Monday, March 26, 2007

Sometimes a Gardener Needs to Destroy Plants

I am not one of those who believe all plants are sacred. Some of them are just a nuisance and a waste of good growing area.

So it had to happen sooner or later. The monster in the backyard had been appeased and ignored long enough. it had even been coaxed and cajoled to no effect. Today was the day.

No more negotiation, no more Miss Nice Girl.

I called in the big guns, the tree service. Three young men with chain saws and a giant chipper. The Laurel Hedge, aka, the beast, needed to be tamed. It had claimed 3 or 4 feet of our backyard as well as 3 feet and all the sun from our neighbors. It stood at least 25 feet high and showed no signs of stopping.

So in a couple of hours it was turned into a sedate swath, a polite wall. I hope I'll be able to keep up with it. I know it will try to recreate all the mass it lost today. Everyone will get more sun. The power lines and cable will no longer be in peril. We'll have more planting area in the backyard and maybe a place to sit and enjoy the winter sun.

Now we just need to get rid of the creepy hot tub and the rotting deck.

Upwards and onwards.

Friday, March 23, 2007

100% Sprouting on Basil Seedlings!

Basil is up. All of them, eight plants so far, after thinning. I will probaly start some more in a week or 2 for insurance and to have plants to give away. The neighborhood should be awash in fresh basil this summer.

Borage and Brussel Sprouts are up too. I'll move them to slightly larger pots and start acclimatizing them to the outside world soon. Yes, yes, I know it is probably too soon, but it just feels like it is time.

Yesterday I planted Sunflowers and Foxglove, as well as Cilantro and some Lettuces.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Eyes on the Prize

These are San Marzano Roma tomatoes from last year's garden. These plants were prolific, even though I crowded them a little. The tomatoes were not great for slicing, but made wonderful sauce and were fantastic for drying. I have started seeds for a few plants for this year.

Eggplant from the 2006 crop. Beautiful, tender, fresh. These were great grilled and stir fried and cooked to soft perfection in curries.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Farming in the City

Here's a link to an article I saw on The Energy Bulletin.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Farming in the City

I spent most of this past weekend moving compost around the farm. I really enjoyed it and I am even more excited about the coming growing season. Even though this part was mostly just hard labor it was good food for the soul. Now I have rich, black mounds of new compost adorning my raised beds and new flower beds in several spots around the yard. I split a 7 yard load with 2 of my neighbors, which made it really economical.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Planning for Apples and Persimmons

Okay, I cut my finger doing it, but I grafted 3 new trees for my garden last weekend. A Fuyu Persimmon, a Hudson's Golden Gem apple, and a Cox's Orange Pippen. I also have an Empire apple that I grafted a couple of weeks ago when I learned how to graft.

Hopefully the fruit will taste as good as the names sound. All 4 trees will take about 3 years before they begin to bear fruit

Persimmon is particularly underrated. The orange orbs decorate the tree late into fall after the leaves have fallen. The fruit can be enjoyed crisp like an apple in salads or with cheese. Once it is more fully ripe it can be used in baked goods and puddings.

Persimmons have a rich, deep flavor, maybe like a combination of melon and pear. And when you slice them laterally they have the most beautiful star pattern inside.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Building a Fruit Tree

Tomorrow my local Home Orchard Society is holding their annual scion exchange. A bunch of fruit tree enthusiasts get together and trade sticks. Well that's what it will look like, but there will be something magic happening too.

A scion is a piece of wood from a particular variety of tree, let's say apple. When that piece of scion wood is grafted onto a rootstock a tree is made. I've been wanting to add fruit trees to my garden so a few weeks ago I learned how to do a simple whip and tongue graft. I made an Empire Apple Tree on dwarf root stock. The apples will be normal size, but the tree will be small, appropriate for my small yard. Dwarf trees will bear fruit sooner than full size trees too.

The main problem is choosing from hundreds of varieties of apples, pears, cherries, figs, persimmons, and berries. I know I want unusual varieties, heirloom varieties, beyond that I'll have to let the experts guide me.

Like most big scale agriculture fruit production is limited to a few mainstream varieties. But it is important for biodiversity to preserve the lesser known varieties. Home orchardists help to keep obscure or forgotten varieties in existence. Who wouldn't want to be able to offer their frinds and family something unique, something you can't find in the grocery store, maybe even a piece off history.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I Just Couldn't Wait Any Longer...

Saturday and Sunday were dry so I did it. I planted seeds, the first of this season. In the 2 raised beds in my front yard I planted a couple of rows of each of the following:
turnip greens
chard (Bright Lights)
sweet peas
I have been so anxious to start gardening this spring, and with the unseasonably warm weather it was just too much to resist. Hopefully we won't have too many more frosty nights. I can't wait for the sprouts to start coming up. This is addictive.