner, but I was sort of waiting for more to sprout before moving it to a bigger container. Whoops?

Aaand the sunflower. I accidentally popped into his stem with my thumbnail. I felt so bad because he was the tallest one of the lot. It honestly feels like I murdered a child.

Oh, but I do have pictures of happier things :D

Parsley in a box and corn babies! The corn is just for kicks-- I sort of don't expect it to survive the transplant into the garden.

Mystery nightshades! I am pretty sure that the 3-cotyledoned guy is a pepper of some sort since all of my tomatoes have 2.

Nasturtiums and marigolds are growing, and you might be able to see tiiiiiny petunias.

Flowers, salad mixes, mystery melons, and okra.

Radish sprouts are beautiful-- I had to take a bunch of pictures of them. I love their slender pinkish stalks and fat green leaves. It makes me happy.

It rained like whoa today and while all the water eventually sunk into the ground I noticed that it tends to pool right next to the patio. Because of this I designed my garden border to avoid the patio, but I am wondering how much distance I really need to put between the garden and the patio so that it won't flood during the rains.

Anyway, I don't have anything else meaningful to add today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Photo Phriday

Friday. Gorgeous, gorgeous Friday. It's a bit windy, but the sun is shining, the sky has cute little white puffs rolling about, and the temperature is cool but not cold. What a day to be outside and not indoors updating the blog! I never said that I play by the rules.

Today's work will be dedicated to clearing the evil black walnut bits that are strewn about the yard. Luckily they're nowhere near where my garden will be, but they still need to be taken care of. That, and the porch is a mess. My mom had commented on it being sort of kitanai when she saw it. She always says that word with such disdain, clipping the first syllable and dragging out the naaaaai. Japanese hate dirt.

Anyway, my mom also commented that cucumbers, okra, and beans are fun to grow. "Bean plants," she said, "make lots of flowers, and every flower becomes beans." And she said that she loves growing okra because "the more you pick it, the more that comes back." And then cucumbers she just adores, but she told me that she had a bad experience when she first tried to grow them in America. She lived in Panama Beach, Florida and she assumed that since stuff just grows in any old Tokyo soils if dropped on the ground and watered that it would work the same at her trailer in Florida. "The cucumbers grew an inch tall, sprouted flowers, and died. I was so sad." She urged me not to grow things that are cheap at the supermarket but to instead focus on tomatoes, basils, beans, etc. I assured her that I had plenty, although I didn't mention that I currently have some 15 Gardener's Delight, 33 large red cherry, and unknown numbers of beefsteak and random heirlooms that I just seeded last weekend. I did say that I was growing 5 different kinds of basil. She told me that she had tons of basil last year but since my dad is always working or is away on business that she has nobody to cook it for, so she just let it grow, flower, and die in the cold Ohio winter. I told her to get some shiso, which I think is called perilla or beefsteak plant, since that is her favorite Japanese herb. I also told her to freeze her herbs, but I guess that wouldn't solve the problem of nobody eating them.

Even though she is in Florida today, she told me that back home in Dayton there is something like 6 inches of snow on the ground. She's not looking forward to going back.

Anyway, to the photos! I have a little progress evident. The Gardener's Delight tomatoes are starting to grow their first set of real leaves, the large red cherries are starting to bud theirs. Beans are also growing their first set of leaves. I have some marigolds on the way while the nasturtiums and petunias are barely peeking above the soil.

Tomatoes! w00t.

Genovese, sweet, and cinnamon basil on the way. They're doing pretty well-- you can just see their first real leaves starting to bud.

Beans! The cotyledons seem to be drying at the edges and dying, but the real leaves that are sprouting seem fine. I won't worry unless the real leaves look bad, too.

Radishes! Growing like weeds. I may have to thin them out soon.

These are French marigolds of some sort I think-- too lazy to run down and check. They also seem to be doing well and will need thinning out soon.

Dill and mystery plants on a roll still!

Sunflowers grow amazingly fast. I'm surprised. This picture reminds me that I need to move them to a different window.

And now for the outside guys--

Peas! They seem happy. Happy peas. Peas and happiness? Love and peas!

Buckets of basils, spinach, and mustard. I should thin the mustards.

Boxes 'o brassicas. I have cauliflower, broccoli, and turnips there. They probably don't enjoy the small boxes but they will do until I can find something deeper to house them all. I doubt that I will keep this many to grow to full size, but I know that their shoots are good eatin'.

Boxes 'o beets! They are not happy to be there! They didn't do so well on the move, as is evidenced in this next photo.

Mowr. Lying down on the job, poor things. I just hope I can sort of keep them alive-- I love beets. If anything else I'll just eat the shoots.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I so wish that I had graph paper.

Anyway, I've been busily drawing, redrawing, and redrawing again and again plans for the garden setup. I need to get started soon because I want a little time for the lasagna to bake, so to speak, before I lay down my babies.

Anyway, the plan is going to be something like this:

This will be along the house on the south side. Since I need to construct trellises or teepees, I figure that having the extra support of the wall will help immensely.
-Bush beans
-Pole beans

This will be a corner piece connecting the tomato and bean beds.

I will have two beds devoted to tomatoes and their associated herbs. I really like tomatoes.
-Bee balm

Marigolds, petunias, alyssum, and nasturtiums will be planted throughout and around the beds. Debating on getting lovage and borage (I have heard horror stories about the prolific self-seeding action of borage), but their names are so cool that I can't resist them.

