Monday, June 1, 2009

The adjustments.

If you were humoring me...er,I mean...if you were joining me at the beginning of my gardening endeavor you might remember that I had come across some wooden shipping containers that were being disposed of. Well, I thought it would be great to rescue them...recycle them...save them from the landfill...and put them to use as raised beds in my temporary garden.
I thought it was the perfect solution to all of my problems. We were on a tight budget...the containers were free. We're hoping to move...the containers were temporary. Our soil is lame...this would hold brand new soil that we would purchase.
Voila. Done. Perfect! Right? Wrong.
At first it was great...the plants seemed happy and comfortable. It looked somewhat organized and tidy. I thought we were really on to something. But then it rained. And it rained. And it rained. Without a bit of sunshine...for...what? 7 days or so? 10 days? I don't know. LOTS of days. And while I loved it...the plants didn't. Slowly they began to turn yellow...at first just the bottom leaves. So, obviously, it's because of too much water. Yellow leaves = too much water. Of course. It was the rain. And now that the sun and the heat were coming everything would even out and perk right back up. Right?
Wrong again. Everything that was in a wooden container continued to turn yellow. Everything. The eggplant and the zucchinis and the nasturtiums. It all sort of paled and then stopped growing new leaves. Everything tried to flower...but it was all very anemic and sickly looking. I kept holding out for improvement...hoping that the sun and heat would eventually kick it all in gear. But nothing. I began to suspect the containers themselves...but wasn't really sure.
Then, in the meantime, the pests were harassing me and eating anything and everything. Between that and the pale greenish yellow of it all...I was very frustrated. Mad.
Well...on Saturday I went to the home of my friend, Stephanie, from church. She and her husband, Richard, have some acreage and a big garden. They've got chickens, too...and have been sharing delicious brown eggs with me over the past year. Well, while I was there Richard was kind enough to give me a garden tour...so I took the opportunity to ask him some questions about ugly yellow plants. I told him what was going on...what we'd done...and how we'd planted a lot of our garden in awesome, recycled pine containers. "Pine?", he asked. ""Yes. Pine." Richard went on to tell me of the time they planted a school yard garden and one of the dads brought in pine shavings as mulch and to choke out weeds. And wouldn't you know it...everything near to these pine shavings turned a pale yellowy green and growth slowed to a pathetic crawl.
Aha! My gardening intuition was right! It was the containers. And while I was extremely frustrated by the waste of time and money and effort...I was mostly relieved to know what the problem was. The pine containers.
I came home and told Chris. And asked if he'd help me make some adjustments in the garden. "Sure! I'd love to!" he replied. Or...something to that effect. It might have been more like a grunt and an "I guess". But who's keeping track? Bottom line is he was willing to help his wife. His wife who always has some sort of something going on in her head and some sort of idea or plan or scheme that somehow always involves needed his help in some way or another. And being the sweet man that he is...he humors me. And he helps. Because he loves me. And I'm grateful.
So, yesterday afternoon, this is what we did.
We moved the pine containers OUT of the garden area...dug directly into our own dirt which wasn't as bad as we thought it would be...and then transplanted the tomatoes and the peppers. We then took all of that dirt from the containers (the dark dirt in the background, up against the house)...that may or may not be healthy...and shoveled it over sheets and sheets of newspaper that we're using to choke out the millions of Four o'Clocks that won't leave me alone. I figure that the dirt will be good to weight down the paper and then work it's way into the existing dirt. And eventually, when we want to plant there, whatever it was about the pine boxes will be gone. I hope.

I think everything looks happier already. I am really hoping that we can salvage these plants. I'm thinking it's possible. But we'll see. Next is the bean container. It's outta here. And I'll just plant some new beans directly into the soil and see how it goes! Wish us luck!

4 comments:

Nancy said...

Hope everything comes up roses (or veggies) for you in your newly adjusted garden. Aren't you glad to know it was the containers? Whew!

dmoms said...

wow, good lesson to learn though. who would have thought

Sojourner said...

Looks really good in the ground!
Well done my urban farming friend!

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Way to stick with it!!