Sunday, October 23, 2005

Garden summary

One million bulbs (or so it feels like, anyway), several million annuals to pull out, herbs to cut back, mulch to cover the gardens like a warm blanket for the winter.

Before I get into the meat of the summary, I want to wax philosophical for a bit. I've really truly been enjoying the harvest season - the feeling of growing and using my own foods. I've had an abundant crop of tomatoes and green peppers, of basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, and peppermint. Now, I don't have the foggiest how to use the sage, rosemary, and peppermints to their best advantage, but hey.. that will come with time. I've also got an abundance of lavender (for pretty smells) and golden marguerite (for dyeing). And there will be so much more next year when other herbs are sufficiently grown. It's just so deeply satisfying to do for oneself, to create usefully.

I have to wonder.... what is it about modern life that this fills so deep a crevice in my psyche?


On with the summary then....

Starting with the shed garden (to the right of the back door):
We had Elderberry and Grape, and a few annuals in a little 6' by 2' space. The Elderberry is a large bush, and not suited to a space that's only 2' wide. So Neil moved it out to the fenceline nearest the neighbour's. And I put a few bulbs in there - tulips and anemones. My hope is that when the tulips and anemones are done, in May or thereabouts, I can add tomatoes. It will be handy having them close to the house when I need a tomato to cook with.

Moving on to the round garden on the left of the back door:
Last weekend, I pulled up all the annuals so I could get a feel for how the herbs were doing. The lemon thyme, being a low-lying plant, had been largely shaded by the explosive annuals and surrounding other herbs. So it didn't take off in quite the same way as the others.

This weekend, we moved the woad and weld because they will need space to expand if I'm going to have enough to dye with. The woad will actually need a new plant next year, because it's a biannual, and it's usefulness in dyeing is in it's first year. So I'll need to always have at least one plant in it's first year.

The wormwood got moved because it's a monster plant. Chest-high and at least 3' wide. It dominated the entire space. [pretty 'though - Neil]

So now I had a garden with big holes where the woad, weld and wormwood had been, and where the annuals had been - time for more bulbs! Again, when the tulips die back in the late spring, I can add tomatoes and green peppers.

I will probably also need to replace the pennyroyal and rosemary, because they are listed as tender perennials for this region, but I won't know until next year. An herbalist friend in the area thinks the pennyroyal might survive but the rosemary is probably toast.

We harvested lavender and rosemary and parsley from this garden. The parsley has already been dehydrated and put in the spice jars. The lavender and rosemary are in grocery bags on the table in the mudroom, waiting for me to recoup energy to deal with them.

Moving on again to the triangular and inside the driveway fenceline gardens:
We chopped back the applemint and peppermint and sage. Some which we saved, and hence harvested. Some of which we just tossed in the compost bin.

We pulled out the remains of the basil. There wasn't much left after I'd harvested it last weekend.

We split the irises and moved some of them.

And then planted yet more bulbs. :)

These are all relatively new, or recently expanded garden spaces, so the more planting the merrier right now.

Moving on once again to the former vegetable garden:
What was once a big rectangular traditional vegetable is now going to become a mix of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

This is the space where the woad, weld, wormwood and the split-off irises were moved.
And we also moved in a cherry tree that is about 3 years old, and 5' tall.

I've become a big fan of growing tomatoes and green peppers, and herbs. But the corn just hasn't taken for the past 2 years so I'm going to give up on it next year. Of course that rationale doesn't apply to the rhubarb - I'll try that again next year in yet a different space. Some things just have different, entirely irrational priorities. :)

Peas and beans are always nice, and usually reliable, but they take up so much space. I don't know what I'll do with them next year. Cucumber was nice, but I'm going to have to learn how to pickle - we didn't use the cucumber that we got this year. 6 or 7 cukes from just one plant!


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