Update with Pictures

It’s over 90 degrees here. The bees are so hot they’re bearding across the front and sides of their hive, and reaching to the back. One hive is strong–the other I don’t think will make it to winter, let alone through winter.

I was proud of how well our garden was growing until I saw a picture of a friend’s garden. A few months ago I gave them some pepper plants that are now heavy with peppers; our own are wilting and the leaves falling from the bottoms. I’m not sure why, but some 6 of the bell pepper plants are dying, the rest struggling.

Still, life goes on and things grow. Continue reading

Gardening as an Adult: Part 3 – The Beginning

I have so many things to write about and catch up on that I don’t know where to start. But for now, I want to close out the gardening as an adult thread. Not because I’m going to be any less adult or because I’m going to stop gardening, but because that’s it. I’m caught up. I’ve given you the extent of my solitary gardening experiences, unless you want to count the beans I planted in high school and placed in dark cabinets.

I didn’t think so.

In the three years that we’ve lived in this tiny little hillside house, this is how it’s been:

  • Year 1: We had just moved in and our garden was 50 miles away in another county. Even if we wanted to garden, the place was so overrun with pine trees that any plants would have died for lack of nutrients and sun. You could barely see the house, let alone the ground.

View from above. The legacy is a 5.2 pH level

  • Year 2: We were finally tearing down the trees. You could start to see the yard and that there was space to work with. We were pulling down the honeysuckle bushes going across the back fence and tore out some invasive bushes in the backyard by hooking them to the tow hitch on Mike’s truck. The worst part, though, was the water problems in the basement. This meant the careful landscaping was torn apart and the loosely tended azaleas in the front yard were dug out. But we needed a dry basement.
  • Year 3: We wanted a garden. We wanted to grow our own produce but started too late, so we bought 6 large pots and 6 small ones. We filled them with potting soil, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers. We watered them and tended to them. We yelled at Huck when he plucked strawberries off the vines and blueberries off the bushes. And then, all of a sudden, they died. Our garden was over and our lone apple tree provided us with 5 apples–the European hornets hollowed out the rest.

Late last year, or perhaps it was early this year, Mike and I were talking about where to put the garden. We could build a 10 x 10 area in the backyard and fence it off, he said. “But I can’t grow anything,” I said. “All those plants last year, they died. I can’t keep a plant alive.”

That’s when I learned that he got eager, wanted so very much to be sure they were healthy that he fertilized them. And he either fertilized them too soon or too often, but either way, they were burned. And as sad as it is to say, I was happy, because it wasn’t my fault. There was still a chance.

Early this year I learned more about heirloom tomatoes and about purchasing non-GMO foods where I could. And I learned of Baker Creek seeds, and once I saw their pictures it was all over. I went crazy, and bought seeds on a hope that perhaps I could grow and nurture plants.

Turns out I can, and I have 60 extra plants in my car port to prove it.

This year will be the true test of our gardening abilities. We’ve gone from 0 to 60, but that’s the type of people we are. We have 13 blueberry bushes, 4 apple trees, 12 raspberry and blackberry vines (I call them sticks), a three sisters plot, the nightshade garden, two raised beds, a front bed for tomatoes and a long 40 x 2 bed for lettuce but which will be its pumpkin patch. We plan on putting 2 peach trees in this weekend.

So there you have it. The big adventure. The big gardening adventure that makes my fingers itch to plant because there’s nothing more satisfying than trying something and seeing it flourish from seed to maturity, and I can’t wait to see everything bear fruit.

Memorial Day Weekend To-Do List

I’m trying to post and get dressed and get things done all in time to make a cake tasting at 11am.

Not much is getting done, I’ll tell you that.

I want to post about the chickens, and the garden, and the fact that holy crap, I can grow things!

But instead, until later this evening when I can update about the bees (please let there be no swarm cells!), my to-do list for this weekend will have to suffice. And it’s pretty long. List behind the cut. Continue reading

Gardening as an Adult: Part 2

Mike and I were on our second year of being together. We were considering buying a house. I was secretly living with him, and not-so-secretly changing and showering at the gym before work. We were going out to happy hour on Thursday nights, and working day jobs, and were exceptionally fit–much healthier than we are now, unfortunately.

We were still living in the suburbs but I decided I was going to try my hand at gardening again. This time, we’d do his yard.

So sometime in May (probably late May) we borrowed my dad’s tiller and tilled up part of the backyard at Mike’s house. We bought some t-posts and wire fencing, and a pile of tomato cages. We bought all started plants this time, except for the cucumbers that never did grow.

We were ready.

Tomatoes, jalapenos, sweet peppers, rosemary.

I feel like I tried to plant onion and potatoes, but I can’t be sure.

We watered. We halfheartedly weeded. We drove around looking for houses.

Sometime in July, the peppers started producing quite happily. I feel like the tomatoes must have been producing by then too, but all I really remember is a big metal bowl full of bell peppers and another full of jalapenos.

I never had the patience to wait so almost all of them were green.

What was a girl to do? Why, make mounds of stuffed peppers, of course!

And oh they were good. Peppers stuffed with meat, and cheese, and bread crumbs. Peppers stuffed with more peppers. They were a hit.

The plants had just started to kick in gear, and although you had to wade in to get the goods, it was worth it.

And then we moved.

At the heart of the season, when the peppers really started going, we moved.

We moved 50 miles away to an overgrown place with no peppers and tomatoes producing. And our lovely garden was left behind with Mike’s siblings, a nineteen-year-old boy and a twenty-year-old girl.

They never picked them, and we never went back, except for the one time when Mike visited and said it was so overgrown it wasn’t even worth walking into and risk getting bit by a snake.

Oh well.

Lessons learned: Weed your garden. Make a commitment and stick with it. Peppers stuffed with peppers taste just lovely.