Friday, April 19, 2013

Planting Day!

I wait impatiently for weeks, carefully monitoring the 10 day forecast until there is no chance of consistently cold nighttime temperatures, until the Saturday morning I’ve been waiting for since October.  Planting Day.  My Christmas.  It’s my favorite day of the year.  It’s the day I know that spring has finally sprung and I can almost taste the incomparable deliciousness of a sun-warm tomato.

I never buy my plants from large chain home improvement or big box stores.  I have consistently purchased my seedlings from the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh for the past few years and have supported local farms while ensuring I knew my plants weren’t being flown from a greenhouse across the country.  This year, I also purchased seedlings from Gunter’s Greenhouse, an adorable greenhouse just a few miles up the road.

The first garden at my new home has been planted and I must say I find it rather impressive.  Both raised beds are filled with vegetables, and of course I couldn't abandon the perfectly good containers that have supported the growth of nine feet tall tomato plants.  What’s growing this year?

Tomatoes – 15
Sunsugar cherry (3), Sweety grape (3), Yellow boy (3), Summer sweet (4), Early girl (2)

Peppers – 10
Jalapeno (2), Big bertha (4), California (4)

Cucumbers – 4

Zucchini – 4

Blueberry bushes – 2

Fig tree

Planting day.  My favorite day.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Play in the dirt!

Hello, my name is Nicole, and I live in a perpetual state of dirty fingernails.  There is nothing I love more than the smell of dirt, the feel of grass between my toes, and the taste of a homegrown tomato.

I grew up helping my dad plant geraniums and marigolds along the front walkway and tomato plants along the back fence.  Some of my earliest memories involve the earthy, grassy smell of a young tomato plant being gently placed into a freshly dug hole in the ground and dead heading marigolds for hours with my little brother just to see whose flowers had the most seeds to bear.

Four years ago I began my own garden with just a few tomato and pepper plants in three small wash tubs on the back patio of my townhouse.  Each spring the garden grew and grew until I was left with just enough space among the containers and plants to put a patio chair and a grill.  This year it’s a whole new ball game – I bought a house and I now have a yard!

When I plotted out my garden beds in January, I made an unfortunate, although somewhat expected, discovery.  As is typical in North Carolina, my entire yard is clay.  Knowing there was no way I was going to be able to just work the clay and plant anyway, I decided the best option would be raised beds.  Since this is my first summer in the house and I have a million things to do, I decided that this year I would just build two beds to start.  I ended up building one 8’ by 8’ bed tucked neatly into the corner of the yard and one 5’ x 3’ bed along the fence.

Earlier this week, I had five cubic yards of 50/50 screened topsoil and compost delivered and dumped in my driveway.  I had no idea how much dirt five cubic yards was until the doors of the dump truck swung open.  I managed to move nearly three cubic yards from the driveway to the backyard in about four hours.  The beds hold about three cubic yards, although the rain over the past two days has caused the dirt/compost to settle, so I need to fill them back up.  The remaining dirt will be used to fill up my containers (from aforementioned container gardening) so I can continue container gardening as well.  I’m pretty sure there will still be dirt/compost left over, even after filling two beds and six-eight containers.

My neighbors looked at me like I was somewhat insane.  “The new kid expects to move all that dirt?! But she’s a GIRL!”  Ha…I get that a lot.  But I like dirt.  I like playing in dirt.  It’s through the therapeutic act of turning dirt and tending a garden that I have learned the most about life and about myself.