Apr 16, 2014

Adventures in Gardening - Pt. 2 Soil Test

With the location decided, hubby took on the chore of ripping up the sod to reveal our wonderful (if you want to make bricks) Alabama red clay.  

  While he did the grunt work, I did a soil test. 

PH -on the acid side of neutral.
Nitrogen- non-existant.
Phosphorus- plenty
Potash- good enough

This soil is better than the soil at our old house which in addition to being the same lovely clay was more acidic and had an assortment of construction debris, tree roots, and rocks.

Up Next:  Rules for Gardening with Clay 

Apr 14, 2014

Adventures in Gardening - Pt. 1

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd tell you later about my adventures in gardening.  Well, it's later!

We've been in this house nearly a year and a half now, without really changing or adding anything new to the existing landscape.  That whole time, I've been itching to get my hands in some dirt and plant something.  

This year, as Spring was first trying to spring, I felt the overwhelming need to scratch that itch, but how?  
Flowers?  Herbs?  Vegetables? 

Then, it was obvious. We enjoyed the fresh veggies from our fall CSA so much last fall, but at an average of $40 a week, it wasn't cheap.  

"What if we plant our own veggie garden?"  
 At the old house we had an herb garden, and occasionally grew beans and tomatoes there.  But that was for fun, this would be for food.  
"Could we actually do it?"
 "It would so much work and we'd have to invest some money.  But not as much as a full or even half share of our CSA. " 
"It might be fun."

I got the hubby and kids on board, and it was settled.  I just had to pick the spot and make a plan.

This is the spot we chose. It's our only open bit of fence and runs along the ENE edge of our lot.  

The fence prevents the garden from getting the early morning's sun, but somewhere around 10:00, the sun starts peeking over the top.  From then until dusk, the spot is bathed in full unfiltered sunlight. 
The ground here has a very slight slope which should help with drainage, and we never use this part of the yard for anything, but it is close enough to our house, water hose, and gardening tools to make it convenient.  It's also easily viewed from the back of the house and driveway so every time we come and go we'll be reminded to tend it. 

Up Next:
Adventures in Gardening Pt. 2 - Soil Test

Apr 10, 2014

Birhouse Gourds - also for the birds

Last year, I planted bird house gourds along our only open section of fence, and aside from scattering some wild flower seed, it was the only bit of planting I did.  

Apparently, they liked the location.  They grew beautifully climbing along the fence with such vigor that my neighbor told me her husband thought that we'd planted Kudzu on the fence.  After assuring her that the vines were not Kudzu, but rather Birdhouse gourds, she was relieved.  Not wanting to be a bad neighbor, I would sneak into their yard when they weren't home to coax the vines back on our side, and cut back the pesky bits that didn't want to cooperate.  

By fall,I had about 10 nice sized gourds which I set aside to dry.  My inexperience with the drying process led to a few issues with moldy gourds that had to be tossed, so by Winter, I was down to 6.  The first sunny days of spring, I scrubbed the gourds clean and cut holes in them with a hole saw.   Most fared well, but one broke, giving me a nice opportunity to turn it into a scoop for potting mix.

Next, I painted the gourds with white exterior paint to reflect the hot summer sun so baby birds don't cook. 

On a whim, I decorated 3 of them.  I'm not sure they'll attract any birds, but at least they're nice to look at.