Monday, May 7, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year.......

Gardening season!!!!  Truly, my favorite time of year.  All winter long I dream of the day when I can finally start working in my yard.  My love of gardening comes from my Dad.  My entire life the man has always been a gardener--both veggies and flowers.  I remember as a young girl taking trips to the nursery to pick out our season's plants.  I also remember the first year when he gave me my very own little spot in the yard for my own flower garden.  I was given free reign to plant whatever my heart desired.  To this day, I still remember what I chose----gladiolas (purple and white), bleeding heart, and dianthus.  Now, I'll admit, combining the shade loving bleeding heart with the sun adoring dianthus was not one of my finer gardening moments, but those early years of gardening will stay with me forever.

Fast forward to last week, where I took my annual journey to my gardening mecca-- Cox's Plant Farm.  It's the largest greenhouse/nursery in the State of Indiana, but it's also out in the boonies, so I try to only make a couple trips a summer.  I took a personal day off work last week, since the place is so packed on the weekends, and headed off with list in hand to put a dent in my gardening budget.   (I once told my younger sister how much money I spent on plants, mulch, compost, and dirt in one summer, and the only thing she could muster in response was "You spend that much money on dirt?!?")

When you arrive to Cox's, this is the sight that greets you.

For as far as the eye can see.  It's glorious.  I'll be honest, Cox's is slightly overwhelming, so I always go prepared with bullet point lists of things I need.  I spend a few days before the trip reviewing my gardening journal for plants I've come across that I've wanted to try and also for any notes from last gardening season.  Thomas Jefferson is said to have kept a gardening journal for over 30 years, detailing his Monticello gardens.  My addiction to Bravo's Real Housewives franchise has pretty much eliminated any and all hopes of me being considered an intellectual, but at least I can mimic Jefferson's gardening passion.  The journal may sound a little nerdy, but it's honestly pretty helpful for remembering little details like how many bags of mulch to buy or whether or not that new tomato plant that you tried did any good.

Anyhoo, back to gardening heaven.  This year's list was small since I planted mostly perennials last year.  I tell you what, the mere sight of a returning perennial   is all the proof I need that last summer's hard work and money paid off!  All I needed this summer were the following:  perilla, lamium, liriope, bee balm, pachysandra, lantana, sweet potato vine, coleus, and a couple of succulents.   I was also lucky enough, in early spring, to get a bunch of hostas from my Dad.  Those things are like $10 a piece at a gardening store, so I'm thankful to divide from my Dad's when I can.

The annual baskets are so tempting, but not garden-budget friendly, so I always pass.

I was also lucky this season to have a friend with a greenhouse, so I was able to start plenty of seeds this year, which was a goal of mine.  I started Alyssum, Ruby Moon Hyacinth Vine, Scarlett Runner Bean, and Black Eyed Susan Vine.

As far as veggies go, this year I'm doing tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, and basil.   Not much of my yard gets full sun, so I have to limit my veggies unfortunately due to space constraints.  I've never grown peppers or eggplant, so we'll see.  I also had horrific tomatoes last year, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they actually do well this year.  I've also made a deal that I'm only using "organic" methods on my veggies this summer--AKA no miracle-gro.  As I was dousing my plants with the pink miracle-gro concoction last summer, I really started to wonder what I was actually putting on my food.  So after some googling, I found a couple alternatives.  The first is bone meal, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like---crushed up bones.  It's high in phosphorus, which is essential to fruit production (so I hear).  The next one I'm trying is truly revolting, and I haven't even opened the bottle to smell it yet----fish emulsion.  Yup, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like----emulsified fish---yum-O.  There were actually two suggestions for using fish in your organic garden.  The first suggestion was to put fish heads (from your local butcher, naturally) in the bottom of your tomato hole prior to planting.  Um, that was never going to happen, even if I had a local butcher, so fish emulsion it is.

This blog has already gone on for far too long, so I'll wrap up.  I'm hoping to get everything in the ground this weekend, so I'll report back with pictures.  I'd also like to dig up some of my gardening before and afters for the good 'ol blog so I can remind myself of why it is I garden every weekend instead of lay by the pool.

"Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination."  Mrs. C.W. Eagle

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