Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Body & Soul: New House, New Garden

Last year a good friend I worked with allowed me to grow a garden in the corner of his yard. It was not a big garden but it was still allot of work. With the help of my son, we dug up the grass, tilled the dirt and added manure to help fertilize the ground. I grew tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and carrots. Overall it was a huge success for my first garden. My mother came to see it along with my cousin who dug trenches so my entire garden could be watered at one time. Amazing how my garden grew afterwards. At the end of summer I was pleased with all the vegetables I had grown.

Now that we have moved into a new home, I get to start all over again. However, this time it's not just the garden I'm doing, it's the entire yard. I saw two of my neighbors out mowing their lawn last weekend. I have been out in my yard almost every weekend plus week days for the past two months. This yard is not one you can simply mow and be done. It actually has three levels to it. The top or main area of the yard, my garden and slope as we have nick-named it and the bottom section where the fruit trees are located. 
My home sits on a hill and everything slopes downward. Why someone would build a house on a hill is a great question. The walls on each section are lined with railroad ties that are severely leaning and need to be replaced (in the near future), but it's still a lovely yard.

Last weekend I worked entirely on the slope pulling out weeds. It literally took me two days with the help of my youngest daughter. Come Sunday night I was close to tears, I had been outside for two days and thought I would never be done. I was tired, sore, and sunburnt, but the weeds seemed to be never-ending. Finally we finished and I stepped back to look at what we had accomplished.
I was so impressed at all our hard work. Let's just hope it is not like this every spring because I would die.

Weeks earlier my garden was pretty much the same way; full of weeds. There was also a huge bush that hung over one end of the garden. I couldn't plant anything because the bush was in the way so I started to trim away the branches. What I thought would be just a few hours of pruning the bush turned into a huge ordeal that eventually lead to us hiring someone to remove the bush altogether. The bush seemed to be adding to the wall leaning and I'm not ready to pay for a new retaining wall just yet. While we worked on removing the bush I got the other end of my garden tilled, fertilized and ready for planting. My garden is 25 x 6 feet.

It is a fair amount to plant everything I want. Late March I planted peas, onions and lettuce, however, I should tell you that while tilling the ground I discovered parsley and shallots. What a treat! We have been eating parsley since March. The parsley is growing like a weed now so I think I'm going to dry it and store it in baggies for use throughout the year. My daughter has a bunny who enjoys the parsley as well. 

Once I got the ground tilled and ready to go, I added plants as the weather and ground permitted. To date I have added beans, carrots, radishes, peppers (red, green and yellow), yellow squash and cucumbers. 
In other parts of my yard are grape vines, which I learned from one of my garden classes you can prune heavily and they will grow back. I had a great deal of fun pruning those vines. I was a little worried but they are growing back and look marvelous. My son helped me over the weekend to pull one of the vines upwards. It was leaning way over almost laying on the fence. I also learned that you can train trees and plants to grow where you want them. Slowly I will continue to keep pulling the vine upward so eventually it is standing up straight as it once was.

Weeks ago I went over to a friend's home to get some blackberry starts. One immediately took off and started to bud. The other didn't do so well and for a while I thought I would only have one little blackberry bush. Each day I checked on it, watered it faithfully and then I saw it, that tiny little green leaf popped out of the base of the berry bush. My smile could not get any bigger. I was so proud of my little blackberry bush. It survived the move from one garden to another. Let's hope it produces lots of tasty berries.

I also sprayed my peach and apple tree this past weekend. I have never done this before so of course I read the directions. I never saw low  pressure
on the bottle meaning you have to get real close to the branches. Yeah, that didn't go over very well because the bottle says not to get any on your skin and if you do rinse immediately for 20 minutes then call the poison center. Well I was pretty much covered with this stuff when I got done. I had to get my son to finish because I couldn't reach the top branches. I'm not so sure how well of a job I did but I pray there are no bugs in our fruit this year.

I still have my potatoes and strawberries to plant. When I do I will update and let you know how they are doing. Honestly I think I went overboard this year with the garden. I look at it as a good summer project, it keeps me active outdoors in the nice sunshine. I've already killed several wasps who think it's perfectly fine to build their homes inside my tool shed. They don't frighten me as long as I have my can of wasp spray next to me. I would love to invent a holster like a gun holster that a spray can will slide into on the side of my hip. Can you see me walking out into my garden armed with two cans of wasp spray at my sides. I love it!