Thursday, January 22, 2009

Garden dreaming

Infirmary Duty continues today. Annie-7 is well enough to sit up, but she hasn't left the sofa much, even today, after several doses of her antibiotics.

Her main complaint has moved from the sore throat to the itchy strep rash, to the hives, and now to the worst of all: the dreaded strawberry tongue. Does that not look painful?? Bless her little heart! She's been a trooper.

Since she can watch an entire episode of The Flintstones without calling, "MOMMY, come sit with me!" I decided to take a look at my garden situation.

It helps that it's 78 degrees here today. Ah, did I mention I love Texas? If I look out on my yard, I can see a hint of green coming through patches of brown grass. I feel my gardening soul start to pulse, and I begin dreaming of the beauty that is to come. (And I'd better hurry, because tomorrow it might be snowing!)

Here's what' I'm working on:

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.

The previous owners of this house must have been pretty good gardeners, because they set up two raised beds, which, in theory, should make me so excited. However, both of them have lain - weed-laden - for a very, very long time. Years, I bet. Everything is falling down or falling apart, and the soil looks more like a lawn.

But I'm determined to try my hand at growing something besides renegade canteloupe. Hey, I'm needing some serious grocery budget help! Surely I can turn my attention from growing landscape plants to growing food plants. And canning can't be that hard, right?

So today I took my electric hedge trimmers and whacked down what looked like old tomato and pepper plants, and tons of sinewy grass.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that it looks like there is nice soil under the mass of grass roots. As a bonus, there were several soaker hoses under there, in addition to the new weeds, which had been multiplying unchecked under the old, tall weeds.

There are some small leaves that looked like spinach (could that be possible?) and some teensy ones that look like carrot seedlings. I HATE the fact that I don't know what is what in the vegetable gardening world. I have so many questions! I need to befriend my neighbors down the road, whose perfectly prepared garden has sat, patiently awaiting spring, weedless.

In the meantime, I'm going to recklessly till it all. Seed is cheap.

There is a large fenced area around the raised beds (total area is probably 24X48 feet). Good thinking for here in Small Town. The first day we were here, Jack our cat caught a teeny mouse baby in there ("Peep!" it cried so pitifully from under his huge paw), and we have plenty of other vermin who would love to eat from the sweat of my brow. Let's keep them out, Jack. Good boy, just stay away from the skunk.
If I can borrow or rent a big tiller to break up the "lawn" around the bed areas, I think I could plant some big stuff like corn in them. Wouldn't I look like a real farmer then?

I should be able to till the raised beds with my little weed-eater tiller attachment. I wonder what other power tools I could use on this project? Exciting thought.

For now, though, for my spring garden, I want to plant snow peas, beets, leaf lettuce, spinach and carrots. Hopefully I can get some Man Help to get the beds prepped and get the first seeds down in the next couple of weeks. I am disappointed at how weak I am after less than two cartoons' worth of manual labor with power tools (is that an oxymoron?). So much for that gym membership.

But seeing things grow should make me feel strong, and maybe by the time the first harvest comes, I might be able to figure out how to can and freeze. Then wouldn't I look like a real farmer's wife?

So I have that going for me.

Any and all tips would be gladly accepted.

Will keep you posted!


secondofwett said...

78 degrees! lucky duck! Today we got to 0 celcius, tommorow +2...and Saturday it's suppose to be -15!!!! Don't you wish you lived in Canada!?

Maureen said...

Ok, I am still stuck on the 78 degrees part of your post, yea yea you will have a great garden. Did you say 78 degrees?? Honey, forget Sunny Florida, we are heading to Texas!
Here in the Sunshine state we have been freezing our buns off. Yesterday the low in my town was in the high 20's and the high was in the low 50's. Only a tiny bit better today.

Anyhow, I have absolutely no advice for the gardening. My yard is the pits and I have never grown anything worth eating. I wish I did but my thumb is not green. That is why we do not live in one of those neighborhoods where you must keep up landscaping according to your neighborhood rules. Nope, we live in an older neighborhood where you can plant whatever you want, when you want or plant nothing at all. We have chosen the latter.


Mommahen said...

Oh I so wish I was a gardener. My mom has this amazing green thumb that can grow ANYTHING--even without fertilizer. Me...I have a black thumb. In fact when plants see me coming they screech in horor. I'm like the grim reaper of plants. But I do so love looking at them.

And it was 79 here yesterday! Today is supposed to be 70! Makes me long for summer.

Hope Annie gets better soon. I've heard of the strep rash, but my guys have never experienced it. I can tell you about trench mouth though, or eczema herpeticum, or steven johnson's syndrome, OR MRSA. See...we don't get normal illnesses, or side effects, we get the FUN stuff! ;P

Ranelle said...

I can't get past the 78 degrees. It's finally in the upper 40s here, and we have windows cracked open! After being below zero for so long, it's like a heat wave!

Jen said...

we do a garden here. last year i planted tomatoes and okkra, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, sweet potatoes, and lettuce. we enjoyed every bit of it too. this year i'm cutting okra and adding more squash and going to try my hand at green beans....i look forward to seeing what you will plant.

Mothership said...

Oh, my dear. I am so sorry about the grass--it is the worst weed, in my opinion. I live in a very cold climate, so I am unfamiliar with planting times in Texas, but if you DO have time, skip the tilling and try to kill the weeds. You can do this organically by covering the planting area with black plastic or several layers of wet newspaper. It stifles the growth of the plant and turns it into it's own mulch. . . but only if it has time. I once planted a beautiful perennial garden right over a section of lawn by putting down newspaper, mulch, and peat moss. The next year, I could dig around the plants and find no sign of grass.

This is just one idea. There are libraries on the subject! Good luck and oh, those fresh tomatoes are worth it.

Nancy said...

I understand your desire but unfortunately dont have any land! But another blogger who deals with adoption also is a HUGE gardener. Try her blog at bodiebunch - she will inspire you beyond belief!

Jamie said...

Hope your little one is feeling better.

And please blog about all your gardening endeavors. I just started a little garden for the first time this last summer. I'm already looking forward to doing it again. I did some canning for the first time ever too and hoping to do more this year.

Les & Sweetie Berry said...

I love the imperfect above ground beds Madison and I have been doing the last four our rural country house in Arkansas the first year we planted corn in a 4 x 8 bed as well as one 4 x 8 of simply lots of sunflower varieties...front to back ..oh the joy those gave us when the weeding of the other beds game and how we loved the sunflowers as they stood tall over us....I am not a talented gardener but I do so love the miracles of watching them grow and getting my hands in the dirt...we're still in the 20's in Alabama...but already planning seedlings in February indoors with grow lights so we can get them out by April!
hugs hugs hugs!
P.S. I'm so proud for you figuring out your domain and for having it, its one of my goals as well!

Susanne said...

No tips from this black thumb.

So sorry Annie was sick. Wow, she really had it. While my kids have had strep throat, I can't say they ever got the rash, hives or strawberry tongue. I didn't even know of such a thing. Hope she's over it now.