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The Madness Is Upon Me

I really need to start a master list of plants I’ve given up on.

It would be much more useful than “plants I’ve killed and will try again” which is a very very long list at this point.

Also, when I make stark declarations in the middle of August that I am DONE this is MADNESS and from now on I will grow nothing but tomatoes and basil in the vegetable garden GODDAMNIT, I really need to write that down and perhaps have it witnessed, because here I am at the end of January wondering if I’ve got room for those dwarf snow peas after all.

And the vegetables are the easy part. When Prairie Nursery and Prairie Moon Nursery send out their catalogs and I find myself going “Why do I not have ramps? Ramps would be a great idea!” and drooling over the blue cohosh (which is a very expensive plant to possibly kill, and I am a bit nervous) I need a clear, laid out plan that says “This goes here. Nothing else will fit.”

Actually, what I need is a sign taped to my computer saying “YOU HAVE NO PLACE TO PUT IT SO PUT THE CATALOG DOWN.” That would cover most eventualities.

I should not be thinking of blue cohosh. I should be thinking vines. I have space for vines. I made space for vines. I’m thinking two Carolina jessamine, then a coral honeysuckle, then two jessamine, then a coral honeysuckle in the full sun area. Might mix it up with American bittersweet in the shadier sections. I do not need wild cucumber. It’s an annual and not edible anyway. WHY DO YOU TAUNT ME, CATALOG?

There are so many empty places in the garden. They never warn you that you will live with eyesores for years and years and years, that parts will be gloriously lush and other parts will still be a dead zone under pine trees, that lots are scraped and that stuff isn’t DIRT, it’s subsoil and self-respecting plants won’t grow in that and it’s really not your fault, that your yuccas will grow in the moss and the moss will grow in the yuccas and both will apparently be happy and dear god what is wrong with this picture?

This is the season where I stare at the garden and realize how many things need fixing and how many things I am completely unequipped to fix. I realize what a large garden I have made and how many years it’s going to take to fill it. (All the years. All of them.) I am simultaneously paralyzed by too much space in which hardly anything will grow (that grove of oaks and hickories and all those cedars! Mature trees one might kill for, and I stare at them and wish they were ten feet back on the other side of the fenceline!) and too little space in which nearly anything would grow, having painstakingly hauled manure and topsoil and mulch for multiple years to make it habitable.

I want a cottage garden that overflows with exuberance, and did not realize how often that meant that an exuberant plant would eat its weaker neighbors. I want to grow fascinating vegetables and end up having to glove up and root out the cardoons which were supposed to be annuals, goddamnit, and why did no one mention that they will re-seed like Satan on a bender?

And can I grow artichokes in a whiskey barrel?

And why did I wait so long to discover ferns? Why did no one beat me over the head with ferns until I listened?

And why are there never enough tomato cages? They work great for pea trellises—by the time the peas are dead of heat stroke, the tomatoes are just starting to need cages. Chop the peas at the roots, move the cage three feet, there you go. Except that I need more tomato cages so I can grow more peas.

And why is it only January, when there’s so much gardening to be done?

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

Damned Heirloom Seed Catalog

I ordered scallop squash...I don't even eat squash.

But wild cucumbers are supposed to be gloriously fragrant and I really, really need to find a source of seeds for them because even though I have no space for them I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeddddddddd them!

(Deleted comment)
Oh year. It's good that we're getting snow because otherwise I'd be trying to build a better raised bed out of a scrap particleboard bookcase. I don't have dirt to fill it. I don't care. I could get EVEN MORE CARROTS.

I just ordered electric horse fencing. To keep the deer out of my veggies. so I can grow $10 worth of beans and peas.

