Monday, May 26, 2014

My, How My Garden Grows!

With all the trees in my back yard, it's been years since I've been able to grow a garden.  In fact, the last really good garden I had was in 1997, the year Chandler was born.
I'd tried a few times over the years since, but between heat, work, and all the tree shade in my back yard, they just didn't produce.
Two years ago, the power line people cut all the trees in the back yard along the fence, so last year I put in one 4x4 raised bed to see what would happen.  That was in May, the same month both tornadoes hit Moore.  Needless to say, not much gardening got done with all the repairs that were necessary to the house and yard.
The new fence at the side of the house is one of those additions.
But that little 4x4 raised bed produced a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.  I overloaded it and it still put out a crop of veggies.
So this year, I put in another five raised beds and they're all doing well.  The grass, however, leaves much to be desired, but since it was all torn up last year to put in the new gas line, I'm not surprised.
Sherry also wanted a grape arbor put in.  Our gate is wider than anything I could find a kit for, so I had to design one for us.  I looked at a lot of them, showed them to Sherry, and figured out what we liked best (it had to have places to hang lanterns for me!).  Then I put my ninth grade drafting skills to work and laid out a blueprint, figured out the necessary board feet, and we went to Lowe's.
While Sherry cut the boards (I don't necessarily cut the same length twice, but she does), I dug in the garden and put in the trellises above.  They're anchored with six inches of concrete with six inches of soil on top of that so plants can grow more easily and the trellises won't just blow over -- or away.
We put the arbor together and Sherry painted it (another skillset she has that is much better than mine), and I found lanterns I liked.  I think the end result turned out pretty spectacular.
Since we've added the arbor, I now see I've gotta replace that back yard fence.  I've got plans and I hope to get it done this summer.  It'll be a white picket fence that should look pretty nifty.
The arbor is buried a foot deep and also has six inches of concrete to anchor it.  The lanterns look great at night, but I haven't gotten any good pictures of them yet.
Those pictures were taken in April and it's now the end of May.  Here are some more current pictures of the plants so you can see how much they've grown.
These are cucumbers that I'll train to climb the trellis for easy harvesting.  I'm also growing three varieties of grape tomatoes and cantaloupes on the other trellises.  The cantaloupes are trickier because you have to train them AND make hammocks or use mesh bags for the fruit when growing them vertically.
Ah, gardening AND engineering!  I love a challenge.  And I've done this before with some success.
The peppers are already putting on as well, and I know I should probably pinch them off to let the plant grow bigger, but I'm hopeful.
The grape tomatoes are producing as well.
And the other tomatoes (a half-dozen kinds because that's the way I roll) are growing a lot too.
Usually Sherry ends up having to take care of everything after I finish digging in the dirt, but I find that going to the back yard and watering the plants, then doing some weeding (got the weed-eater out last night and straightened the lines around the raised beds) actually relaxes me.
I used to go to the used book shop to poke around to relax during the day, then come back to the writing.  These days I just hate the traffic everywhere, so I make the most out of the back yard.  As you can see, a bench was also put in the back yard.
Now if the summer heat doesn't kill everything, I'll be happy!


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