Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My obsession

Thank you all for the lovely words! My job really won't change now that I'm tenure-track, but I will have year-round benefits and they'll pay me quite a bit more if/when I teach during the summers (not until my kids don't want to spend the summers with me). In a few years, hopefully I'll get tenure and then I'll have more job security as well. I really like my job, so I am thrilled about this!

So what will I spend my summer doing, other than taking care of Patrick and Melkamu? I really like to garden. I have a greenhouse--it was Jason's Mother's Day gift to me several years ago, and we built it together. It was finally finished last year, just in time for us to get hit with a Level 4 drought. Basically, I can't water outside except for a personal vegetable garden. I can also water using reclaimed gray water and/or storm water.

Well then, I thought, I'll buy a rain barrel! A 60-gallon one, good for plenty of watering. We shortened our rain gutter in the front and put the barrel underneath it. After a few weeks and a few good rains, it was completely full. Alas, I used it the other day to water and apparently didn't hook the hose back up properly; at some point that night, the hose fell and the barrel was empty by the next morning. Now my few poor flowers wait for it to refill so that they can be watered again. Thankfully it rained last night (and thankfully, the tornado warning that we were under came to nothing) and they're doing OK. I have alternating impatiens and begonias out front, as well as daisies. There are primroses and pansies up by the mailbox. And the morning glories that I planted last spring have reseeded themselves nicely and are springing up by the fence outside of the greenhouse.

But a vegetable garden--that I could do! Only...well, our land is a wee bit sloped. Laura, think your house except going down from street level. Instead, I'm container gardening. I did the same things I did last first. I have four upside-down tomatoes in hanging baskets, two Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and two Early Girl regular tomatoes. There are herbs growing on top of them. I also have a red bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper growing the same way in my greenhouse, also with herbs growing on top.

I planted new bean plants in my long rectangular planters. Last year's beans were semi-successful, but I attributed their poor yield to the freeze that caught them a few weeks after they were transplanted out there. I also planted two rectangular planters of cucumbers.

Then I expanded a bit from last year. I planted two rectangular planters of Swiss chard, which I love. And then, joy of joys, I found a ton of old 10" and 12" pots out in the garage that I must have bought back when we lived in Columbia!

Instead of 4 tomatoes, we now have 12: the ones mentioned before, a Mr. Stripey, a Better Bush, a yellow pear, a Lemon Boy, two Rutgers, and two Roma. (And, because Jason will call me out if I don't admit my nerdiness, I am taking notes on when they were planted and will note their yields so that I know what to buy next year.) Instead of 2 peppers, we now have 6: the ones mentioned before, another red bell pepper, a green bell pepper, a banana pepper, and a chili pepper.

It's a little ridiculous, but some of the beans are already 3" long and we'll be eating them within a couple of weeks (or sooner). I didn't plant enough of them, so I've planted 10 more seeds of the bush beans that are now growing and another 10 seeds of the pole beans that I grew last year; those will be ready to transplant in a couple of weeks, and producing a month after that.

Fresh veggies are delicious--but I think I might need to learn to can tomatoes by this fall! The nice long growing season down here pretty much ensures another 4 months of veggies, and I actually got peppers into October last year. Yum!


Jess said...

I'm impressed by your FOOD gardening skills. All I ever do is flowers.

And frankly, this year my efforts are pretty puny. The children, Erin!! THE CHILDREN! :)

I'm totally jealous of your long growing season, though. We have a long season here in Ohio, too, but it's a long GRAY COLD YUCKY WEATHER season, ha!

Anonymous said...

LOL - when we go down our hill Max cries "weeeee...." so I feel your pain.