Best thing I ever did for tomato support was Mel Bartholomew's standing trellis design from _Square Foot Gardening_. Drive 2 upright sections of steel pipe into the ground. Slip a loop-top tent stake into the top of each one, and run another section of pipe through the loops, making a crossbar across the top. Hang netting or twine from crossbar. It's STRONG (unlike a tomato cage) and you can reach all the tomatoes (unlike a tomato cage) and it's trivially easy to take apart and requires almost no storage space (unlike a tomato cage). Works nicely in a raised bed or long planter box.

Also works beautifully for climbing beans and peas (sugar snap peas! snow peas! scarlet runner beans!). When they're done you can just cut down the twine and dead vines together and (if you used biodegradable twine) fling the whole thing in the compost pile.

It's really remarkable how the gardening urge strikes with such reliability at the tail end of January.

I'm also baffled by how I have far too much and yet never enough space. My yarden is waaaay too big for me to take care of -- I'm going to hire a friend next week to clean out a bunch of stuff just so I can see where I need to work -- and there still isn't room for the plants I want! Especially the sun ones. *sigh*

yes you can grow artichokes in a barrel... also asparagus

Oooooh, asparagus! I may have to try that!

The house we bought has very little sun exposure. Most of it falls on the driveway and a narrow strip of LANDSCAPING ROCKS between the driveway and the neighbor's lawn. I tried a raised-bed which was then promptly taken over by the raspberries so I am relegated to container gardening at this point. This is probably not a bad thing, as I am one of those people who wants to plant ALL THE THINGS and then doesn't have the time to take care of them once summer actually happens.

Hey, it may be only January, but we just had upper 50s to record-setting 70 degree temps for nearly a whole week, here in Kansas. With weather like that, who DOESN'T get bitten by the gardening bug?

And then 3 inches of snow last night. >.< PICK ONE.

Gave the catalogs away, post your blog to FB and my friends now want to do a seed exchange. But there's this:


But what about vervain and chervil?


We just had freakin' tons of rain out here in AZ and my brain's going "The ground is soft, you can PLANT STUFF-- what about some new rosemary bushes and some santolina? You could order a couple of cubic yards of descented sheep-manure, right? And now that you've got the fence finished you could, y'know, put that shade-screen stuff up and not have to worry about sunburned veggies anymore... It's fine, it won't be THAT expensive, you knooooooow you want to do it....." And yet I know we'll get at least one or two more hard freezes and I shouldn't do ANY of the above for at least three more weeks. Why, brain, why?

Oh, those freezes... I'm in Phoenix and minimized my losses in the deep cold we just went through, but I can't stop holding my breath... silly weather's been up and down since and every morning I go out worried I missed covering before a frost!

We are just getting into gardening and have bought seeds to start indoors. It's rather daunting to say the least and I may inadvertantly cause a plant genocide even with the best of intentions. To any future seedlings, I'm sorry, in advance. We want to grow our own vegetables. Here's to hoping at least something grows and bears edibles.

Oh, don't worry. The road to gardening is paved in plant corpses. The plants know this. They overseed for a reason.

I don't buy plants, usually.. they sort of just turn up and I give them space. Seriously, most of them I've had to google to figure out what they are, because I didn't plant them here. Which does tend to mean that they at least survive.

I really want to get some old pallets and try building some trellis like this: http://cdn.designrulz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Pallet-Furniture-5.jpg
I'm more of an engineer than a gardener really..

Edited at 2013-01-30 09:10 pm (UTC)

I know you're trying to mostly stick with natives, but daffodils seem to do pretty well under pine trees. At least in Missouri.

I think my husband is willfully forcing himself to forget that soon, soon! The seed trays will emerge from storage. And my regular houseplants get crammed into whatever space they'll fit while trays of seeds fill the windows. I'm debating setting up a shoplight for the tomatoes.

He already did the Long Suffering Sigh* and pointed out it was still January when I examined Lowes' early seed offerings.

I have made an order to rareseeds for the fun colored stuff. Purple carrots, yellow tomatoes, and so on.

*He is not actually bothered by any of it, but he enjoys pretending to be annoyed at it to tease me.