A day off after a few weeks of working in the city. I have to go back to the city tomorrow and the day after, but wanted to grab this day and get some gardening done before the rain. I am EVER hopeful concerning rain...although the rain chance is only 30%, I feel certain we'll get something in the way of precipitation. There has been no sunshine today. Dark clouds and cooler temps all day. I would love a full fledged rainstorm, I will settle for a day of drizzle.
I measured my garden yesterday, curious about it's actual size in square feet. It is small (and feeling smaller all the time) at 45 feet by 45 feet. I decided that, in order to get all I want to grow in that small space, that I needed to think vertically. GO UP. Or Grow Up. Which is probably appropriate in many areas of my life. I built a new raised bed last year that, until the Great Freeze of 2011, held my plantings of kale. Most all the kale froze, in fact I lost most everything in the garden except a bed of spinach that had just come up (maybe 1" high and mulched very heavily). So now there was an empty bed waiting for new plantings. I knew I wanted to grow my beans up poles and my cukes up fencing, so I combined the two and this is what the kale bed has become.
It is hard to tell, but the cross pole that goes from teepee to teepee (I am taking liberty calling that bunch of poles a teepee, but you get the idea, right?) has fencing attached to it that reaches the ground. The beans will be planted around the base of each pole to grow up. The cucumbers will be planted at the bottom of the wire to climb up. I had great luck last year growing cukes up wire fencing. So for now, since it is not anywhere near time to plant beans and cukes, I planted sugar snap peas along the bottom of the fencing. They will climb up the same as cukes and be easy to pick. I soaked way too many pea seeds. I do this EVERY year and at planting time complain about having too many seeds and nowhere to plant them. But you know, I NEVER complain when it's time to pick and eat them. Indeed, last year Nisa had a great blog post on The Cooks We Are on eating pea shoots (she made a gorgeous omelet with pea shoots) and I promised myself I would plant extra just for the shoots. So after planting seeds on both sides of the wire fencing, I still had a full bowl of fat soaked pea seeds. Now, necessity is the mother of invention, or so I am told, so I went back to last years "invention" for something for peas to climb on. This ranch of ours has piles all around. Building materials, gardening materials, car and motorcycle parts. We are somewhat organized, but a pile is a pile and it still really gets to me sometime. But there are times when I am so grateful for a pile. Indeed, the entire bean/cuke set up above was built from materials salvaged from "piles" (except for 4 of the bamboo poles I snagged from my friend Stuart's farm during a visit last weekend). Last year, when planting my pea bed, I found a bunch of lampshade "frames" (I know there is another name for them, but I can't think what it is). They were rusted, but there were about a dozen nested together and with very little effort they all pulled apart. Stacked offset on top of one another they made great cages for the pea vines to climb. After using them last year, I simply nested them again and put them by the tool shed. So out they came this afternoon and now they are in another bed with peas planted all around them. As the peas grow I will add more lampshades on top.
So at this point; spinach, onions, beets, broccoli raab and radishes are up. Peas are planted and I have lots of seeds ready to go into the ground. I once read a quote about planting a garden being the supreme sign of hopefulness. I believe that is true. These days the garden pulls me out most every morning to see how my tiny plants are coming along. I get a thrill to see the first true leaves on the spinach and the radishes beginning to swell at their base. Just outside my bedroom door, the garden overflows with hopefulness.