Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gardening IS a workout, right?

It's unusual for me to come home from work without something new for the garden. Groundworks has lots o'plants – trees, shrubs, fruit, herbs and flowers – and I can almost always find something on a table or bench that I need to stuff in my lawn.

So far this year, the "something" has included creeping phlox, garden phlox, three rhubarbs, two kinds of petunias, some allysum, a baptisia and a blue salvia to replace ones that didn't overwinter, a couple liatris and five lamium. Oh, and a papyrus which will overwinter as a house plant.

Yesterday was a perfect gardening day. I'd planned to take a walk, but according to LoseIt! I burned more calories tilling, digging, weeding and planting than I would have by taking a stroll. The sun was mostly hidden behind thin clouds, and the temperature stayed in the low 60s. I started working outside at around 10 a.m. and didn't quit until 3:30, except for a PB&J at noon.

(Gardening is one of those intentional activities that ultimately deliver food as a legitimate reward. Unlike running, in which I – just speaking for myself here – often chowed down after a run with the feeling that I deserved it.)

I may be the only gardener in West Virginia who can't grow rhubarb. I've managed to kill every one I've planted, which is why the new ones went into the herb bed. I can't accidentally till them under or step on them or forget about them out there. They can't be overtaken by weeds when they're in a spot that's easy to manage. I will keep trying. (I mentioned my dismal rhubarb efforts to the Amish lady from whom I buy milk and she sent one of her daughters out to give me a few stalks. Which ended up being a POUND! I gave her my last jar of sun-dried tomatoes in garlic and oil in return.)

The last project on yesterday's list was tilling another small section of the vegetable garden and planting something in it. I'd originally wanted to get the edamame started, but the soil needs to warm up a bit. The one row of sugar snaps I planted a while ago aren't doing well – I, perhaps, jumped the gun even with sugar snaps! – so I planted four short rows, probably 60 feet altogether. It's too late to plant shelling peas and although I love them, they are a lot of work for very little reward.

Mother Nature has done me the ultimate favor of allowing me to skip the watering chore this morning. It's nice to have a good steady rain a day after planting.

This is the fourth year I've grown vegetables, and I learn something new every year. I like Italian green beans better than any other variety. Amish Paste tomatoes meet all my needs, and I will plant an entire flat (48 plants), or maybe a flat and a half, of them this year. Along with a couple cherry varieties and one or two slicers, that should be enough to get me through the year.

There's no reason to waste gardening space growing beans meant to be dried – black, navy, cranberry or any of the other varieties – except black-eyed peas because they are just so cool to watch growing. I'll gladly give them a short row and eat them on New Year's Day.

Two years ago I was on a sunflower kick. No plans for them
this year, but that could easily change!
I need to plant more pickling cucumbers and fewer slicing ones, because the slicers end up bloating and turning yellow before we have time to eat them. But we do love us some pickles. And I need to be sure to can more sandwich slices and fewer spears. I'll also plant some zucchini, but I use it mostly for relish and I still have a couple jars, so I don't need to plant much.

One or two rows of okra will be plenty, since I'm the only one who eats the pickled okra. I freeze what I don't pickle, to use in gumbo or to make stewed okra and tomatoes.

Neither of us cares much for corn, but when I see it coming up in others' gardens and I haven't planted any I regret not doing so. Yes, there will be corn. And lots of edamame which, with the corn, make a delicious and nutritious succotash. (I always allow several edamame plants to mature and dry, so I don't have to hunt for non-GMO seed the following year.)

And finally I will plant squash all around the edge and let the vines trail into the yard. Butternuts and cushaws, for sure. And maybe something new, just for fun.

My garden is going to look like a quilt this year, with lots of small squares or rectangles going in different directions. There's no scientific reason to plant this way, I just like the way it looks and feels when I'm walking through it.

Wow, I think I just planned my whole vegetable garden after just half an hour of writing. Thanks y'all! Most farmers <snort! I'm totally making fun of myself!> figure this all out in February when the snow's piling up. Fortunately, Groundworks also sells seed packets. I – and my garden – are good to grow!

1 comment:

  1. hey, gardening is hard work and I have the sweat stains to prove it!

    Thank you for sharing your garden plans. I love to hear how other's are doing, and especially enjoy hearing how other's also, occasionally, mistep (when will I ever grow rhubarb?!)

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