This spring, I planted my first garden in 5 years – a 450 sq. ft. outdoor classroom that has been, so far, both a joyful and frustrating experience (see my photos at My Big Fat 2010 Garden, http://phoenixpermaculture.ning.com/photo/albums/my-big-fat-2010-ga...).
The joy has been creating this wonderful space for Mother Nature’s lessons to be revealed. The first step was working with Brian, my spouse, a remodeling contractor, to define and fence the space. Next came hauling to the garden spot in an old wheelbarrow at least a thousand pounds of rocks, bricks, soil, needed to build four raised beds – and the satisfaction of doing close to 100% of the work myself. To create garden structures, I re-purposed quite a number of materials – some from Brian -- including a wrought iron bed frame, a wine barrel, an empty tile pallet, and more. Next came crawling around on the ground to install irrigation lines. The day I planted the first seeds took me to a whole new level of joy, exceeded only by seeing the first seedlings to emerge from the richly amended soil.
In the 60 days that have passed since the first planting day, bliss and joy have had a companion, frustration, because the seedlings haven’t thriving quite as I had expected. Several insights follow:
- Proper watering has emerged as the biggest challenge, with some plants getting almost too much water, while others are not getting enough;
- A 3’ metal probe to check watering depth is now one of this gardener’s new best tools (thanks to the Garden Guy’s Extreme Gardening book, http://www.gardenguy.com/shop/books/index.html, I now know what to do to address my watering challenges!);
- Melon seedlings need to be watered differently than I have been doing it (I found this out today -- in Extreme Gardening);
- Baby rabbits and ground squirrels can squeeze through the individual cells in chicken wire (much to my chagrin and at the expense of my precious okra plants!); and
- Next planting season, I will plant a much larger number of nursery-grown plants, rather than over 99% seeds. This will provide both the instant gratification of established plants and time to nurture seeds.
Frustrations and all, My Big Fat 2010 Garden continues to provide more fun than should be legal while playing in dirt – plus, the least expensive therapy ever – dirt therapy!
This is the first of the occasional blog posts that I will write – but only when I have something to say. I welcome comments, as well as gardening tips, from fellow community members.