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!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Planting Day Part I

About half of the bed is filled in with seedlings now. While it was nice that the moisture cooled the air a bit, after the second rain of the day it went from pleasantly cool to uncomfortably chilly. I managed to plunk quite a bit of stuff into the ground before the sun went down.

The damage so far:
4 "Homestead" tomatoes
2 Green bell peppers
2 Yellow bell peppers
2 Red bell peppers
5 Cayenne peppers
5 Jalapeno peppers
6 Sweet banana peppers
3 Sweet basil
3 Greek oregano
1 Lavender

Sprinkled among them are marigolds. I'll be popping some other "companion" ornamentals in between the rows tomorrow, but for today I had to stop because it got so darned cold! It wasn't really just the temperature but also the shade that bothered me. Our house faces due west and the garden, which is to the rear and is thus east of the house, is completely shaded by about 5pm. The lack of sun warmth just chilled me so much that I abandoned any thought of last-minute seeding and opted instead to wander into the front yard where the boyfriend is starting a landscaping project of his own. We pulled up weeds and tore apart some old metal landscape framing left over from the previous homeowners. As the sun dipped below the houses across the street, we called it a night and headed indoors for some oven-fresh brownies. Mmmm :9

Tomorrow's schedule is to plot out where climbing stuff is going to go, if I can manage a root vegetable area, and if there is any way I can manage a pumpkin patch somewhere in the yard. I may also have to run out for some more soil amendments as I really have no idea what the state of my soils are. There is a fancy nursery near my house-- they may have some neat things to look at, as well. I'm all kinds of excited :D

The Best Time of Year

So today is Planting Day. Well, Planting Day, Part I. During a brief sojourn to the Home Depot we grabbed a couple more herbs (Sweet Basil, Lavender, Greek Oregano, Rosemary) and some marigolds to fill in the empty spaces while the veggies start to fill out. I also bought seeds since they were buy one, get one free and I am a sucker for seeding.

It couldn't be a better day. The sun is hiding behind clouds, it's been drizzling on and off and we had a nice cool rain last night and into the morning. It's currently 60 degrees and supposed to dip just below 40 tonight, which is exciting because that means I can spend all day outside today and tomorrow without dying of heat stroke. My transplantees got a nice little shower and the beds should be fairly moist. So very perfect!

Also, this is the most amazing blog ever for veggie gardeners. The how-to guides are so descriptive and informative, and the photos are just so beautiful and inspirational!

My companion is all about self-sufficiency and his aunt has a wonderful mini-victory garden of her own so I feel totally supported by everyone around me. I don't think I've ever been this excited about starting a garden, even when I had to start from scratch all on my own two years ago.

Okay, time to stop blogging and to get outside! Yay!

AMENDMENT (1:30ish):
So about an hour or so later and it started to rain for real-- no more of this light drizzle. So back indoors it is, and since I have some new seeds (and a shoebox full of old ones) I will start some seedlings. It's all very exciting. I love today so much :D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HOLY CRAP -- She remembered her password!

So, long story short I had to abandon ship halfway through the summer to house-sit in Dayton, Ohio. I discovered that my mother's gardening skills tended to stray from the aesthetic and wandered into the prolific. While I struggled to not kill stuff, all of the seeds and seedlings that I gave to my mother were producing so freaking much that she was annoyed that she had to harvest every single day. She literally had 2-3 pounds of tomatoes every morning that she would grumpily wash and put on the kitchen counter. Perhaps she was grumpy because I accidentally gave her *only* cherry tomatoes and she likes larger ones. Oops?

Ah, but the worst part about my mother's garden compared to mine-- while I had labored for weeks to dig, dig, dig, and collect soils and learn how to tie stakes and trellises and space things properly and companion plant and water first thing in the morning and amend the soil and identify pests and pull up weeds, she dug a 6x6 hole under her deck, mixed in some chicken manure, nailed chicken wire to the deck posts, and literally stuck seedlings in the ground and threw seeds around them. And her garden produced like crazy. And I am sure that mine just withered and died in the Texas summer with nobody to look after it. That might be unfair to say-- it was pretty much withered and dead even when I was meticulously caring for it.

Fast-forward a year and a half and I am now in Montgomery, Alabama and starting anew. This garden plot had existed when we got the house, but it was messy and overrun with briars. We started work last weekend pulling up the old broccoli bushes and clearing out the weeds. This weekend we cut up the soil a bit and mixed in some humus and manure so try to make it a more nutritious snack for the plants we're putting in. To be honest, getting this garden going was a bit of an afterthought as I've got inside projects to do as well, but oh my goodness it has been so sunny and warm lately that we've been itching to get outdoors.

Unlike last time, I didn't get around to mass seedings and I am definitely paying for it as buying seedlings isn't cheap. I do wish that I had the foresight to start my own-- doh! There are still tons of seeds from my last major endeavor two years ago that I am hoping to goodness are still viable. Montgomery has a long growing season so I figure that a late start is better than nothing at all. That will be a project for tomorrow.

Ah, and I am getting into edible bushes and trees, so we picked up two blueberries last weekend. I literally know nothing about fruiting trees and bushes so this will be a fun adventure. I don't think I'm supposed to expect fruit this year (or next year, or the next) so I think this will be more of a test of patience than anything else. Oh-- I also started a Ponderosa lemon from seed. Crossing my fingers to see if it makes a viable, fruiting tree!

So far this is what we have:
Jersey Blueberry
Northland (I think) Blueberry
Red, Green, and Yellow Bell Pepper
Jalepeno Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Sweet Banana Pepper
Some "heirloom" variety of tomato (can't recall what it was)
Lemon Balm

I am going to shove a lot more into the garden than I did the first time around. Seeing my mother's crowded, overgrown, and very tasty garden has convinced me that careful spacing is for the birds.

The Plan:
Tomatoes and Peppers
Basils, oregano, rosemary, lavender, and at least a couple other herbs
Pole beans and runner beans
Cucumbers, squash, and melons
Carrots and potatoes
Radishes, beets, and turnips
Lettuces, maybe
I also want to incorporate companion ornamentals, like marigolds, nasturtiums, and the like because I want it to be pretty. I might get into the strawberry thing, but fruit literally scares me. It seems so incredibly labor-intensive and attractive to too many pests, but we'll see. We'll see.

There is also going to be a little garden plot in the front, reserved for ornamentals. There are already some heirloom daffodils and today we got a bunch of tulips to add to it. My companion loves bulb flowers so I'll let him take care of that project. He is also going to make some kind of little retaining wall or something and plant a Japanese maple. That excites me.

Oh my GOD and have you ever smelled a tea olive? He introduced me to those-- they are RIDICULOUS. And we are going to cover our yard in them.

I will post the last pictures I have of my old garden, pictures of my mom's sprawling mass of tomato vines, and of this blank canvas that will be turned into a masterpiece (or slaughterhouse-- whichever!)

Oh also-- WHAT IS WITH THE CLAY SOIL. OH MY GOD. I can make pottery with this stuff. Yikes.

So what have you been up to? :D