Hey Self: Wenke Wink

Sometimes, I’m a little too Dutch frugal for my own good. Or for the good of my garden, for that matter.

hurricane plantsBack in May, when the lovely gentleman from the Gardens of Babylon dropped off $10-$15 worth of starts (from hometown nursery back in Southwest Michigan, Wenke’s) along with the shipment of soil, my little transplanted East Nashvillian (and admittedly cheapskate) heart skipped a beat.  I felt like I’d won a kismet lottery: free veggies! From Kalamazoo to Nashville! Clearly it was meant to be.

No, the corn wasn’t the variety I’d hoped to plant, nor were the 0623_dillcaterpillarcucumbers and peppers. Dill? Who needs dill? Oh, what the heck, I’ll find room. Lemongrass? Hmm, that could be useful. At any rate, the three bush cucumbers would only take up one measly square each and, so really, what could go wrong?

Well, those “bush cucumbers” weren’t really bush and two of them weren’t really cucumbers at all. Like I said, who needs dill? The bottleneck gourd is long gone, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull perfectly healthy Athena muskmelons (Gah! Dutch strikes again.) And now, it’s far too late. The garden belongs to them.

PLANTS ON DECK 2015: Hey Self, revised and updated

0623_mrstripeyMr. Stripey tomato (1 plant/2 sf)

  • As of 6/23 the plants look pretty good (some yellowing along the bottom) and we have some blooms, but no fruits
  • Since mid-May he’s been fertilized, organically, twice a month
  • The two Mr. S’s planted along the south lawn are growing similarly.

Roma Tomato and Red Cherry (front of house, planted 4/25)roma tomato

  • They are just starting to go gangbusters; however, I’m a little worried that as the days grow shorter (morning sun only — in shade by 1:00 at summer solstice), their fruits will be cut short
  • Plant more yellow cherry and pear tomatoes

bush zucchini (3 plants/4 sf)bush zucchini

  • I love these guys! And so does the Hurricane. Looks like we have a new veggie vying for green bean’s top spot
  • Their location, in the south west corner, works well and although they’re cheating into the neighboring square a little, 3 plants/4 sf appear to be working thus far
  • Plant more

basil (4 plants/1 sf)

  • I mean, it’s cool to have basil leaves the size of your hand, but giant basil it is so not our favorite. It’s pretty and yes, gigantic, but it doesn’t pack the punch we like our basil to deliver
  • These got squashed in the first row, SW quadrant, between the tomato and the bush cucumber that isn’t, so lack of sun is slowing them down
  • Several were planted at the front of the house and have been transplanted to the herb garden where there is more sun.
  • Plant more, plant differently.

marigolds (8 plants/2 sf):

  • These French dwarfs didn’t stand a chance. Next year big, tall African marigolds need to keep the tomatoes company
  • Plant more flowers, not just marigolds. Need butterflies and bees

bush cucumber (3 plants/3 sf 1 mystery, full-size)

  • It is impossible to plant too crazed cucumbermany cucumbers — the Hurricane will eat them the day they ripen.
  • Yes, Endurer, you said this in April and again in May. When I thought I had planted three Spacemasters
  • I did not
  • Fortunately, rather than pitch any, I planted three along the south side of the house. (Go D-team!)
  • Plant more — bush varieties for the raised bed and trailing varieties for the south wall.

chard [seed] (16-24ish/2 sf)0623_eatenchard

  • Figure out what’s eating the chard — it’s not us and diatomaceous earth ain’t doing much
  • Designate one bed to be planted largely with spring vegetables and stick lotsa’ chard and spinach in it
  • This year I staggered the seeds —  8 plants maturing at one time is not sufficient, 16 should do the trick
  • Plant more

romaine lettuce (4 plants/1 sf)

  • These were terrific!steak caesar
  • We enjoyed the outer leaves on sandwiches for weeks and the grand finale — featuring Porter Road Butcher’s steak — Caesar was sublime
  • They are done and gone by early/mid June
  • Planted in the third row, these were sheltered in the front by the crazed cucumber and in the back by towering Silver Queen. An excellent location, actually. By the time they had finished, the zucchini, creeping cucurbit, and sprawling Purple Royalty were happy to take over the real estate.
  • Plant more (both in the spring bed and in the summer bed as described above)

butter leaf lettuce (4 plants/1 sf)

