Day 8

Yesterday brought a mighty rain in the early morning, which eventually gave way to sunshine in the afternoon. Good for the plants. Not so good for mucking about during football season (when the only time to garden on a Sunday is before the first game begins). But, we did take pictures to document this journey, and here they are today:

[caption id="attachment_73" align="alignnone" width="625"]Red swiss chard, bending and standing. A blurry bit of red swiss chard, bending and standing.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_71" align="alignnone" width="625"]The beginnings of carrots The beginnings of carrots, in the pose of tadaasanaa - mountain pose![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_70" align="alignnone" width="625"]Such a humble little dill Such a humble little dill, holding a drop of water.[/caption]

And no garden is quite complete without a feline, such as this fine little creature:

[caption id="attachment_72" align="alignnone" width="625"]Kiki, one of the felines we share our garden with. Kiki, one of the felines we share our garden with.[/caption]

There she sits, poised so gracefully, in front of the lantana. The other cats, I am very sorry to say, are like lettuces: they bolt. Oh, except this one, who is our proverbial "fence sitter," if I ever saw one. Ah, so much like her human.

[caption id="attachment_74" align="alignnone" width="625"]Do I go out? Do I stay in? How much can I lose? How much can I win? Do I go out? Do I stay in? How much can I lose? How much can I win?[/caption]

The only ones we haven't seen in this short week are: onions (or "funions," as my other half calls them), scallions, and coriander. I wonder what they're waiting for? Ah, well, it's certainly we who are waiting.



Day 6

There's such a heightened sense of expectation - and yet also a great need for patience - in gardening. Oh, hello again, Ancestor.

[caption id="attachment_54" align="alignnone" width="625"]Hello again, dear Ancestor. You're green today. Hello again, dear Ancestor. You're green today.[/caption]

Today s/he was hanging out by the neem tree, a tree given as a precious gift to us by a friend, whose Tamizh name, புஷ்ப மலர் (pushpa malar), is a combination of the Sanskrit word for flower and the Tamizh word for flower, or wildflower. Flower-flower. What a fantastic and appropriate name for one who loves gardens and plants and flowers so much. The neem deserves its own post. So do you, Ancestor. More on you both, later.

Today marks Day 6 of the winter garden. What's new? Let's see - magically, in a matter of hours, we are lucky today to see:

[caption id="attachment_57" align="alignnone" width="625"]The tops of beets! The tops of beets![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignnone" width="625"]Tri-colour cauliflower seedlings. Tri-colour cauliflower seedlings.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_55" align="alignnone" width="625"]Little lettuce seedlings Little lettuce seedlings[/caption]

Amazing! Beets, cauliflower, and lettuce. Also, though not pictured today, we see arugula making its appearance. What shall tomorrow bring? Work of a different nature - one gardening job for the weekend for both of us is to tackle our little front courtyard garden. We have all the tools, and most of the plants we need, to plant a tropical, shady paradise.

Sweet dreams!


Day One was Sunday. We spent the latter part of the weekend gathering all we would need for the raised winter garden beds. We predrilled and put in wood screws and applied linseed oil and worked together, and our finished boxes looked like this:

[caption id="attachment_17" align="alignnone" width="625"]4x4 Boxes, 8" deep, ready to be laid down in the garden. 4x4 Boxes, 8" deep, ready to be laid down in the garden.[/caption]

Outside, the components of the soil mixture awaited in the back garden.

[caption id="attachment_18" align="alignnone" width="625"]Two truckloads of compost, with a few cubic feet of peat moss. Two truckloads of compost, with a few cubic feet of peat moss.[/caption]

Thanks very much to our Pallie With Truck, we were able to secure two truckloads of compost, one from The Ground Up by Memorial & I-10, and another from Living Earth in Missouri City. Thanks also to a little hidden gem in Gulfton, Southwest Fertilizer, we found both enough of the coarse vermiculite and peat moss that we needed to make up the soil mixture for the beds.

