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getting garden ready
sunday, january 16, 2017

so much going on this year that has me ready to to cry or curl up in a ball, but i'm tired of the trump fear and thinking about it all. i'm going to think and write about pleasanter things.

last year, one of the new things we started was container gardening. the idea was that we could save some money on things we use a lot but that are easily grown: peppers, tomatoes, squash. and maybe have more of the things we'd like to have but are usually not in or are harder on the budget: lemons, avocados (though, to be fair, we make room in the budget for those, and a surviving avo tree takes years to produce fruit), berries. now, last year (and likely this year), i doubt money was saved: there was a huge learning curve, a lot of supply buying (non-consumables like the containers as well as consumables like plants, seeds, and soil), and some loss of plants as a result of said learning curve. one thing that it was, though, was fun. and we did get some produce out of it, not a lot (except for hot peppers, oh lordy did we get hot peppers!), but some, and that was pretty neat too.

so we're getting ready to do it again this year. well, mostly it's me. hubs seems to like the idea, contributes ideas for the peppers we grow, but mostly gets bored when i talk about it. he's a little more involved so far this year, so that's a good thing and means "we" at least some of the time. anyway, we're getting ready again, using the info we learned last year, and considering some new plants. last year we did mostly peppers and attempted some others that didn't work out (mostly because of that learning curve).

getting garden ready this early in the year (compared to last year, which was late: you really do need to start early and prepare before actual planting time) means working on trellises for tomatoes and climbers like squash, getting soil and mulching any old soil, setting up crates and/or other containers for the new crop, and so on. i buy soil as i need it, generally, though i have some extra soil from last year that needs mulching or fertilizer added and most of it can't be used for tomatoes, so soil will be the usual on going buy. one other buy will have to wait until the tax return: i need deeper long boxes for the peppers, but the ones i need aren't the relatively "cheap" $10 like the ones i currently have, so, yea, have to wait for the tax return. they will be the priciest part of this year.

so right now, i'm working on trellises and alternative container ideas. for the trellises, i'm using those wire closet shelves. pre-made trellises cost anywhere from $25 to $100 for the sizes i need. the wire shelves that work for what i want cost $10-20 at home depot, and they will cut them in two for me for free. then i cut off the sides so i can remove some of the middle bars to make space for the plants to wind around or be tied to. i get twice the trellis for less than a premade one with a little extra work. and i don't mind the extra work. i do kinda mind the bruises (i have to set the wire cutters against my shoulder to get the leverage to get the cutters closed).

for alternate containers, we tried a milk carton with a corkscrew trellis, but the carton isn't stable enough. hubs helped with this experiment and tried to come up with some ideas to make it work, but we just couldn't figure out something workable for the corkscrews. i still may be able to use them for a different plant, but anything climbing is unlikely. so, for now, i'm going back to the $4 and $5 crates for my tomatoes and squash. because we're adding tomatoes to the smaller crates (we tried larger, but they get too heavy to move, and my porch doesn't get enough sun coverage), i'm going to need to pick up 3 or 4 more for this year (i have 4 for the squash we already have planned). these are cheap and easy pick ups though, and we can get them as we need to—which will be closer to march.

in a month or so (depending on when i can pick up the deeper long boxes), i'll start trying to wake up the peppers we've attempted to over winter. we've lost 2 out of 7 boxes so far (totally browned and dried out), about 5 plants, most are mini-sweet peppers. the nice thing about peppers is that seeds are easy to come by for the common varieties: buy a few from the farmer's market and harvest the seeds. i'm also hoping to give hot chocolates peppers and black pearls a try. hubs loves trying new peppers, and it's one way to get him involved in what's going on, even if it's just cooking the results of the harvest. ;) also want to retry some of last years "failure" peppers: cubanelles and paprikas.

some other plants we want to try: cherry tomatoes and romas (both among last year's failures, but both with easy to grab seeds), black pearl and blueberry cherry tomatoes, the squash we had some issues with last summer (butternut, yellow, and zucchini) as well as honeynut, sweet dumpling, delicata, and kabocha squash, all which depend on what seeds i can get without too much trouble or cost. we're replanting avo seeds (i killed our successful plant—too much salt in a fertilizer i used too much of at once), mini-sweets, purples, and most the other sweet peppers. i also want to eventually have figs, lemons, blackberries, dragon tongue beans, corn, and maybe some smaller melons. plus some herbs (which all tanked last year in a sudden heat spike). and yes, all these can be grown in containers. there are mini-type plants, and some can handle georgia's colder winters.

and, yes, i'm really excited to get back to the gardening and expanding a bit (i may have a lot listed, but i suspect i'll have to pick and choose what to grow because of space, time, and money). i've missed the garden this winter, even with the over wintering peppers (who look really sad and need next to no work). next year, if youngest has moved out like she plans, we'll finish transforming the dining area into a plant room (we bought a grow light just before she moved back in with us) and might be able to keep some of them growing and producing through at least some of the winter (it'll depend on how cold the apartment gets since i can't hike the heat up too much without risking an insane electric bill). considering my experience with cactus as a kid, it's kind of surprising that i like it so much and that my peppers were so successful last year.

you can see last year's growing and this year's garden ready work at my instagram.


word of the moment: tyrolean :: soft green felt hat with a feather or brush hatband ornament; of or relating to or
characteristic of the Tyrol or its people

currently reading fiction: jaran / half-off ragnarok / the fifth season / wickedly wonderful / kitty and the midnight hour
non-fiction: love, laugh, eat

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