Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gardening math

Okay, so it is now Saturday, and I had hoped to finish dealing with the other big mound of dirt by today. I didn't make it. And it hasn't started raining yet, so there is still some time left to go out and work on the thing and maybe get some work done before everything is a big muddy mess, but I know that whatever happens that I will still not get it finished today. I have worked on this a lot yesterday and the day before, and while I was quite sure that I had put just as much work into this one as I had on the last one, I have only got about half of the work done.

And while I was sitting there being disappointed at having so little to show for my efforts, it suddenly occurred to me that there was no mystery as to why the thing was no where near being finished. And it didn't mean that I had only put in half the time and work of the earlier project.

I was looking at where the other mound had been, and how that dirt had mostly ended up being contained in what looks to me like about a four by five foot garden bed. Not a very good working garden bed, but there's more work to be done on it next year to actually get food to grow in it properly. No, the idea was just to get the dirt moved to the proper place and make it look like part of the garden and not just the odd mound of dirt, and to cover the place where that part of the garden will be next year, and to not have to have grass growing in that spot and not have to mow it.

So there is this mound of dirt that was moved to the four by five spot, or close to it, and that took two days of really hard work, not counting the time spent putting the boards together and painting them and such. The mound that I am working on now is a bit bigger, and the place that I am moving the dirt to is about four feet by twelve feet, and so far it looks like that is a good guess as to how big it will be. So if my guess for this one is accurate, this mound is about twice as big as the other one, so it would take twice as long and need four days of hard work instead of just two.

Okay, that was obvious, wasn't it? I don't know why I didn't think of that before. But I do feel a bit better now that I think about it, and not just beating myself up for not doing enough work on the thing.

Other silly things are happening with the garden. For one thing, it has only just now occurred to me that it is time to water the stuff regularly. It had rained so much that I had only watered once or twice a week. In the spring you don't water everyday, and sometimes you don't even water every other day. In the spring you think, it rained the day before yesterday, so I don't need to water anything today. But when it gets warmer in the summer, even if it did rain the day before yesterday, unless it just rained all day you need to check the plants. And of course I didn't, so I lost a few of the smaller things, but that's okay. Anyway, the soaker hoses are all in place now, so I'll water every other day when it doesn't rain, and soon I'll water everyday. And sometimes I might even end up watering twice a day. It gets that hot sometimes.

I was so sure that the new bed was going to grow most of the things that I actually wanted to eat that I wasted most of the space in the second garden bed with some odd and mostly ornamental stuff. So I don't have much in the way of stuff like lettuce and carrots. The mound of dirt that now looks like a four by five garden is about a fourth filled with onions, which should be fine. Another fourth is just stuff that looks good growing, but I don't actually eat much of, like turnips. Then another fourth of it was going to be the second attempt at lettuce and carrots and spinach, but for some reason, only the lettuce seemed to have sprouted, and now half of that isn't doing well either. And I don't think that I have the rabbits to blame either, as the stuff was probably too small for them to notice, and if they were going to eat something I'd think that they would have gone at the chard first, which they haven't. So I think that the lettuce just didn't like that spot, and I think now that it is a bit warm and it is probably just too late to try again.

Anyway, when I finish up with the second mound, it isn't going to be nice lettuce and carrots either. It needs to be something that will grow quickly and look like a garden, even if it isn't something that I eat much of. So I think that it will end up being some radishes (which I do eat) and possibly a lot of beans, which I also eat, but just not a whole bed full of them. But they have big sprouts and will quickly look like something instead of just a bunch of boards around some dirt.

Something really odd happened with the beans in the first mound. I bought some beans along with the turnips seeds and radish seeds and such, and I planted them, and then I had a little bit of space left and I filled in the space with eight beans that I got out of the kitchen. Now, in nature, seeds don't all sprout all at the same time. About half of the seeds are sort of programed to sprout in the season the year after they were grown. Then about half of what is left will sprout the year after that, with most of the other half sprouting on the third year, but a few will sprout maybe on the fourth or fifth year. So that way, if there is a drought or something one year, the seeds that were dormant the first year will make plants the second or third year. Otherwise, a drought could just wipe out all the plants forever. But when you buy seeds at a store, most of them have been treated so that they sprout whenever you plant them.

So it is very odd that the bean seeds that I bought as seeds and should have sprouted within a few days of being planted have not, while all eight of the kitchen beans have sprouted and are now almost a foot tall.

