Panopoly: Ceramic art and craft, by Lynae Zebest

Bit of Earth Update

It has been two weeks since I last posted about the garden (and roughly two months since I started working on it), so now it’s time to check in and see how things are going. Things change so quickly this time of year!

Planting Continues

Starting from seed indoors has so far been a huge success. On the suggestion of a wonderful book called Golden Gate Gardening, I planted the seeds in pure vermiculite, and all but one of them sprouted! The wonderful thing I discovered about vermiculite, too, is that it doesn’t hold its shape–which on the one hand does mean that the plants should be transplanted to soil while quite small, but on the other hand means that if I plant, say, 6 seeds and they all sprout, I can go in and separate the 6 plants and replant them separately–so I don’t have to do the usual practice of “thinning.” No one told me I could do this, but I tried and it’s worked like a dream. A few of my homegrown starts have already made it into the garden, and most of the others will be ready to move out there any day now.

We also got a few nursery seedlings, thanks to keeping an eye out for sales. I am really hesitant to spend any significant amount of money on the garden, not only because I don’t have much to spare and am very thrifty to begin with, but also because I’m so inexperienced that I feel like it’s a risky investment. So far I think I’ve spent no more than $60 on the garden…and a good chunk of that was from a gift certificate we got for our wedding last year, so doesn’t entirely count. In addition I feel like the seeds (which make up the bulk of that price) are worth investing in because I can use them for a long time before I run out; even if these starts fail, I can grow more.

Potato Tire in the Background

I took all these photos the day that I planted many of the plants. I dug up all that soil and worked in some organic plant food before getting the plants in–it ended up being a ton of work! As I’ve gotten more “intimately acquainted” with our soil, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bit more clay (how appropriate, right?) than I’d really like, but I didn’t really do my research into how to remedy this issue until after many new plants were already in. I’m hoping that my compost tea applications, and additions of perlite (to help loosen up the soil a bit) with each new planting will be enough to improve things over time.

As of today, 5 days later, many of those plants are not doing as well as they are in the photos. I am, so far, chalking this up to a hopefully mild case oftransplant shock (I did harden them off a bit, but I was pretty lazy about it) and hoping for the best.

We also continue work on clearing out weeds and the big concrete/dirt pile. Orin made a sifter so we can remove the little concrete chunks from the soil, and only dispose of those. These is still a goodly amount of that to do, but we’ve made serious progress. I plan on planting some flowers in that end of the yard in order to attract pollinators, particularly honey bees. (I love bees.)

The Towering Prickly Pear

The prickly pear cactus is currently blooming…it has gotten so much bigger since we moved in four years ago! It’s huge! This year we want to harvest the fruits and eat them!

Prickly Pear Blossom

Ignoring weed plants and most unidentified relics from past gardeners, here’s a rundown of what we’ve got going in the garden:

  • Lavender
  • Two varieties of basil (Sweet Italian and Genovese)
  • Spearmint
  • Agate soybean
  • Dragon Lingerie pole beans
  • Watermelon radish (only 1 of the seeds I direct-sowed came up)
  • California Wonder bell pepper
  • Lemon Catmint
  • Summer savory
  • Cilantro
  • Russet potatoes (in the tire)
  • One new groundcover plant whose name I can’t remember
  • Red and white roses
  • Jasmine
  • Jade
  • Oleander
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Fig tree (potted, not shown)
  • Lemon tree (potted, not shown)
  • …and a relic plant from last year that I believe is a zucchini that may or may not still fruit.
  • Bean Poles Are Up

    On top of that, I’ve got the following starts just waiting to go in:

  • Cimarron lettuce
  • more Watermelon radish
  • Hale’s Best cantaloupe
  • Golden Crookneck squash
  • Paris Market carrots
  • Sweet Banana peppers
  • Florence fennel
  • Scarlet Runner bean
  • This has been such a fulfilling experience so far…if I produce only 1 single vegetable, I will be absolutely ecstatic. But of course I’m hoping to grow a lot more than that!