Monday, April 07, 2008

Growing Challenge: Schrodinger's Cat Edition

One of the things I love best about gardening is the fact that there's always something new to learn. What is compost? What plant can go in that dry, yet shady spot? What's that bird at my feeder?

Often that learning takes the form of what not to do when gardening.

One of the inevitable questions related to gardening comes at the end of the season: do you take those plants in or leave them out? If they're perennials and you leave them out in their pots, will they survive the winter? Maybe. But if you take them inside and leave them in your garage, where chances are it is dead certain that you'll forget to water them for months at a time (Face it, you're so sleep deprived that even remembering you have plants in the garage is tough enough.). Will they survive?

Six trays on the floor, surely there aren't many more?

Looks bad, doesn't it?
Fifteen trays of plants on the rack. Maybe I should have left them out back?

Is it possible that those on the rack look worse?

These are all perennial flowers (~369) that I grew to sell last year, but got too pregnant to continue going to market, so they sat in my backyard until the first snowfall. At which time I made Eric bring them all in and then we stuck them in the garage where they've been lurking ever since. It is a testament to the toughness of xeric plants that any of them are alive.

Here are a few of the survivors:
Creeping Jenny

An anemic looking Heuchera 'Purple Palace' .

Sempervivums living up to their name: Always living.

Also known as Hens and Chicks for the reason shown above. I love how the one on the right has made a perfect ring of "chicks".

They are now all outside, sitting in my raised bed, still in their pots. They have been watered and picked over a bit, just to get rid of all of the autumn leaves and sticks. I've tossed a frost blanket over them and will give them a few weeks to see who survives my "test" of plant toughness and who doesn't. If I am left with a bunch of perennials again this year at the end of the season, I plan on leaving them all outside, in the raised bed and see how they fare.

Scientific? Not hardly. Interesting though!

Oh and all of these plants? I raised from seed organically.

- - - - -

We had a family meeting (Well, those of us that could talk had a meeting. The other two were just Yes Men, agreeing to whatever we thought up. Don't you just hate people like that at meetings? Clearly they're just in it for the doughnuts breastmilk.) and talked about just what plants we should grow in our garden this year as our personal part of the growing challenge and we came up with a list of 19 different plants. Some are automatic, since I'm already growing them to sell. The others will take a little more work, since I'll have to set aside time to get them started and space in my raised beds.

Caitlin enthusiastically entitled it: What we'd like to grow this year.
  1. Tomatoes: cherry (Snow White), beefsteak (Black Krim), paste (Black Plum)
  2. Pumpkin (Caitlin's choice)
  3. Bell peppers (Caitlin's choice)
  4. Watermelon (Caitlin's choice)
  5. Strawberries
  6. Raspberries
  7. Carrots
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Basil (Genovese, Globe, Fino Verde for certain. Possibly a purple one since they're so pretty.)
  11. Green onions
  12. Blueberries
  13. Peas: Snap, Snow and Shelling
  14. Green beans (Caitlin's choice)
  15. Cucumber
  16. Zucchini (Just one plant will do! Maybe two. I know all about how crazy zucchini plants get.)
  17. Parsley
  18. Cilantro
  19. Garlic
I am not so certain we'll be able to do it all this year, but we'll see how it goes.

Already growing in the yard are asparagus (ignored for years, looks like they might be sprouting edible sized spears this year), oregano, French thyme, Borg strawberry plants and the remains of a blueberry shrub. Its mate suffocated under the mess of tomato plants from last summer, poor thing.

Out of that list of plants, I've actually grown all but pumpkins. I haven't necessarily grown the rest of them successfully, but I've tried to grow them in the past. Maybe I'll have more luck this year. I've killed so many different plants in my time that it's humbling.

Then again, I've learned a lot.


jennifer h said...

I wish I could see your gardening beds! I'm envious (though I'd rather not do all that work myself, just a little bit of it).

The hens and chicks plant is very cool.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

You can sort of see them in the tomato link. The tomatoes took over the last 1/3 of the left hand bed. There are two of them, 5' W x 12' L x ~2' D.

I'll go take a picture.

We're planning on building two more beds of the same height and width, but 16' long instead. Over these we'll place a hoophouse to warm things up and protect the early season plants. Later I'll probably grow stuff in there that is either high value that needs to be protected from flea beetles or for my own use.

The early season stuff is hard to protect. It's before the last frost has occurred, but you have to get a move on so that you have plants for market. My house is currently over run with tomato plants!

Melinda said...

Bummer!!!!!! I've done that. Not with so many, but I've learned the hard way that the garage, no matter how tempting, is off-limits to seedlings and plants. (Ahem, so is the laundry room - oops.)

I love the results of the family meeting, though - that list looks scrumptious!

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