Friday, April 15, 2011

Planning the garden, missing Grandpa Fred and some helpful books.

Can you say "salsa"? Pepper and tomato
plants waiting patiently to be planted.
Last weekend we expanded the garden. Instead of roughly 130 sq. ft. of dirt we now have about 480 sq. ft. of dirt. WOW! This is huge for me...considering when I very first began trying my hand at gardening (15 years ago) I was working with one raised bed measuring 4x4 feet! I did square foot gardening before it was even should have seen how much I crammed into that tiny space!

I have to wasn't a success. At all. So I gave up.


We went to visit Chris' grandparents at their home in a small town in Ohio about 6 years ago. It was an amazing time for our whole family. We all have very fond memories of that family trip. It was so much fun. It was the first time I'd met Grandpa Fred...and I felt loved and accepted instantly. I was able to spend some time in Grandpa's garden...pulling weeds and helping him harvest the garlic. I made the mistake of asking him if he'd ever grown flowers in his garden. His reply, and you've heard me quote it before, "Why grow it if you can't eat it?" (He may or may not have tossed in an expletive for effect. ;) Grandpa Fred went to heaven three years ago....three years ago today as a matter of fact. We really miss much.

I especially miss him during gardening season...he was a wealth of information about gardening. He gardened his whole life...BIG gardens. But as he got older and his battle with MS got a little harder he narrowed his growing choices to tomatoes, garlic and horseradish. And each year he and Grandma would make their famous (literally in their small town...this sauce was highly coveted by many. :) tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce and spicy horseradish. Each year around this time, as I start to plan our garden, I inevitably have questions and my first thought is, "I wish I could call Grandpa."

Thanks to Grandpa I decided to try my hand at gardening again. Over the next few years I planted a few things here and there. A tomato plant or two...a cucumber vine and a few beans...and with each attempt and small success my confidence grew. Then  a few years ago God had gave me 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12...and I knew it was time to garden on purpose. I planted a few more tomatoes, a few more peppers, some cucumbers and nasturtiums...the basics. And this time, it was a success. We grew a bonafide garden. We grew our own food. It was awesome and I was hooked.

Back to this year's garden: thanks to the help of my husband and the boys, we have a larger garden area. And now that it's a reality I can't quite decide what to plant and where! Part of the problem is that dang pecan tree...and not knowing when it will be trimmed back (issues with the power company and dangerous power lines, etc...lots of phone messages being left and waiting on return calls..) and exactly how much more sun the tree trim will actually allow in.

Oh cherry plum tree, such a thorn in
our side. Keep it? Or chop it?
Not to mention the small cherry plum tree that is in the back corner of the garden. Should I just get rid of it because it doesn't produce tasty fruit? Or give it a year...trim it...fertilize it...and see if it improves? (Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.)

In the meantime, I need to get some vegetables in the ground! Especially the ones that we bought last weekend to take advantage of the sale at the hardware store. We got 6 pepper plants and 4 tomatoes...can you say, "homemade salsa"? I can! My husband has honed his salsa making skills...makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Mm, mm, mm...can't wait!

I love garden planning. I have planned gardens and landscapes for years. I pull out my beloved graph paper...and the colored pencils. I open up the garden catalogs and the stack of garden books I've collected and spread them out all over the table. And then...I plan the perfect garden...on paper. It's always perfect on paper! But not until now has the big, perfect garden become a possible reality. And now I don't know what to do!!

So I just decided to do what I've always done. Get out the graph paper...and the pencils...and the stack of garden catalogs and books. The books I am currently using are Carrots Love Tomatoes, The Backyard Homestead and The Kitchen Garden. (More on The Kitchen Garden tomorrow! It's my new favorite gardening book! It's amazing...) Sounds like a recipe for a beautiful vegetable garden. Now, if I could just get this darn pecan tree taken care of we'd be in business!

Do you already have some food in the ground?
Seeds started?
How's your garden planning coming along?
And what should I do with that crazy little cherry plum tree?


Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

I am so against choping trees down. If you planted scarlette runner beans around the base, it would provide a natural climb for them. Why not ask someone at a nursery about the tree and what you might do to help it produce edible fruit. Maybe they know what to do.

teekaroo said...

You've got me missing my grandpa. We really are losing a generation of "know-how" people. I feel like I'm re-learning everything that should already be known.
I generally have several plans each year. It takes a few tries to actually put down what is possible. Things have changed so much this spring, I've had a hard time getting things set.

WhiteStone said...

Kale, lettuce, beets, spinach, garlic planted.

Do not cut down the little tree. It will provide a small area of pleasant shade when it gets hot this summer!

Christina said...

oh this salsa talk has got me going. i adore homemade salsa!! here in wi there was a bit of snow, so we might not see anything green, until june. deep june. ; ) umm, i so want some of your peppers.
what a pretty tree.