Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Garden Shakedown

In February, one of my client's landscaping was overhauled with drought-friendly plants. Mostly succulents and grasses. The colors of the succulents, purple and dusty blue, made me pause every time I passed it. I started reading up on succulents, and discovered that they are low maintenance, have very little water needs once established, are relatively cheap, and are easy to propagate. Succulent obsession in 3, 2, 1...

Ground zero of succulent obsession
Now, a couple months later, I overhauled our front yard to include a ribbon of succulents along a previously boring stretch of soil. I decided that plants in the front yard garden had to either have low water requirements, or they had to feed me. Anything that got in the way of those two goals had to go. The only exception to this rule was the grass, shown below. Although it barely needed water, it was blocking sunlight to my food garden, so I spent a month chopping away at it and filling all our green waste bins to capacity. Now it's gone and a lovely Meyer lemon tree (aka my cocktail ingredient tree) is in its place.

Once I start getting into something, I start seeing it everywhere and I can't stop talking about it. Sempervivums, echeverias, crassulas, and aeoniums fill my dreams, along with kale and citrus plants.  I subscribed to Design for Serenity's Facebook page because there is a daily "Succulent Tip of the Day." 

My succulent garden is itty bitty because I'm cheap and because I have a number of propagation experiments going on, the most exciting being a tray of leaves I am misting once a week.

I repurposed several rocks I found in our front and back yards, and I made one terrifying trip to American Soil for rocks and clay soil amendment.  The trip was terrifying because I had a hatchback full of rocks and at one point I made a sharp turn and thought I heard my car window break (nothing was broken, but I can't figure out where that sound came from). I also had to drive my car into tight spaces and drive backwards while avoiding forklifts and an audience of (probably indifferent) people milling around. Oh well, part of learning new things is feeling like an idiot, so I should be used to that by now.

Sesame has been very patient with my new hobby, and I even try to incorporate training drills ("STAY!") while I play in the dirt.

This installation looks like a tombstone. What it needs is a big spiral aloe in the front of it, but see the part above where I state that I'm cheap. Those dark aeoniums were from the backyard and part of Mingus's pee garden. I really miss that dog.

I was constantly slipping on this sloped area to the food garden, so the boy and I created some traction by putting ledge stones leftover from our fireplace remodel. I interspersed elfin thyme (cutest name ever!) between the stones. Hopefully, the thyme will spread so it will look less like the steps have a disease. Landscape architect, I am not.

I've been told that this gardening period of mine is more pleasant, aesthetically speaking, than my tempeh period. I freaked a lot of people out with pictures of moldy beans, but hey! It's food! It's good food, but not pretty food.

My patch of Chinese garlic chives is back, as and my Richmond Pride collard tree is thriving.

Some yellow snow peas, squash, and snap peas are starting to gather steam.

Since my collard tree is doing so well, I'm propagating cuttings for it. These collards were so, so sweet during the winter, and they were great to have when nothing else in the garden was ready to eat. Therefore, I must have more! 

If I can grow 90% of my vegetables, I'd be so happy. This year, I'll settle for 50%. The boy and I made two new gardening areas in the front yard, and I'm currently green mulching them (refer to the part where I am cheap) instead of bringing in bags of good soil. I am determined to make this clay soil usable! 

Gardening is not for the faint-hearted, though. I think I've freaked myself out a few times by lifting rocks and finding disgusting things. Like this, for example. What is it? Eggs? If you know what they are, can you please leave a comment and assure me that they won't kill me? I started a few internet searches trying to ID these, but got grossed out by images and had to stop. 

When I discovered these disgusting white round things, I put the rock back down and went back in the house. It didn't help that I also unearthed slugs and some salamanders along with these weird globs. It took me about 15 minutes to venture out again to take a better look at them. They're not giant egg sacks, but tumors or something else gross on roots.  Maybe they're anemic radishes. If I can eat them, I don't think I will. Oh, man. I have to stop writing about this because I have goosebumps.


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