Friday, February 27, 2009

im going to talk about gardening even though it's february

the two days preceding this dark, rainy one hinted strongly that spring is just around the corner. i drove the kids to the park and on the way there the sun was shining and the breeze was light and i just got the garden fever and there is no turning back now. i think part of it is all of this garden research ive been doing the last two weeks or so for the articles im writing but the weather sure isnt helping this itch either. as some of you know we share a garden space with our friends maggie and austin. we live in an apartment and aren't allowed to put hoe to ground here, though i am able to plant flowers in established beds and container garden all i want. but they have a very nice plot that is over 1000 sq/ft with some established raspberry bushes (you've never tasted raspberries until you've had them straight out of an organic garden. serrrriously) not to mention the couple who sold them their house worked the soil for a good 40 years and it is rich and well aerated and i feel spoiled that i get to work in it. there's nothing like throwing my leg over the side of the compost bin and going to town with a pitchfork. (remind me of how excited i am about this when it's ripping hot this summer and i'm complaining okay?) last year we had some major successes and a few failures. despite our best efforts and planning no spinach would grow. like not one full head and we planted it in two different places in the garden in maybe two parallel 6 foot rows. mysterious is one word i would use, maddening would be another. spinach is so tasty and good for you and gah! i was ready to rip out my hair. but our salad garden was a big success too - we had heads of lettuce that i must say were a great source of pride. like they looked like you could have gotten them straight out of the store! then we planted a big section of a leaf lettuce mix that was equally successful and delicious. the biggest thumbs up was the bush beans. for the life of me i cannot remember exactly what variety we planted but i really wish i could because they were perfect and delicious. through my research i realized that we dug them out too quickly. bush beans stop producing when it's really hot but start up again when the heat wanes. whoops. oh another epic fail - i killed the cucumber by uprooting it while weeding. i profusely apologize to both families for denying us all the cucumber we only briefly enjoyed. ok so maggie and austin came over a few weeks ago and the four of us planned the garden for 2009. the list is:

leaf & head lettuces (increasing these from last year)
corn salad
bush beans (increasing from last year)
cucumber (which i will not kill)
spinach (which WILL grow if it kills me)
broccoli (adding many many more)
banana pepper
sweet pepper
jalapeno pepper
strawberries (established)
raspberries (established)
blueberries (established)
herbs are going to be grown in pots

i'd like to start planting some more bee attracting plants near the garden. i have no idea what is there now but some of the space around it we just did nothing with and it went buck nutty so i think the plan is to just till up the beds and start over or even incorporate some more space to edibles. you know, because 1000 sq/ft isnt enough! haha. i have some lavender germinating downstairs. i love how that stuff smells. here are some other plants that attract bees that i like

sunflowers (we planted these last year but they took up too much space and we didnt even harvest them so they are nixed)
sweet william


mandi said...

i have some faves to add to the bee list: bee balm, borage and my all time favorite...zinnias! iknow, i know, it was a list of YOUR favorites, but i had to pipe in!

jenny mae. said...

yes bee balm is beautiful! i shouldnt discount the pollination that butterflies can do too i guess. there are many beautiful butterfly attracting flowers and bushes too that i like. my favorite flower (though not particularly bee/butterfly attracting is cosmos. love those to pieces.

Kristin said...

Cosmos are one of my favorites, too. Cosmos and Daffodils. I have to admit that I am scared of gardening- there is just soooo much to know, and so many variables. But I've been inspired to get started, and down here in Texas it's time. I think this weekend we are going to make some meager attempts. I admire your garden endeavors, and just LOVE that you garden with another couple. That is awesome! :)

jenny mae. said...

there is a lot less than you think. gardening is a learning process. i mean dig a trench, throw down some seed and water, and BAM i bet you get something. i say just give it a shot. even a small yield is saving money, getting you out into nature, and providing healthier, sustainable food for your family. and all for the price of a tiny seed packet.

Happy Hippie said...

I also have been thinking about veg and plant gardening. The weather has been begging me to do so. Love it! You garden list looks great! Do you have any books you recommend? I prefer to garden organic and last year my garden was hit and miss. :( I've moved to a new place, so who knows how it will be this year.
As for bee attracting plant, Lythrum is a great one. It smells nice, humming birds like it and bees love it! It is a tough perenial. I have an heirloom of it. It has been in my family,I believer,for 4 generations. If you would like some, I can always give it to Michelle to give to you or something like that. It's one of my favorites and it smells so lovely. It blooms all summer long and tolerats all types of weather well. It isn't prone to poweder mold either. It does love full sun, but can grow in part shade.

jenny mae. said...

we only use organic gardening methods. wouldnt have it any other way. and i am ALWAYS up for free, new plants!

book recommendations:
you grow girl
botanica's organic gardening
new kitchen garden

Abby said...

There is great information on what to plant and when in the book Square Foot Gardening. It has some information about spinach planting, too, and he's all about organic methods.

Anonymous said...

YEY FOR GARDENING! My husband has taken the reins in planning the garden this year. There are seed catalogs and veggie gardening books all over. I love it!

If you are looking for the perfect book you must get "the vegetable gardener's bible" (that is, if you don't have it already)

Not only does this book have how to plant, compost, pests, what to look for when buying seeds, but a section on "homemade pest and disease control remedies!"

rachaeldear said...

ugh i have the fever too. my friend natalee went ahead and started her seedlings and even though i think it might be a touch early, i immediately wanted to start as well. i even went to the co-op to buy seeds today but they were closed :(
about spinach- i couldnt get mine to grow last year either and i believe i read somewhere that it had to do with the timing- from what i've gathered, spinach grows EARLY. im going to try to get a plant in real early this year and see what happens.
also, have you had any issues with rabbits? we used chicken wire last time but id prefer not to if possible...
i feel like i cant shut up about gardening!

jenny mae. said...

justme - yes i have some all natural pest control methods/recipes for sprays. if anyone wants any let me know

rachael - depending on the seedling it would be fine to start them now. really, as long as you have pots big enough to contain them as they grow before you transplant, there are no disadvantages to starting seedlings whenever you want. itll make for an earlier harvest. regarding rabbits, we did have a little problem with them nibbling our lettuces but not enough for us to do much about it. rabbits hate the smell of garlic so try this recipe and spray it all around the plants they are gobbling up. this needs to be reapplied every so often to maintain the smell

Gather 1-2 heads of garlic (mixed with other strongly scented herbs for multi-pest use like mint, cayenne, onions, ginger, horseradish, etc) and boil them with enough water to cover. then let the mixture sit overnight. the longer the better. then strain it out and put it into a spray bottle.