Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gardening: Plotting and Planning

  • The six-foot-wide, sixty-foot-long row that only gets automatically watered on the right-hand two feet and that I can't reach the middle of, isn't a good place for bush beans.
  • However, it seems like a perfect place, next year, for vining winter squash. And pumpkins. I can plant the seeds on the wet two feet and let the plants sprawl over the dry four feet. And I'll only have to struggle and stretch to get the finished squashes, not strain my back picking beans every four days.
  • Of course, that assumes that the squash can get along with only two feet of irrigated root zone.
  • Also, that's a lot of squash. Maybe melons, too?
  • Or tepary beans. They're harvested dry, which avoids the every-four-days thing, and sources claim that if you plant them immediately after the monsoons, they'll grow the rest of their lifecycle with no added water. OK, yes, we don't have monsoons; that's when they're at home. But we do have a wet winter.
  • Tulips don't like to be watered, either. I've ordered an alarming number of tulips. They might be too many for their allotted space in the cutting row. But would the tulips' proximity to the irrigated two feet give them too much water?
  • On the other hand, a sixty-by-six unbroken expanse of cucurbit vines sounds cool. I think I'm going to stick with the squashes and pumpkins and melons.
  • And no cucumbers. They not only need to be picked every four days, they hide. With malicious intent. My back can't take that.
  • That is all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gardening: The Cutting Row

So, we've declared that one of the long rows in The Farm will be devoted to cutting flowers. That's eighty feet by four feet of space, all of it with at least half day sun.


I've already started planting perennials. Two each of a few kinds of Japanese anemones, including Honorine Jobert, my favorite. I'd tell you what the others are, but, um, I forget. I'll have to make a note when I get out there.

Two plants each of a single-flowered and a double-flowered coreopsis. (Cultivars, you ask? I avert my eyes and promise to go make that note, too.) Two Magnus coneflowers. Two black-eyed Susan plants. Eight assorted columbine. In case you're wondering what the unifying theme is, it's that I went to the Grange and bought two of every plant that (1) I like, that (2) wasn't rootbound, and that (3) at least one source claimed was suitable for cutting. Not exactly systematic, but there was bare space out there!

I also bought some unsatisfyingly short things - squat little dahlias and, even worse, squat little sunflowers. I refuse to buy the sad, short cosmos seedlings. Why won't nurseries sell the tall ones? I suppose it's because people who aren't me like "bedding" annuals. Plus, people like to buy annuals that are already blooming, and it's hard to get a blooming four-foot-tall soft plant home without breaking it in half. So if I want the tall stuff, I have to seed it myself. This year I seeded Art Deco zinnias and Double Click cosmos, with delightful results; I'll repeat both next year, plus more kinds of  cosmos and zinnias, plus sunflowers.

I'm busily hunting online nurseries for more perennials. Vintage Gardens is going away in 2013 (noooo!), so I'm making lists of roses and possibly hydrangeas to buy from them--and Himself and I are discussing the possibility of devoting another long row just to roses. And every year I regret my failure to plant dahlias and chrysanthemums, so I plan to finally correct that error, though I haven't begun to narrow down the hundreds of options. I like the whacky ones that look like they need to comb their hair, or they're ready to blast off for Alpha Centauri, or they're waiting for you to get a little closer so that they can shoot spores in your face. That kind.

Then there are bulbs. Tulips, of course. At six inches between bulbs and a four-foot-wide row, that's sixteen bulbs per linear foot of row. That's a lot of bulbs, and enough space to offer at least a chance that they'll come back next year.



My brain just stopped. Maybe those short squat little dahlias successfully aimed their spores.

First vase photo: By trish. Wikimedia Commons.
Second vase photo: By Patrick.Charpiat. Wikimedia Commons.
Third vase photo: By David Palterer. Wikimedia Commons.
Dahilia photo: By Vulkan. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gardening: Random Randomness

  • I cut my first winter squash today. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is; the pencil-written wooden tag was rubbed off by the time I thought to make a note, and the woman who sold it to me and said that it tasted like chestnuts wasn't at the next farmer's market. I know that it covers an amazing amount of ground and produces an amazing number of squashes, for a single plant. And the squashes look rather like pictures of white acorn squash, though they turn a slightly darker tan when they ripen.
  • A friend ate one of the Delicata Honey Boat squashes at the summer squash stage, and said that it was good and sweet. I've rarely eaten a summer squash that didn't taste like water. Maybe I should start eating immature winter squashes instead.
  • I planted three kinds of squash and no pumpkins. What's with that? I'll correct it next year.
  • I cut a zinnia and put it in a vase. Two weeks later, it was still alive. This is both good and a little bit frightening.
  • There are unidentified round fruits on one of the plants in the cucumber patch. I still don't know if they're cucumbers, melons, or alien pods. 
  • I still haven't eaten a sunflower bud. This was one of my big planned experiments this year, but I slacked off. If I don't get moving, all the sunflower buds are going to flower.
  • Apparently, I sold about half of my vegetable gardening books to the used book store when I resigned myself to a small garden space. Now I need to decide which ones to re-buy. But I'm more pleased with myself for having done the decluttering than I am annoyed with my errors.
  • The two watermelons in the garden are each only slightly larger than a softball. Next year I'm going to try Blacktail Mountain watermelon, if I can get the seeds. I read about it in Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties; it's supposed to successfully ripen melons in cooler and higher parts of Oregon than I live in. I think.
  • This is the first time in months that I didn't have a sad, reproachful cluster of plants in pots huddled around the hose bibb waiting to be planted; a friend and I got the last of them in the ground this morning. Of course, I'll buy more any minute now.
  • There's a volunteer petunia in the corn. That's just weird.
  • Speaking of the corn, the main corn crop is ready to eat! We're in the middle of the generosity/gluttony dance where we want to give lots away to keep it from going to waste, and want to keep it to make sure we don't give away so much that we can't eat ourselves silly.
  • I know that corn is supposed to have lots of genetic diversity, but does that extend to pure white kernels and corny yellow kernels on different ears that came from the seed packet? The silk colors were very different, too. Is this normal? And shouldn't the white and yellow be mixed in the same ear, depending on what fertilized what strand of cornsilk?
  • Is it wrong to plant tulips as annuals? I need to know!
  • Either way, it's time to order tulips. And to make sure that I ordered enough shallots and garlic and potato onions and Egyptian walking onions. And gopher wire. I read that without gopher wire, there will be no garlic whatsoever.