Jim's Garden for 2010

This year I won't try to overwork the Square-Foot Garden in the front yard, but will instead expand the concept around the property. The back yard has been divided with a cinderblock and plank fence that is easy to shift around until we decide exactly where it should be. Right now, it is behind Raspberry Row (which includes Blackberry plants as well). The idea is that the fence will keep backyard athletes from getting stuck on the thorns. Fred's big barbecue is ready to go (has already been used once this year) and there is plenty of wood for the pit fireplace from the scavanged fallen branches of the sycamore.

A new feature this year is Orchard Lane, set in front of the parking area. During the day, when the cars are out, that section gets plenty of sunlight.

The "orchard" is made up of a 5-Apple tree and a 2 Cherry Tree. The cats are encouraged to lounge in the backyard to keep the birds away while seeds are taking root. I think they are both too lazy and well-fed to actually catch a bird, but the birds don't know that. The 5 different apples on one tree trunk are: Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn and one label fell off, so we'll call it Apple Surprise for now. The 2 cherry varieties are Van, and Montmorency.

The cherry tree I planted two years ago is at the end of the "lane" nearest the house. It is already bursting with cherries and we hope to get a pie from it this year. It is just a "Red" cherry tree, but very sweet, which means everyone has to sample at least one from the tree. We had plenty of honey bees to pollinate this year and everyone was very respectful of them and left them alone to "do their thing."

The Square Foot Garden ( 4' by 4') is in the front of the house where it gets the most sunlight.I can reach all of the sections from one of the three sides. I left the poles up, but I won't put up netting until the beans are in. Right now there are radishes, baby carrots, celery, iceburg lettuce, brocoli, sugar snap peas, and some left over mint from last year. I also left the huge pink clover plants that migrated here from somewhere. They are good for attracting bees and add nitrates to the soil. My little pot barbecue is in a shady corner and is good for tiny barbecue lunches. It is also conveniently near Concord Way and I can reach out from my chair and pluck concord grapes for meals.

To climb the front steps, you have to step over a tiny garden of impatiens and marigolds. I sometimes sit on the bottom steps and play my guitar right in the middle of this step garden. I usually do this at twilight when the bees have all retired for the night. It's a great place to see fire-flies, however. I have a little compost bucket in the front where I can get my hands on a quick supply as needed. The lilies are starting to grow up behind the hostias and by early summer will cover up that background with color. I suppose I should call that front section "Lost Pot Row," but I may figure out what belongs in all those pots soon. Blueberry Lane has two big blueberry bushes from last year that have just begun to flower, and I am awaiting several more of those TV Miracle Blueberry plants. We'll see how miraculous they are, but in the meantime I have plenty of berries.

The other corner of the front yard is where we sit to eat under an umbrella table that right now is being used to give the seedlings plenty of light. Those are Moon Flowers and Sun Flowers beginning to sprout, along with some Johnny Jump Ups. I had to get the Johnny Jump Ups because that is the nickname of one of the cats. Behind the table, the strawberry patch is in blossom and we check it every day for the first berries. The Apple Bobber tree was put in three years ago. It produces lots of heavy Gala apples that bob up and down on the heads of those who dare to sit under them. It's just going through a phase.

I have several cherry tomato plants growing in the normal fashion in the square foot garden, but last year the race for tomatos was won by my milk jug upside down plant, so I'm trying it again. The race is on! I used different varieties of tomato last year, but everyone's favorite was the sweet little cherry tomatoes you could pluck from the vine and pop in your mouth, so this year the race is between three plants of the same variety. The milk jug method makes plucking and popping very easy, so we may lose count of the actual number.

I have another garden on the back steps of the house. The plants here are used to decorate the backyard at party time. I don't dare leave the plants in the backyard all the time because the squirrels pull up the plants and use the pots to store their winter food supply. By keeping them on the back porch, the cats keep away the squirrels and it is easy to set the plants out to decorate when it is time for a party.

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