Anyway, as the beans I got from the kitchen are a different type of bean, and they did not come with planting instructions, I don't know if they are bush beans or pole beans or what. So I don't know if I have planted them in a good spot or if they will die for not having enough space or not having anything to climb on or not. But right now it is a green plant and it makes the dirt look like a garden instead of just a spot where I let the grass die, and that is the main thing that I care about for that spot this year.

Other than that, the tomato plants look well enough, and the one squash plant looks good and the other one is stunted. The third one never even sprouted, so I'll probably put a flower or something in the empty spot. There are pill bugs everywhere, which according to everything I've read are not supposed to be a problem, because they are only supposed to eat dead plants. Well, I think what I've read is wrong, and while they are eating dead leaves and such they then decide to eat sprouts and such that are nearby. So I think that is what happened with one of the squash plants. Anyway, I'll know better next year.


Ananda girl said...

Wow. That's going to be some garden! I don't know half of what you know about gardening. No wonder I'm not very good at it.

All that hard work is going to pay off. Tell me does you husband eat radishes? Or any of the other stuff you don't eat that you grow? I mean, it's okay to grow it cause you like how it looks. I was just curious.

laughingattheslut said...

I am not really that good at gardening. I look at a lot of books, but usually end up not actually reading most of them and not doing what most of them recommend. I just need to look at some pretty pictures to make me get off my a** and do the work. It is more of a trial and error thing. I buy a plant and put it somewhere, and if it works out that's great, and if it doesn't work out I move it somewhere or buy something else.

So I have to say that we eat almost everything that we can get to grow, but only that first year did we get lucky and everything we planted grew. And then we had the problem of not having anything ready at the right time. So we do eat radishes, but it's not like we would want to eat a bunch of radishes by themselves. What we would like is to eat radishes in a salad with spinach. But if you plant the radishes and the spinach at the same time, the radishes are ready to eat about a month before you get any spinach. So then you have to replant the radishes, which we would usually forget to do, so we rarely get our salad. And then this year, the spinach didn't even sprout, so I don't know what is going on with that.

Now at the time we had the other house, the main thing that either of us would eat in great quanities regardless of what else we might have to go with it was peppers. We seemed to eat peppers with everything, and he would eat them just by themselves. So we gave up trying to deal with stuff like carrots and just grew more peppers.

So now carrots have become something that he would just sit and eat by themselves, so I'm trying to have another go at the carrots, but it doesn't seem to be working out. Most of them didn't even sprout. I think it might be from the different soil. So I might try growing them in containers instead, and just buying better soil for them.

Anyway, this year I tried growing a couple of things that I really just don't eat at all, just because I like the way that they look and I'm curious about them. I don't eat much sweet potatoes (though I do eat whole bags of exotic chips, so I might try making some), but I like the way the plant looks and it sort of hangs over the edge of the bed. And my mom eats them, so if they actually grow the eating part instead of just the green part, I can give her some that I don't use. The other experiment is elephant ears. So if you plant a small one and water it, do you get a bigger elephant ear, or do you get a bunch of smaller ones? Maybe the larger ones are a different variety of plant? Anyway, I planted five of them, so now I will find out. And again, they are nice to look at, though I don't eat taro, except for those bags of chips. And I might plant some pumpkins, cause I like having them around in October, but I rarely eat those either. Except for pumpkin pie, but it is just so much easier to start with a can for that.

Ananda girl said...

Yum... sweet potatoes! I love sweet potatoes. They are very lovely plants. They are quite tasty if you bake them like you would a russet potato and then cut them in half, butter and add brown sugar... put them under the broiler to carmalize. They are heavenly.

Elephant ears are really pretty. They grow well in the part of Cal. where I grew up. Some of them get huge! I imagine it depends on amount of sun and water... as it likes.

I did not know that taro and sweet potatoes were the same thing. I though that they were different. Thanks.

Did you drop by my place today? I had an anonymous that felt like your writing. Just curious. But then whoever may want to truly be anonymous and that's okay too.

laughingattheslut said...

Taro is elephant ear. Or at least, they look the same to me. We will find out later.

TERRA makes these exotic chips from taro, sweet potato, blue potato, and beets, and maybe a couple of other things. I haven't yet tried to make them myself.

I was anonymous today because I couldn't seem to log in properly this morning. It just happens sometimes. At least my comment did not get erased.

dmarks said...

I've seen beet chips at the store. Not sure the brand on them. They intrigue me, even though I am not fond of beets.

Ananda girl said...

I once had a roommate who was a six foot, three inch Japanese kid from Japan... who ridiculously impersonated Elvis all the time...who had a cat named Taro. They eat taro. Or he did.

I know that it is a staple food in Africa, but have always wondered what on earth it is.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I wish I was good at gardening.