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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ummm ...

[replied by risa, see previous post by daughter]

In such a tight space, with Mojo roaming about, ummm, that's a poser. I think I see some pavement in the photo, too?

And with your schedule ...

Porch potatoesBlackberries can be nice to coexist with for the berries, but you may want to inspect underneath them. If the ground there is full of, say, old car batteries, I'd advise agin' 'em.

Some plants respond to shock by blooming, so I'd still keep an eye on that cactus. -- uhh, do not overwater, I think. Google best care.

Like the song -- parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are all good and relatively hard to kill. More fragile, but worth the effort in full summer sun, is basil. I also like lavendar, which was a hit as a condiment back in the day, though almost no one remembers that.

Easy hardy spring stuff would include green kale, red kale, red lettuce, red cabbage, red chard, nurnyuns, bok choi less so but sooooo tasty, consider also cauliflower, and peas, peas, peas, EDIBLE pod (Sugar snap). Stuff that can also go in early and come out late: potatoes of various kinds. These sprout when they darn well feel like it, so it's good to try for a long season.

Hot weather stuff is some work around here, because we don't have hot weather: tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, cukes, eggplant, pepper, beans.

And then there are things that really DON'T do so well here: peanuts, sweet potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe. But people keep trying. Success with these takes care and attention, maybe stuff like plastic tents and gallon jugs, painted black, to hold sunlight and release it at night.

Things I think are way too much effort for the return unless you are financially independent: raspberries, strawberries.

Things I think everyone should have if they own and are staying put: Cherries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, Italian plums, Damson plums, pecans, kiwis, grapes, figs, quince, blueberries, wolf berries, walnuts. I'd add filberts but they are goshawfully disease prone just now. But where you are, naaaah, just pick the blackberries.

Believe it or not, most of these things will thrive in containers. Consider starting out in 'em. On the paved area. Then, if you want you can move into the grassy part, building beds as you find enough mulching materials to do so.

You know those big round ones we have? Potatoes did fine in them. Take some of ours home with you.

Five-gallon buckets work, too, though you may want to put a hole in the bottom for drainage; or even a kitchen garbage sack will work as a container. You can put about fifteen pounds of large gravel or small riprap in the bottom of a large container, then compost and topsoil mixed, and potting soil in the top couple of inches for seed bed.

If you get potted plants, like tomatoes in starter pots (these are big when they grow up, so one per container), pull open a hole in this prepared medium that is slightly larger than the pot, turn the pot upside down, gently shake out the plant with its soil intact, and turn it right side up into the hole. tamp the container soil up to and over the pot soil so the plant is a little deeper than it was in the pot, and "water it in" which means provide moisture to the plant but also eliminate air pockets which dry out and kill the all-important hair roots.

Every root you can see is covered with roots you basically can't see. These hate sunshine, wind and air and being upside down, and they love darkness, water, soil, mycorrhizae and being right-side up (water and nutrients reference gravity in their movements in roots). So make your hole, plant your plant, bring up your soil, and water in, in as smooth an operation as you can manage, preferably in your own shade. Do this early or late, not in the middle of a hot day, and cloudy or even raining will help. more here, written long ago (in Daughter years...)

When it's miserable out, and you're not doing homework or socializing, reading about this stuff will help.

See: Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening by Steve Solomon

And: Gardening for All Seasons: The Complete Guide to Producing Food at Home Twelve Months a Year by Gary Hirshberg. The edition at Amazon is all from 1983, I think theres a new version but they don't seem to have it?? Oh, well. For five bucks the old one's a keeper. Try Powells, have you been there yet?

What I read over and over, more for its attitude than its actual instructions, though, is Farming for Self Sufficiency by John Seymour. It's a collector's item these days, but you can find it newer as Concise Guide to Self Sufficiency. He shoveled around his dirt too much, but he was fabulous on rotation, observing what nature wants, making things do, and brewing. Very kind to horses.

And, as always, Carla.

love, mamacita

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