Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garden note to self (because self didn't label the rows)... and a dog update

© 2012 Joshua Stark

Yesterday and between storms, me and the kids planted up one of our raised beds.  Starting West and moving East:  pole beans, corn, okra, swiss chard, okra, nasturtium (edges), cabbages (edges), cherry tomatoes (North), beefsteak tomatoes (South), poblano peppers (North), early jalapeños (South), basil.

Ruben, the eighteen-month old, was the catalyst for the plantings.  Day-before-yesterday the little elf, famous in this house for throwing everything he can into the pond, had gotten hold of my package of basil seeds and tossed it in the drink.  Since they'd soaked for a while, I decided it would be best to just plant the whole packet - something I never do (I still have seeds from five years ago).  Frankly, it was kinda cathartic, and I knew it was time to get the rest of the stuff in, too.

I hate thinning plants that I've planted and that have shown the courtesy to come up, so my gardens always look a bit anemic because I'm afraid to over-plant.  Not this time.  I planted many, many seeds.  We'll see if I'll be callous enough to do the dirty work and thin the babies, although I probably will do what needs to be done and just eat them, anyway.

The bed is 4' x 8', and I'm sure I'm straining somebody's take on companion planting (tomatoes with corn), but let me explain myself.  We have three raised beds, and this year the Upper Bed was planted early with greens, onions and leeks (and now garlic, too).  Agnes asked for the North Bed, which I was tickled pink to give her.  In it we've put lemon balm, cilantro, marigolds, and more garlic, and we still have some room.

The one bed left, then, was "my" vegetable garden, and it all needed to go in.  So I started with pole beans and corn on the Northeast side to minimize garden shading.  I know that corn and beans don't get along with tomatoes, so I put in some okra (which supposedly gets along with everybody) and chard (which is always just happy to be here) in-between.  I edged everything with nasturtium (yes, I'm 30 years late to the party, but I don't care, I love a plant I can grow that tastes just like black pepper).  On the West side are rows of cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, poblanos and jalapeños (not jalapenos - and never, ever make that mistake when typing about Spanish years), and finally the infamous row of basil.

I'm afraid that the latest storm will slow down the peppers and tomatoes; I'd rather not buy flats of started plants this year, but instead get some good show from these seeds.  Our Spring temps. usually shoot up 20 or 30 degrees the day after a storm, so I'm not too worried, but you never know.  I hope to use some of the cherry tomato seedlings to fill a hanging garden bag my Mother-in-law gave us a couple of years ago, but I will buy a started pear tomato if they don't show.

Speaking of hanging gardens, we also put a Rutgers heirloom tomato in an upside-down tomato bag (complete with pretty metal stand).  The stand was my Christmas present from one of my lovely sisters, and it looks great!

Around the property, the cuttings are showing no additional signs of life, but the pomegranate, orange, fig, currant and boysenberries are definitely thriving.

Consider me your experiment for getting your entire vegetable garden in one bed.  I'll do my best to keep you posted.


On the dog front, more crappy news.  The local SPCA turned us down over the phone because the dog I was interested in (a "lab/hound mix" which looks awfully like a lab/GSP mix) was not, according to them, good for a home with children.  Apparently, the reasoning goes, she "jumps up a lot."  B.S.  I told the lady that it was too bad they were prejudiced against children instead of taking the time to get to know the potential owner, and hung up.  I suppose they've never met a person who could train a dog not to jump up - and I'd like to know if they've ever had a medium-sized or larger dog under the age of two not jump up.  According to the Sacramento SPCA, then, kids shouldn't be raised around big dogs.  I don't know what they are trying to accomplish, but building a constituency of people who love dogs enough to want to save them obviously isn't one of them.


Hippo said...

Dude, you are really getting hung up about this dog.

Have you ever thought of just lying?

Go in there and say you run a bike shop/bar and at night customers can start to get pretty feisty so you need a dog with attitude.

If they ask about kids and your conscience won't allow you to deny them, even in a good cause, just say that the dog'll never get near them because you chain the kids up in the yard.

You are jealous of all the fish I catch, I am jealous of all the seeds and plants you can buy.

Josh said...

It is nice to have a wide variety of plants and the place to grow 'em (California is pretty much awesome). However, it is also nice to land a few fish larger than myself...

I've really considered lying, yes. They wouldn't give it to a bar owner, though - these people are the "saviors" of the millions of poor dogs and cats of the country. From the looks of their advertisements for donations, you'd think they'd be short good homes, but after these run-ins, I'm starting to reconsider this pet epidemic lede.

And the chaining-up crack is right up my alley, man; thanks for the boost in spirits.

Unknown said...

I hate thinning seedlings as well. I have a bunch of leeks that need that sort of attention right now. You're right--it just feels rude!

I hope that just the right dog finds their way to your home soon. In the mean time, crack a nettle beer let that remind you that things could always be worse :)

Josh said...

Hey, Matt! That nettle beer is something, eh? I'll post about it here really soon. I'll title it something like, "Did you know you could squeeze a lemon out of a nettle?"

It is so citrus-ey, I'm going to use it for a fish marinade, for sure. I'll also do what you did and cut it with a Miller. I like it because it isn't so much beer-flavored; it is something else entirely.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mr. Fashion House said...

Hey, do you have any interest in raspberries? Despite our best efforts, they keep coming back under our fig tree.

Primocane ever bearing raspberries. Apparently pretty hearty. I could bring them by next week maybe.

Josh said...

Mr. Fashion House! Thanks for stopping by.

No, we don't have a place for raspberries, we have boysenberries. However, I'm sure we'd be willing to trade berries for berries. Besides, I can't wait to see your fig-and-raspberry bramble in three years. It'll look like the Delta in your back yard!

Have you considered potting the starts and looking for buyers? We would be more than willing to combine our forces with yours and post to craigslist...

Mr. Fashion House said...

Alas, we also have boysenberries, and my parents have about 150 plants (no joke), so we have a surfeit of boysenberries.

I did have a fig volunteer come up, but it appears to have not survived transplanting/the winter.