Thursday, May 27, 2010

Growing things

This year I'm trying to grow things ... on purpose.
This is my newly claimed garden. This spot in the back left corner of our yard has always been a problem child. The ground, while fairly good, is full of rocks. The previous owners apparently used this area as a dumping ground for said rocks, shingles, pull tabs (remember those?), and other stuff they didn't feel like dealing with.

So, after I dug up the dirt and Skimbleshanks and I took turns sifting out most of the rocks and other junk, my big bruddah installed those posts and the lattice. (Very cool: the lattice is plastic ... no painting! However, once the gate is installed, that will have to be painted. Oh, well.)
This is the inside of the lattice, where my first growing thing is being very obliging and actually growing. Green beans -- mmm! I've planted them on both sides of the lattice, hoping that they'll creep their way all over it both to look pretty and to make it easier to harvest the beans.
Grow, beans, grow!

So far, I've planted lettuce, carrots, and, green peppers (seedlings).

I've planted some peas, pumpkins, and cantaloupes in a different spot, again hoping 1) that they actually grow and 2) that they'll send their vines up, over, and around a preexisting structure (swing set/fort combo). If they cooperate with my plan, the result should be pretty cool. I believe that the squirrels have been raiding the pea spot, but that's OK. What they haven't figured out is that there's another row of peas planted on the other side of the structure. We shall have to see who wins this battle of wits. Stay tuned.

On the other side of the shed I've planted some herbs. (Yeah, yeah, I know it's messy; I don't have the "tidy" gene, so sue me.)
Let's see, obviously, that's a hosta in front. Behind it is a lavender plant, and it already has one flower spike. Such excitement! I have three other lavender plants, but they didn't produce any flowers last year, the ingrates. OK, beyond the lavender is nasturtium...
... and two scented geraniums ...
The geraniums are still a bit "weedy," but I'm sure they'll fill in ... if they survive. I also have tarragon, sage, rosemary, basil (this one's a goner, sadly), thyme, and marjoram. I think that's it. It's enough, anyway.

Time to share one of my favorite growing-thing secrets. It may not be a secret at all, but when I was a kid, I just thought it was the neatest things around. So, here we have your basic honeysuckle.
At our house, this stuff is all over our fence, and it smells wonderful. So, pick a flower or two, making sure that you keep the, uh, end caps in place, like this:
Very carefully, use your thumbnail to cut the flower stem on the top side, being very careful not to cut through the ... pistil (I think that's what it's called -- the thing that grows from the cap end and extends beyond the trumpet end). Very slowly, pull the bloom and pistil apart ...
(The white flowers weren't cooperating with my little demonstration, so I had to try again with a  more-cooperative yellow flower.) See that little drop of liquid? It's sugary sweet and wonderful. Yummy! Of course, you get just the barest hint of the sweetness and floral scent, but it's oh, so worth it. Another flower that will share it's nectar is the tulip poplar.

The flower shown here is a bit too open, but you'll get the idea. Anyway, once it's open, you hope for rain. After the rain, you have to climb the tree and make it out to a blossom. Look inside and you'll find a very small puddle of sweet, sweet nectar. Climbing the tree, shinnying along its branches to the flowers, and sipping that sweet liquid is one of my favorite childhood memories. Of course, as an adult, I feel a bit queasy at the thought of just how high I climbed and how far out on those branches I went. Oh, well. Isn't there a saying about God watching out for kids and idiots? Buddha must have been exhausted every night when I was a fearless little tomboy.

Oh, one more flower. Here's a rose. This little guy just keeps hanging on by the skin of its teeth from year to year. I've decided that the kindest thing I can do for it is to just keep my distance.
And no selection of yard pictures would be complete with my constant companion, Loki.
I wanted to get a head-on shot of him, but he kept getting in my face every time I squatted down. "Me ... and my sha-dow!"

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