We are two days into Spring, and the sun shining through the windows these last couple of days has the Spring Fever biting hard. The sunny skies are deceiving, though, since the temperature out there hasn’t broken the mid-50’s, and it’s making me impatient for warmer days.
I’m ready for hiking and weekends at the cabin. I’m ready to spend my evenings seated on the back patio swing with a book in hand and a glass of wine on the coffee table in front of me, and a fire roaring in the fire pit. I’m ready for winery trips and beach lounging at the lake. I’m ready for skirts and tank tops and flowy blouses and open windows. And I’m ready for fresh produce from my garden!
Gardening is where my mind has been every second that I’m not at work, writing papers for school, or purging belongings from mine and my kiddos’ rooms and closets. I’ve been in overdrive on organizing and minimizing our stuff…no matter how clean things are, having a lot of stuff around makes it feel not clean and stresses me out. Even the hall closet has been organized and simplified! I’m feeling like one of those minimalists, only less extreme and more for the sake of my own mental health than for the environment.
The toughest part of moving to my new house last spring was my garden. I thought I had the perfect little place for it, but the crabapple tree hovering nearby produced just enough shade that my tomatoes, zucchini and peppers didn’t produce anything all summer long. I got some lettuce in the spring, and a teeny-tiny crop of green beans, and that was it.
Rather than till up a whole new place in the yard for a garden this year, I’ve decided to try container gardening. It saves me from destroying my yard, plus I can move the containers to any location I need to in order to get them full sun. I even found a method of growing potatoes and green beans in containers, using plastic storage totes, so I’m anxious to give it a try.
Last year’s garden will be reserved for the cooler weather spring veggies that are okay with some shade. Lettuce, kale, carrots, beets and spinach. The carrot seeds have been sown, and the rest will be put out in a couple more weeks! I also decided to try the concrete block method of growing. I have a retaining wall that is over four feet tall, and has room behind it at the top to tuck concrete blocks away inconspicuously. The yard also gets full sun right there, so I bought 15 blocks and lined them up behind the retaining wall, then filled them with potting soil.
When I got home this evening, I popped dinner into the oven, grabbed my onion sets and pea seeds, and made for the back yard to start planting. I can’t wait to start seeing little specks of green peeking through the soil! As much as I love the farmer’s market and my summertime Saturday routine of Cup N’ Cork, the market, and the antique shops…it feels so good to step into the back yard, pick a few things from a vine for free, and have dinner!
I’ve planted onions before, but never had much luck with our heavy, clay-laden soil here in Missouri. So I’m hoping using concrete blocks filled with loose potting mix will produce much better results. I’m growing yellow onions, purple onions, green onions and garlic…which will turn out if I’m extra lucky.
I’m a garlic-growing virgin, so I had no idea until I started looking up how to grow it that I should’ve planted it last fall. It’s supposed to be in the ground all winter, so the root system can start spreading and be ready to take off when the ground warms in the Spring. Maybe my garlic will just be late-bloomers!
The peas are going to be more of a crap-shoot. I bought a couple of trellises to add to the one I already had, and staked them into the ground behind the retaining wall, in front of the neighbor’s privacy fence. But I’m afraid the trellises won’t have nearly enough room for the peas to spread, so I may have to run some wire between the trellises so the pea tendrils can stretch their skinny little legs.
With all of that done, now I’m thinking about growing watermelon and pumpkins. I have all of this space above the retaining wall in full sun, that is just going to waste with grass and weeds. I have a couple of butterfly bushes and phlox, which may or may not have survived the heat last summer, and some daylilies. The idea is to draw butterflies and bees to help pollinate my veggies, but watermelon and pumpkins have plenty of big yellow flowers that will demand the attention of my pollinating friends, too…and the squirrels and rabbits won’t bother that crop!
The rest of my garden veggies need to be closer to the house, where my cat and dog will keep the thieving critters away. Of the handful of tomatoes that my plants last year did produce, in late August and barely larger than a half-dollar, a squirrel stole them, ate a few nibbles out of them, then left them to rot in the sun on top of the retaining wall. It was just out of reach for my dog, and my cat laid in the garden and watched without desire to hunt. This, the cat that also murdered a poor baby bunny last Spring, and left me a dead Robin in the shed one morning when I went out to feed her.
So this year…the tomatoes will be in pots on my patio and Miss Ruby won’t let a squirrel get within a 20-foot radius. The one time I’m thankful my dog is crazy and comes unglued at anything that moves! Really….last night Hunter went out to the carport and came back in, and she completely freaked out like she does when someone new comes over. I guess she must have assumed he was bringing someone in the house with him, but that was the first time she ever reacted like that without having actually seen someone first, yelping and squalling like she’s being beaten. I swear she gets crazier by the month!
Anyhow, my squirrel guard is standing by and my onions and peas are in the ground. Stay tuned for container gardening to come!