Thursday, May 04, 2006

Home & Garden

I was planning on a major garden expansion this summer, but those plans are now thwarted. I’ve got too much on my plate.

First is the business. As I previously wrote on this blog, we’ve had some staffing changes. I’ve taken on more duties.

Second, I’m trying to complete some much-needed home repairs. I need to devote a few hours a week, and later I’ll need to devote several full days.

All of these tasks need to be squeezed into the existing weekly newspaper routine.

So instead of a giant garden, I decided to keep it small. Earlier this week I planted a 4’x8’ plot, which is inside a raised bed. Crops include two different types of lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, green onions, parsley, basil, beans and broccoli.

A few feet away is another raised bed the same size. Half of it is under a greenhouse covered in plastic. In a week or two, I’ll buy some tomato starts and plant them.

And that’s it. That’s the garden for this year.

Not much. But by late June, I should have an abundance of salad fixings. About an hour before dinner, I’ll walk out, pick what we need, wash it and make a salad. That’s about as fresh as it gets.

This is how it was last year. Even in that small space, there was often too much produce. Some of the lettuce couldn’t be picked fast enough.

It’s amazing what you can grow in a small space. I’ve heard people complain that they can’t garden because they don’t have the space. In all but a few cases, that’s nonsense. If you have room for three of those half barrels, you can probably grow enough salad makings for one person.

The key is what’s called “The Square Foot Method.” Check your local library. I don’t know if it’s still in print, being that the guy on the cover of my edition is wearing a Le Tigre shirt.

I was working this evening on an unrelated project – clearing soil back from the garage. I live on a slight slope, and whoever built the addition to my garage had his head stuck up his ass. He did everything wrong. The plywood on the roof was put on there in the wrong direction, so that it sags in the middle! Had he rotated the plywood 90 degrees, this would NOT be a problem. He also used regular shingles on a flat roof! That caused leakage. This was repaired, but problems persist.

I recently pulled the ceiling off. I was trying to make sense of his framing technique. Weird. It works, but it doesn’t make sense.

The addition was built with the foundation at a lower level than the rest of the garage. Soil is up to the level of the siding! More problems. So this evening I began the process of clearing the soil away. It’s good old fashion shovel work.

After completing one side of the garage, I had a nice, even, smooth strip of soil with southern exposure.

This is when I got an idea. Why not plant a flower garden. So I cleared several other areas around my two shacks (house and detached garage) and then marched on down to the Kmart.

For about $12, I was able to purchase two bags of wildflower seeds. One bag claimed to be a “hummingbird & butterfly” mix that would attract these creatures. The other bag was just “wildflowers.”

Heck, the bags probably contain the same ingredients. Either way, the two bags together contain about 11,000 seeds. That’s a lot of flowers.

They were planted and watered.

It’s hard to say how much progress will be made on these repair projects. I may get them done in a month, two months, or maybe five years.

But the flower garden should bloom in a month or two. It’s kind of like Queen Elizabeth’s jewels – they distract you from her face. Hopefully the flowers will do the same to my house. It will look sweet and homey – never mind the peeling paint and termite-infestation.

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