I have yet to figure out this little factoid: poles beans do not like sunflowers, yet bush beans do. Why is this? This makes me wish that I had labeled my beans better because I have tendergreen pole beans and Blue Lake bush beans mixed up. Dammit.

I also have to decide what I am going to do about substrates. I live near craptons of farms and feed stores, but I do not have a car and my boyfriend has a very small sporty thing that isn't meant even for passengers, much less hay and manure. Quite a quandary! I wonder if farmers or stable owners will haul off their wastes and deliver it to my house, or if they expect that anyone who delivers them from their poo must have burly arms and a pickup truck to grab it themselves. I suppose Craigslist could help in that respect. I just want old hay and veggie poop. That's all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Today I haven't felt like doing anything. Somehow both ennui and disinterest have hit me, which is a little odd considering that it's absolutely gorgeous outside at the moment.

Part of this malaise is the fact that everything that I want to start seeding that is currently in my collection is in a container of some sort. I have an itching to go out and buy more seeds, but considering that I haven't gotten a final garden layout drawn yet that seems a bit silly.

I do really want to get some more companion flowers, like lovage, borage, and four-o-clocks. I really want strawberries, but I wonder if they would totally die in the upcoming heat. There are a couple of veggies that I absolutely NEED to grow-- kyuri of any kind (Japanese cucumbers) and red noodle yard long beans.

Kyuri are the BEST BEST BEST cucumbers known to man. Every other cucumber is worse than inferior compared to these guys. 3/$1 in Japan, 5/$1 on a good day. I seriously should have smuggled seeds out of the country.

ARE THESE NOT THE COOLEST LOOKING BEANS EVER. I MEAN SERIOUSLY. I love snap and long beans of all kinds, and the red noodle yard longs look so incredibly GORGEOUS. I just want to cover the entire side of the house and fence with these guys. I can just see the kids coming off the bus and picking the beans for the hell of it and I wouldn't blame them.

Sigh. Back to reality-- I just hope that my seedlings survive the next couple weeks. That is my goal.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


February brought so much promise of nice, tepid weather in the forecast but lately it's been nothing but cold cold cold! I mean, it got into the 80s and 90s a couple weeks ago, but starting last week it dropped right back down into the 30-60 range. Sigh!

I guess some cloches should be in the plan ahead...

Monday, March 3, 2008


So things were looking up! up! up! since my last post. And oh my, life was amazing if you were a tiny seedling in my garden. Oh my yes-- mama put all her toddlers out on the back patio a few days ago and they were all as happy as could be, basking in the radiant (but not too intense!) sunshine at temperatures in the mid-70s. Quite amazing.

And then last night the thunderstorm rolled in. Of course I knew it was coming, so I hid my babies on a fairly sheltered part of the patio. Temperatures dropped into the 40s, which wasn't too horrible (except maybe for the peppers-- eek) but it was the wind that got around and grabbed one of my beans and broke his arm.

He was my biggest one. I guess it doesn't always pay off to be the tallest of the pack. Luckily, he was the only one to sustain any apparent injuries.

All the tomato babies are doing great, I have some peppers sprouting, the peas have almost all popped up, and I FINALLY have a couple chives poking through. Still no sign of lavender, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, or parsley. I wonder if they have died-- I'm debating tossing them out and starting over.

I've also got some mystery shoots going. Some cups I didn't label since I would label only the first of each row, leaving the other 2 or 3 to be implicitly assumed, but with the tumult of moving sprouters away from non-sprouters and, er, dropping the carrying boxes, I have some things popping up that I have no idea what the heck they are.

I hope hope hope that these two are peppers. I don't want any more cherry tomatoes.

These? No frigging clue. At all. They got lost in my dirt pile when I did some re-potting, and I found them sprouting on their own. We'll see what they become.

I did a bunch of repotting today. The peas got put into colanders and thrown outside where it is cool and they will be happy. I crammed the large beans into a tub because I need their cups to house newly sprouting beans AND the large ones need a heavier anchor against the wind, should they get attacked again-- although none got felled last night I don't want to have to deal with it later. Anyway, the ones in the tub will be repotted into larger individual pots very soon. Some might remain as patio plants and some will be put into the ground when the garden comes around. Let's hope that they all survive that long. The dill got upgraded from egg carton cells to a festive $2 Target holiday tin. Random radishes that spontaneously appeared in random pots got housed next to the flat of lettuce and spinach.

Happy dill in a cute green snowflake tin.

Baby marigolds! Huzzah!


A couple of my sunflowers still like their little hats. I personally think they look silly-- lefty agrees.

Radishes that will eventually be allowed to turn into radishes, and not just baby greens salad.

Tomatoes and basils looking good! Oregano has a lot of catching up to do.

Okra, melons, squashes, tomatoes, peppers, basils, and random flower friends for the veggies.

I left my cilantro and Brassicas outside because I figured they'd like the cold. At least that is what I keep reading about them. Spinach, lettuce, beets, and some random basils accompany.

And finally, my peas. Don't they look happy?

I should also mention that my neighbor gave me a crapton of seeds from her own garden, including bitter melon, cilantro, beans, okra, and random squashes. I don't exactly know what squashes she gave me, except for the bitter melon, but the seeds are awesome-looking.

They are all planted in my "Mystery melons" carton. I am excited to see what pops up.

The day is cold and yucky and it would seem that the rest of the week will be pretty much the same. I am just glad that I have lots of windows in the house on all sides to stash the indoor lurkers.