  • Meh
  • Plant more heat-tolerant varieties

purple royalty bush beans [seeds] (18/3 sf)0623_purpleroyalty

  • That staggered planting thing? Well, it’s a good idea in theory, but in this house, we need at least 18 plants/3 SF  sowed at the same time to yield enough for a meal
  • I thought that bush beans were pretty compact, it turns out they’re not. Not really. These princes have sprawled over the end of the bed, broken in the wind and choked out the peppers
  • Plant more, do not plant in the front row; try the second/third rows

Kentucky Wonder pole beans [seeds] ) (12/2 sf)Kentucky Wonder

  • Too soon to tell, but they have shot right off the ends of their 4′ poles and are smothering the 6’+ Silver Queen
  • Plant in the back row!

red bell pepper (3 plants/3sf)

Silver Queen corn (12 plants/4 sf)

  • It’s too soon to say
  • Consider planting along the chain-link fence?

muskmelon 2 4 plants/4 sf):athena cantelope

  • Oops
  • NE corner seems to be a great location
  • One musk melon should do the trick

Making a List, Part II

4x8 raised bed planThe good folks at Gardens of Babylon were kind enough to deliver a couple of yards a dirt, shovel them directly into the completed bed, remove a hunk of concrete from the yard, offer gardening advice, recommend local businesses, and donate a few abandoned cucumber, corn, pepper, and dill starts to the cause. After 10 years of gardening, POD finally has a garden center crush.

How to use this new-found space and garden center bounty was another challenge altogether. Having spent the icy winter locked in an apartment in West Nashville, you’d think that hours of methodical research and careful planning would have already been conducted. But no. There were houses to sell and buy, boxes to unpack and pack again, a Hurricane to tend to, a whole new city to navigate, unhappy cats to wrangle, and massive amounts of fretting to be done.

imageAlthough it’s embarrassing and utterly unlike most posts on this blog, a quick Google image search for “square foot garden” is about all the research that went into this one. Reports seem to vary on the amount of space needed per plant per square foot — and the most useful graphic from Territoral Seeds seems a little tight — so POD attempted to play it both safe (allowing two square feet for the tomato and a full square foot per cucumber, for example) and try to cram as much as possible into the inaugural bed.

imageSo here’s the list, followed by plants per square foot:

Mr. Stripey tomato (1 plant/2 sf)
bush zucchini (3 plants/4 sf)
basil (4 plants/1 sf)
marigolds (8 plants/2 sf)
bush cucumber (3 plants/3 sf)
chard [seed] (16-24ish/2 sf)
romaine lettuce (4 plants/1 sf)
butter leaf lettuce (4 plants/1 sf)
purple bush beans [seeds] (18/3 sf)
red bell pepper (3 plants/3sf)
corn (12 plants/4 sf)
melon 2 plants/4 sf)
Kentucky Wonder pole beans [seeds] ) (12/2 sf)

Planted in Lockeland Springs, East Nashville, Saturday, May 9.

Making a List: Part I

raised bed gardenThe only containers may be full of geraniums this year, but that does’t mean POD has been taking it easy. We’re yanking weeks, tossing grubs to the birds, scything the lawn, sweating, and working on almighty red necks and farmers tans. Happily, the Endurer was kind enough to wrap up a marathon moving weekend by hacking together the first of many raised beds.

In the end, POD’s two-bed shopping list looked like this: 12 1x8x8 cedar (no chemical treatments and, we hope, fairly weather-resistant) boards, 8 5′ rods of electrical conduit (inexpensive supports for the 8′ sides), 16 2″corner brackets, and two cubic yards of dirt. Although the wallet was about $400 lighter, one hopes that unlike container gardening of yore, this will be a investment that pays off in no time.

All of this set the stage for this gardener to enjoy her Mother’s Day weekend by doing a little digging. Which ended up being a lot of digging, but that’s another story for another time.

Grill, Compost, and Kiddie Pool

Done, done, and done.

Thanks to Metro Nashville’s awesome recycling program, POD is the proud owner of an 80-gallon Good Earth compost bin. Is it completely ridiculous that the compost was in place before the boxes had been unpacked? Is it completely insane that a backyard compost machine makes this gardener just as happy as the ridiculously expensive washer and dryer?

backyard plansAnd with any luck, Gardens of Babylon will dump a cubic yard of dirt in the yard Friday.

We’re starting small this summer, with one 4×8 bed, but as you can see, there are big plans for the future.

Can’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day weekend.