22 May 2011

Gardening before the heat...

Boy!  As busy as I am with this new job, I'm not really able to find time to blog these days!

Things have been good and busy and I've been around the country since I last blogged.  I've been to NY, DC, Chicago, San Diego, LA, Williamsburg and am currently preparing for my first trip to Atlanta.  Whew.

Also, since I last blogged, and since my last post about my gardens and plants, I've had great successes with my garden.  When my mom visited in March, she helped me build and assemble an additional raised bed.  I now have 5 raised beds, one of which is currently unused.  I abandoned it once I realized how much work rehabing my beds from last year was.  They were inundated with roots from the tree behind the house, so I had to spend hours hand sorting through that and pulling out the matted clumps of roots.  This weekend, hopefully, I'll have some time to sort through that unused bed...before the heat gets really bad.  We've had incredibly mild temperatures, but it's going to be in the 90s all this coming week.

I now have a ton of sugar snap peas, 10 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants (both sweet and hot - mostly hot),  a purple tomatillo (thanks to my neighbor), 3 eggplant plants, 5 or 6 basil plants, 2 borage plants, a handful of cucumber plants and one single patty pan squash plant.  To remedy the loneliness of my squash, I planted some additional squash seeds this morning.  It's a little late in the season, but I'm hoping that it will work.  In an additional pot, I have a sunflower paired with some vining malabar spinach.  On my deck, I have last year's strawberries - which are going gangbusters.  Also on the deck, several smaller pots - 1) mint and chocolate mint, 2) hot pepper, chives, radishes, 3) mild decorative edible pepper, chives and basil.  It's all looking pretty great.

The newest raised bed seems to have the healthiest plants.  Three tomatoes in that bed are taller than I am - and I'm 5'10".  I've also started getting little tomatoes and little peppers.  Of course, everything has had blooms on it for a good long while, but not all of them have set to fruit.

Top row, left to right: pots on deck with peppers, chives, basil, and mint; hot peppers on stairs; vining spinach and sunflower sprout; borage.
Left side: clematis; eggplants.
Middle: strawberries.

Right side: yarrow; baby tomatoes. 
Bottom row: coleus in front beds; jasmine and catmint next to blueberry bush; new raised bed with 5 tomatoes and 5 peppers; raised bed with 4 tomatoes, 4 peppers and basil.

As if tending to all of that weren't enough, I've also forced the bearded giant to help me at the worst possible task ever - digging up the entire back yard.  Between Ellie running all over the yard and peeing back there, the grass was only half alive anyway.  The actual soil content was pretty terrible - red clay with a lot of rocks.  So, slowly, one patch at a time, the giant and I are digging up chunks of the back yard, and amending them with compost and sphagnum moss.  And then reseeding.  It seems to be working pretty well.  The sections of lawn that were done a month ago look great.  In fact, with the crazy rain that we've been getting, even the grass that was planted fairly recently is looking lush and healthy.  And, amazingly, it does seem like the yard is draining a little bit better, which was also a concern.

Of course, I'd like to spend each evening relaxing at home and just counting my tomatoes before they've hatched, but I don't have time for that.  I've been all over the map in the last few years about grad school, but as I continue to get older and my job continues to allow me the opportunity to meet many interesting people with varied professions and backgrounds, I continue to want to go back to school.  I've put together a bit of a set of exercises for myself to help keep me thinking about what I want to be when I grow up and how I'm going to get there.

And lastly, on the relationship front, in the interest of full disclosure, I must inform you that the bearded giant is no longer an accurate nickname.  However, I do not intend to change it.  The giant has modified the facial hair, but goateed giant just doesn't sound as good.

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