How Green is my Garden – – –

Jack feels doubly competent today – the blog post on time and – – –

One of the things I really like about living in this part of the USA is the weather. The winters are similar to Scotland, but a good bit shorter, and the summer is much sunnier and warmer. Combine that with lots of short sharp rain showers and you have perfect conditions for growing things.

So Wendy and I have been learning how to (or not to) grow vegetables and herbs. It’s been a steep learning curve but we’re getting there. We inherited a large back yard that already had a veggie plot laid out so, nothing daunted, we set to. The first problem was that the yard had six mature walnut trees on two sides and we learned from Wendy’s former student Erin Dotson, a genius in gardening (yes you can hire her) that these are death to many plants in the nightshade family. They send out a maze of tendrils from their roots that exude something called juglone that is poisonous to many vegetables.

But we didn’t know that when we started preparing the long neglected plot and found a layer of garden cloth below the soil, so we pulled it all and threw it in parts of the yard where we wanted to kill things. Big mistake! It was there because of the juglone – – –

Luckily there were some raised beds that still had the barrier in place. So we were able to grow peas and asparagus in them and choose other stuff for the areas we had denuded of cloth. We also planted tomatoes as far away from the walnuts as we could or in plastic bags with earth from elsewhere, and these did well.

I’m happy to report that we were successful with peas, tomatoes, kale, onions, and lots of herbs. Much less with potatoes, peppers, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. We also inherited raspberry canes which also have done well (too well in places) and volunteer cucumbers appeared without warning in our wooded areas.

We’re watching our second crop of peas developing right now and have high hopes for them before the frosts arrive, and we’re experimenting with planting seeds and seedlings in pots inside the house to have them ready for either an early start next year or even some winter produce. These include cumin, coriander, red current and marigold cherry tomatoes, basil, thyme, and blue potatoes. All are thriving. We even have a winter squash wending its way from the back garden toward the house, developing fruit along the way. We’re feeling almost competent!

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