Thursday, October 18, 2012

Other Projects: Veggie/Herb Garden

At first glance, one might think this looks nothing more than a pile of rubble, a cement slab, and a patch of black dirt.

But, if you squint your eyes a tiny bit and use a bit of imagination, you can almost see its potential as a veggie and herb garden. 

Under that pile of rubble to the right is some more black dirt, highly prized in these parts, which was spread on top of the dirt that’s already there in the foreground. The remaining limestone will probably be spread in our lane and used in other spots to fill in ruts and holes, of which there are plenty.That cement slab is the top of our septic tank. 

Let me pause for a bit to talk about the black dirt we have here. As I mentioned, it's coveted by those folks who have predominately limestone, which is clearly not conducive to growing much of anything. But this dirt is unlike anything we've ever encountered. Imagine tar that got mixed with glue and you have some idea of what we're dealing with. This stuff sticks to everything, including shovels, shoes, pickaxes, and whatever else it comes in contact with. It packs down so much that it almost has a consistency of concrete when it's dry. You really need to find something to help fluff it up a bit, especially if you're trying to grow plants from seeds, which is about the only way you can grow things here.

Normally, we would buy something like peat moss or vermiculite to mix in with the dirt. But good luck finding anything like that down here. What we used instead were the wood shavings we had delivered just last week, along with some sand we had left over from the installation of the new septic tank.


Once that was all mixed in, it was time for planting.
One of the things I really, really want to grow is tomatoes. We love them and use them on a daily basis. With enough of a crop, I can make roasted tomato sauce, tons of salsa, and who knows what else. But try as I might to try growing tomatoes from seed, I couldn't get them to take. So I went to our gardening guru, Fernando, to see what solutions he might have.

Turns out that his brother, Raphino, grows tomatoes from seeds all the time. And he had a bunch of seedlings he was happy to give to us. Next thing I know, Fernando brought over six plants and put them in the ground.

As you can imagine, I was a very happy camper. Six plants! This should produce quite the bounty when they mature. But then it got even better when Fernando appeared again with EIGHT more plants! Holy cow! We'll be in tomato heaven!

Quite frankly, I'm not sure who is more jazzed about this whole garden plot, me or Fernando. He has designs on planting peppers and has been hinting at maybe some black beans or corn. Plus he wants to build a structure with sticks and palm leaves to provide some shade. While there's still room, I've gone ahead and planted some cilantro and seeds for romaine lettuce. We have two small basil plants coming up in our raised garden bed, which may end up moving back to this plot, unless we run out of room.

While all that's going on, we also want to build a composting area on top of the cement slab. Fernando wasn't familiar with the whole composting concept, but once we explained it he got on board that train really fast. For one thing, all those grass clippings that he has had to cart outside the fence could be put in the compost pile. Saves him a bunch of trips going in and out of the gate. Add all our vegetable parings, eggshells, and what have you and we could produce some very nice fertilizer down the road.

But for now, I'm out there most mornings giving all the plants and seeds a healthy drink, watching their progress, and looking for the first flowers on the tomato plants to make their debut.

Next up: Pool possibilities

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