The gardening groove is back!

vintage seed catalogWhen the seed catalogs start arriving in December, I start dreaming of my garden. I pore over the new offerings again & again – all those gorgeous photos! – and think back to what went well the previous year and begin my scheming. At least, that’s how it has been for the last 20 years or so…….until this winter.  The seed catalogs came in as usual with all their promises and blandishments, and I remained unmoved.  By the time March rolled around, I was seriously beginning to wonder at myself – what was WRONG with me?  I’d not spent any time at all planning the garden and coming up with a budget, much less actually setting foot inside the space, except to deliver kitchen scraps to the compost. It had been on my “To Do’ list for 4 months. This is so unlike me….

Friends and neighbors, I had lost my gardening groove. My well had gone dry. Heck, I didn’t even get excited when the crimson clover we planted as green manure bloomed.

This is not my photo or my crimson clover, but it does look just like this. So pretty!

This is not my photo or my crimson clover, but it does look just like this when in bloom. So pretty!

Still I knew without a doubt that come July, I was absolutely gonna want to eat homegrown tomatoes and a whole lot of them, so gardening had to take place. In a weird way, Facebook came to the rescue.

For those few who don’t know, Facebook will often remind you of something you posted in years past; they’re called Facebook memories.  I kind of like them as they remind me of how quickly time is passing, and not to waste it…. spending loads of time on Facebook in particular! Just before Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, Facebook reminded me of a post I had written about how I’d gotten all my tomatoes in the ground on that day in 2015. UH-oh!  I needed to get it in gear.

On Mother’s Day, I went to my favorite plant nursery (as did dozens of other folks). Such a lovely sunshiny day – really very cool temperature wise for Alabama in May (which truly freaks me out, but I’ll save that rant for later). I wandered on over to where the veggie plants were and BAM!  The switch was flipped – do plants give off fumes along with fragrance? – and Garden 2016 was ON!

I only bought 10 plants that day, but I knew that I had come back to my senses.

I’m doing things a bit differently.  Last year, I had 2 keyhole gardens, and that was a lot. I decided this year that I’d do just a few plants in the front of the house and 1 keyhole garden in the back since I still have mobility issues. For the unplanted keyhole I will continue to collect more “browns and greens” for it and maybe plant cool weather stuff there. I know, I know, I *say* I’m gonna do that every year but by the time I get to the end of August, I am tired of gardening!  But my dear friend Ellen had me chock full of garden envy last fall when she showed photo after photo of fall gardening success – I’m truly inspired. I’m dreaming of heads of lettuce and cabbage, and onions and peas and carrots….

As if to egg me on, the Nigella out front bloomed right after and was its usual spectacular & freaky self.

Nigella alba, aka "love-in-a-Mist"

Nigella alba, aka “love-in-a-Mist”

These are volunteers from when I first got some to grow out front 4 or 5 years ago.  The cell phone photo doesn’t show enough detail unfortunately, but they kind of look like really weird, alien spark plugs or something. I adore them. The seed pods swell into these striped ovoid balloon things.  I’ll try to remember to share a picture of them….. Here’s another crappy cell phone photo-

2016NigellaMay13 (4)

I tried for years to get these suckers to grow; what worked best was when I just scattered two packets of “old seeds” and assumed they wouldn’t grow, just like all the other years. Now, they reseed themselves and are a regular citizen here; they’ve even shown up in the herb garden in back thanks to the birds I think. If I can keep Studmuffin from ripping them all out when they turn brown, I will collect the seed pods. Some will go to Mom – she really loves these, and the rest I’m gonna scatter a few other places around here. FYI – they do come in other colors.

So Boris the dog (self-appointed gardening supervisor), Studmuffin & I got the rest of the “browns & greens” into keyhole 1, mixed the worm castings, compost, coconut coir, potting soil and 2 or three other growing medium things and put it in place.

Boris the gardening dog

Inspecting the tomato plants.


Working on the slope

Working on the slope down from the basket. I didn’t do that last year and it’s quite important.

I bought “Soiled Rotten” by Dr. Deb Tolman and, if you are interested in using less water for your gardening, I highly recommend it. This is a link to a recent video which gives a lot of good information too.  Here’s another picture of my keyhole #1-

Before planting

Before planting

I don’t have a picture as “proof” but I have gained another garden helper along with Boris – Emmy the cat.  She’s been enjoying taking dust baths in the walkways and is seemingly quite interested in everything we do here. I have seen zero evidence of her using my garden as a catbox and I am happy for that- I’m not certain I could find a way to exclude her as she comes in right through the fence.  One more picture of Boris, smiling even-

Boris approves of our botanical efforts.

Boris approves of our botanical efforts.

Keyhole #1 is almost completely planted –  in between the plants, I have planted seeds for : mini-pumpkins, zucchini, sunflowers, Malabar spinach, watermelon & nasturtiums, almost all of which have sprouted in record time!  I have several more plants to tuck in here and there, mostly Japanese cucumbers and yellow squash.  In an elderly hanging basket on the patio, I planted a handful of ‘old’ nasturtium seeds, hoping to get a few seedlings – I got 14 or 15! So early this morning I potted up most of those temporarily. I’m back to working early in the morning and at near-dusk in the afternoon as the much more usual temperatures have reasserted themselves – 95 degrees F (35 deg. C) which is hard on me and on the plants.

I will be planting beans (bush beans for the first time in AL), russet potatoes (we have a couple from the kitchen that have sprouted), and sweet potatoes, along with super hot peppers (Gong Bai & Trinidad Scorpion), coleus, flowers, basil and my other grafted tomato plant in the front.

So….how’s yer garden?