I have to admit, I’ve been a bit discouraged and frustrated in the garden lately. I come home from work to water hot droopy plants like mad for an hour or more until they all perk back up, pulling weeds and brushing away ants and grasshoppers as I go. (And man oh man do we have a serious ant problem.) I feel like progress is so slow though! For whatever reason, I expected my plants to explode into a jungle for awesomeness in a week or two, and I also expected this layered compost mix to keep them nice and evenly wet for at least a week at a time. Neither thing has happened yet, and the watering and waiting isn’t a whole lot of fun.
But today I saw this:
And noticed these:
Okay, so I noticed those two earlier in the week, but still! Maybe I was blinded by my allergies the last few days, or just had too much to do, but stopping to smell the roses (erm… see the baby vegetables?) really lifted my spirits like no other.
Even more pictures can be found HERE! (And don’t worry about bookmarking the album- I’ll permalink it on the home page very very soon.)
So… I think it’s time that I address the elephant in the room (er, yard.) Yes, that 300lb cast iron (but not pretty claw foot) bathtub that’s been sitting in the middle of it all for who knows how long.
Well Monday? I put that thing to work. It now doubles as a shade provider for lettuce, as well as a grow container for two kinds of potatoes. (And after moving it, I kind of wish it was a hot tub instead. I need a massage…)
So I went a lot a little overboard this past weekend with the whole plant buying thing. If you live in LA, never go to Sunset Nursery. No, that’s a lie- it’s quite possibly one of the best mostly organic plant nurseries in the city limits. Let me rephrase that. If you live in LA, never go to Sunset Nursery without a shopping list (or a limited amount of cash in hand.) Their plants are beautiful! I’ve been shopping there for at least 5 years now; they rarely disappoint, and often carry specimens you can’t find anywhere else. I stopped by Saturday… and this is what happened:
The rest of Saturday ended up being pretty shot for pre-4th pool parties, but that was okay… except then Sunday turned into nap time, and by the time I got up to do anything, it was almost 4. (I still managed to pull weeds on the fence end of the garden and finally lay some mulch down over there as well.)
Monday brought another trip out to a few other places. I wanted to build a compost bin but was feeling uninspired, and wanted to plant lettuce in the remaining (fairly shaded) bed, but just didn’t have the patience to only water seeds several times a week. My solution? A trip to the big orange box for flowers and lumber prices, followed by a trip to Armstrong’s for whatever lettuce I could find. (On a side note, I worked there a summer ago in between jobs and always marveled at the produce rotation well into August; I knew if anyone would have a supposedly springtime crop, it would be this garden center.) So this was Monday’s bounty:
In the end, I decided against buying lumber, figuring I could find something that would work just as well around the house (and maybe clean-up some of the random construction garbage that seems to be everywhere in the process.) Saving money and upcycling? I’m for it!
Seriously though… it’s Thursday? Between the three-day weekend and multiple allergy attacks (and antihistamine-induced dreams) over the last 72 hours, time seems to have gotten away from me. I did get a lot of projects done in the last few days though, and will be posting about them shortly.
Anyway… hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend! Apparently we’re getting ready to have another one. Weekend that is. Not Fourth of July again! Ha. (My neighbors finally stopped celebrating that one yesterday. Totally serious.)
Okay then- on with the show!
Throughout the week, I often bookmark articles that I find interesting enough to share at a later date. Hopefully you will find them as thought-provoking and encouraging as I do!
1. Small Space Gardening: 66 Things You Can Grow In Containers(via Planet Green)
I’ve had a handful of friends recently say how much they wish they had the space to grow edibles like I do. Honestly, it wasn’t until about a month ago that I came into such great luck. Prior to the massive amount of outdoor space that I now have, I made a point to grow crops (tomatoes, peas, herbs, root vegetables, and even corn!) in containers and planter boxes on a patio for several years. Whether you’re wondering what else is possible for you to grow wherever you’re at, or if you just don’t know where to begin, Planet Green has a fantastic article on container gardening that will point you in the right direction.
2. Window Farms: Energy Efficient Hydroponics for City Dwellers (via Re-Nest)
I wish I had known a little more about this idea before I moved out of my studio! Even though I got limited daylight, it would’ve been a cool experiment in extreme urban farming. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a patio (or even fire escape) and you’re a fan of DIY projects, this could be a viable option. Made out of mostly recycled materials, people have grown everything from basil to lettuce to even tomatoes in these cool city gardens, and they even offer the design plans on their website for free.
3. “The failure of one thing is repaired by the success of another.” -a belief of Thomas Jefferson (and the Monticello Garden via The New York Times)
I can’t tell you how many mornings in the last week I’ve woken up and gone straight outside only to hover over a squash plant that was leaning the wrong way or a cucumber seedling that was looking weepy. Sometimes even gardeners (especially blogging gardeners!) get so afraid of failure that we work ourselves into a tizzy trying to do it all correctly, organically, inexpensively, beautifully, and with the highest success margin possible. I love reading articles that remind you it’s okay to fail sometimes; as long as you’re adventurous, experimental, push your own limits, and keep on trying, then according to Jefferson… you’re doing it right.
Last night I ended up weeding and mulching the pathway between the two raised beds after I built trellises, planted more vines, and installed the soaker hoses… and I never shot any photos as promised. Ooops.
BUT FEAR NOT!
For I got up bright and early to snap a few quick pictures before I had to run off to work.
You can see the trellises I fashioned out of some rebar that was sitting around the yard in the back of each bed. On the left I made a tipi for the cucumbers and covered it with garden netting. On the right is a bent piece I found that will hopefully trellis some green beans before it gets too hot…
This is the first bit of mulch I put in. (Hoping a super thick layer of newspaper beneath it all will buy me a few more months without weeds!)
And one of the first courgette blossoms on the zucchini plant soaking up some morning rays. (I think that particular word for squash is one of the funniest things, especially since every time I see it I read it as cougarette, which makes me think of miniature OC housewives in training… snarf.)
They told us we might get out of work early tomorrow… crossing fingers over here; I have a compost bin to build!