Planting and Repotting

This weekend we'd planned to prepare to make the chicken house slab. So we marked off the footprint yesterday, then today we sifted and relocated a bunch of finished compost (I still have a wheelbarrow mostly full of compost and nowhere specific to put it, so the compost effort has been very good to me). With all that, I was primed to do some gardening (read: covered from head to toe in dirt), so I did some planting out.

I had already planted the Sungold cherry tomato (at the right), so I planted out a Black Krim seedling (that you can hardly see on the left) that was just big enough to go in the ground, and an Anaheim pepper in the middle. Before doing that I weeded out the bed there, because it was getting pretty overgrown.

Tomatoes and peppers bed

I relocated the tomatoes this year as a part of crop rotation. Where there were tomatoes last year I've planted peas (in one bed) and cucumbers (in another). I've had very poor success with cucumbers in the past but I have high hopes for this year as it looks to be a hot summer.

I also planted out some lamb's ears along the orchard path -- in a spot where I'd already put some out and killed them by not watering (classic move on my part). Good thing I have a large packet of seeds that I got free, right? Anyway, this time I did it more right, which is to say that I let the seedlings get much larger, and I did some real bed preparation.

Lamb's ears

I dug a trench about five inches wide and four inches deep that was three feet long. Then I mixed the soil removed from the trench with some nice, new compost from the pile to make a rich sandy soil. Look at that photo! Well, it will look lighter in a day or so because it'll not be quite so evenly moist. I put the hoe and the gnomes there to keep the dogs from lying on the plants, which contributed to the demise of the previous planting of lamb's ears.

And just to show you what I'm living with in this yard, this is what came out of that fairly small trench:

Things removed from the trench

A big pile of gravel, a few dozen pieces of broken glass and rusty metal, and a plastic army guy. The army guy is pretty cool, though.

With that little project complete, I had one more thing I wanted to get done while the sun was up, which was repotting the figs. When last we left the figs they were doing very nicely in their four-inch pots, but of late a couple had begun to show roots through the bottoms. It offends my sense of symmetry to repot just two of four figs into larger pots, so everybody got an upgrade. This will also reduce the amount of moisture on the cuttings, which means everybody had better start showing some decent root production or they will be sorry.

Figs before repotting

Here you see them after-repotting. White Genoa and Desert King are the two very large figs on the right -- they were both very close to the limits of the four-inch pots. Blanquette and Green Greek have both been much more conservative growers, but it's hard to tell what they'll be like as adult trees. You can have a tiny little fig that produces the most amazing fruit ever, so you never know.

Figs after repotting

In my planting future is this: a flat full of assorted red sunflowers and a bunch of Hesperis matronalis (Dame's Rocket), intended for planting along the West wall of the back yard, where I killed my poor blueberries two years ago and planted a bunch of Buddleia this year. I've been trying to kill the Bermuda grass there to prepare a bed, but keeping the area clear is harder than planting something there and weeding around it.

Sunflower seedlings

For those who would tell me to just start the sunflowers right in the ground, we have a voracious flock of assorted wild birds who eat any seeds I direct-sow in the garden, so everything must be started inside. Then it must be raised to be large enough to resist the fleet of snails who would immediately attack it.

After all that work, I had a nice sit in my little chair in the drainage basin (which has my irrigation toolbox on it in this photo, because I've been doing a lot of repairs and adjustments to the system this season). This is prime flowering season. In another month or so things will start to calm down, but right now everything wants to bloom, so sitting outside and enjoying it is more enjoyable than usual.

Enjoying the garden

Sometimes I get so involved in messing with the garden (especially weeding) that I forget to spend time just sitting there enjoying it. I think old houses and any garden can be like that: the sort of person who buys an old house or develops a garden is the sort of person who like messing around with stuff, for whom repairing plaster or filling cracks in wood is a sort of hobby. But it's important to stop and enjoy it, too.

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posted by ayse on 05/04/08