May garden days

It’s been raining so much that I’ve hardly had a chance to get outside and take some photos of my plants. These were actually taken several days ago, and they’ve grown even more since then!

Here’s an areal view of stuff:

I know. There is some serious ugliness going on in our back yard, namely the absence of grass. I’m taking baby steps and each year trying to fix one portion. I have figured out that it totally ruins new sod when three little people run around on it while it’s sopping wet. That would have been good to know oooohhhh about a year ago.

Anyhow, here’s my zucchini plant. I’m expecting great things out of this little guy, so I’m hoping I don’t get disappointed.

Box #1 is up next. I sort of did an experiment with my two new boxes. In box #1 I followed the directions for the SFG soil mix (equal parts peat moss, mixed compost, and vermiculite). Things seem to be growing more slowly in this box. In box#2 I did a mix of peat moss, potting soil, and Black Kow Organic Composted Cow Manure. I planted a yellow squash in each box, and the squash plant in box #2 is a lot bigger than the one in box #1. Things are just growing better in box #2. Now I have my answer. The vermiculite is difficult to find (although I did locate some and just never got around to actually getting it.) and more expensive than the potting soil. 

Box #1:

Heirloom tomatoes, little bitty watermelon seedlings, and a yellow squash plant. (I still have several empty squares that I can't decide what to put in them...the broccoli seedlings all died).

Remember that nasty mushroom compost I mentioned? I had planted my spinach and cucumbers in it and they are doing terribly and mainly just growing really really slowly. Strawberries are doing great, but I don’t think I used mushroom compost in that part of the bed.

Box #2 is my prize in the garden this year, I guess!

Poles beans, eggplant, peppers, carrots, and yellow squash

Well, really my prize in the garden is all this okra. I’m going to have some really happy kids running around munching on okra in a few weeks! It’s all growing really really well.

Okra!

If you remember, this box was done Lasagna Garden style, with old compost on the bottom, a layer of kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy or cooked foods, just fruit and veggie peels and waste and egg shells and coffee grounds- lots of them), then a layer of finished compost and peat moss on top of that. This is the second time I’ve grown my okra like this and it always seems to give good results.

I’d be seriously remiss if I didn’t show off the fruits of last Friday’s labor of digging up all that monkey grass to rescue my yard from sliding into the neighbor’s! I wish I had a “before” pic to show you how bad it looked after the wall was reconstructed. Lots of gravel and huge holes in the ground. This area takes up about 20′ x 3 ‘ so “eye sore” doesn’t quite do it justice. Plus, my neighbor is desperately trying to sell her house to get out of our school district and the ugliness wasn’t helping. 

For the record, I had to dump several bags of top soil out and that still wasn’t enough. They’ve been moving dirt around in our neighborhood this week, so the kids and I took a couple wagons down to a dirt pile and shoveled wagonfulls of fresh dirt and lugged them back to the house. 

It is important that you understand what a feat this was. Seriously. I took the big wagon, with Ezra riding in it, and Arwen and Charis took turns pulling the little wagon. We only had to walk about half a block to get to the nearest dirt pile. I shoveled a whole wagonfull into the big wagon, and the girls got measely amounts into theirs. Ezra was then transferred into the little wagon since mine was full of mounds of dirt. He was really happy to sprinkle all their dirt on the road on the walk home. Once we got to the house, Arwen had to push my wagon from behind, while I pulled, because it was too heavy to get up the little hill and through the grass. What a girl! We did this three times before I knew that I was seriously about to overtax my round little pregnant self. I spread the dirt out, laid out the monkey grass, dug holes, filled them with humus and manure and set the monkey grass in. After all that work, it still looked pretty ugly, but I don’t think the yard is going anywhere now:

I almost didn’t have enough, did I? I laid it thickest at the areas with the worst erosion and crossed my fingers.

I really couldn’t leave it alone though. It just looked weird, so I thought maybe it needed some sort of border. On our walks, we started picking up large rocks (we call them boulders in preschool world here).

It’s a good start. We’ve almost gotten all the way around it. One more trip and I think we’ll be done. I’m not sure what to do down the middle. We are going to eventually put up a fence that will totally block our view of this entire situation, so I don’t want to put too much effort into making it beautiful. (In other words, a row of roses would be a waste of time.) I think it needs to be something that is low maintenance. Really, this was all done for the sole purpose of keeping the yard from falling off the edge like it was, but you know me… why can’t it be efficient and pretty? Maybe I should just mulch down the middle and let the monkey grass fill it all in and be done with it. Who knows? 

I’ve entirely exhausted myself just thinking about all that work now! I’m looking forward to enjoying the fruits of my labor with a summer of fresh produce… I noticed some fruit trees today for sale at Whole Foods and really had trouble walking away from them. Someone please stop me!