Noticed that the vegan compost from The Ground Up was denser and warmer than the stuff from Living Earth, when the loads were initially placed here at home from the compost lot. However, the next day, both loads were still quite steamy, fragrant, and in essence, just the sort of stuff you might almost wish you could dive into.

[caption id="attachment_19" align="alignnone" width="625"]Rest assured, the bucket was not on fire! Rest assured, the bucket was not on fire! Just steam from the glorious pile o'compost.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_20" align="alignnone" width="625"]Just a bit of steamy goodness coming out from the compost. Just a bit of steamy goodness coming out from the compost. Thank you, bacteria and other microbes![/caption]

Then we set about mixing: a third each of peat, coarse vermiculite, and compost. We're taking inspiration here from Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening, though we settled for a 2-blend compost, not the 5-blend he recommends.

[caption id="attachment_21" align="alignnone" width="625"]Mixing it up: peat, coarse vermiculite, compost. Mixing it up: peat, coarse vermiculite, compost.[/caption]

We laid out weedcloth (unfortunately, I believe this stuff is not biodegradable - next go-around, it would be great to get the stuff that will decompose sooner rather than later) and set the boxes down, one by one.

[caption id="attachment_22" align="alignnone" width="625"]Ta-da! The first raised bed. Yes, you're gorgeous. And empty. Ta-da! The first raised bed. Yes, you're gorgeous. And empty.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_24" align="alignnone" width="625"]Fill 'er up! With the help of  a trusty wheelbarrow. Fill 'er up! With the help of a trusty wheelbarrow.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_25" align="alignnone" width="625"]Smoothening out the soil. Such fun work. So, not really work. Just fun fun. Smoothening out the soil. Such fun work. So, not really work. Just fun fun.[/caption]

And so on. In the end, we had four beds, skirting the back side of the house:

[caption id="attachment_26" align="alignnone" width="625"]Watering the beds just a little bit. Watering the beds just a little bit. For perspective, the fence faces East.[/caption]

And, to give perspective, here is where the beds lie in relation to the house, from different angles:

[caption id="attachment_27" align="alignnone" width="625"]Facing East, from the breezeway and driveway side of the land. Facing East, from the breezeway and driveway side of the land.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_28" align="alignnone" width="625"]From the South East corner of the land. From the South East corner of the land, right by the Bald Cypress tree (left) and the rather poor Lagerstroemia (right).[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_29" align="alignnone" width="625"]From the South West corner of the land, very well shaded in the autumn mornings. From the South West corner of the land, very well shaded in the autumn mornings.[/caption]

Though my better half thought that laying down the square foot lathe was silly, I rather liked the idea of straight lines in a garden bed. So, I pre-drilled and installed wood screws into bits of plywood, and the resulting beds looked like this:

[caption id="attachment_30" align="alignnone" width="625"]The four finished, gridded beds. The four finished, gridded beds.[/caption]

And this is what I planted on Sunday evening, as the sun was setting:

[caption id="attachment_40" align="alignnone" width="256"]Grid 1 Grid 1, Eastern-most[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_39" align="alignnone" width="256"]Grid 2 Grid 2, which gets more sun.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_38" align="alignnone" width="256"]Grid 3 Grid 3, with lots of interesting little bits.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_37" align="alignnone" width="256"]Grid 4 And Grid 4, the Western-most grid, with one square of parsley sown 2 years ago in New York City! [/caption]

All was planted en-masse, with nary a thought to how to stagger harvest times. We shall, more than likely, have a great abundance of parsley. Tabbouleh, anyone?

Happy Gardening!

Day 5

Our allergies are raging, but oh, is it a gorgeous October day in Houston. Today marks the 5th day of the winter garden's existence, and we have noticed both tiny bits of lettuce seedlings, as well as confident little broccoli rabe peeping out of the soil, like so:

[caption id="attachment_11" align="alignnone" width="625"]Seedlings which appeared on the 4th day after sowing. Broccoli rabe seedlings which appeared on the 4th day after sowing.[/caption]

We're ecstatic. The sky is blue, there's a cool breeze from the South East, and the garden grows. As we take more time to be outside, we have the opportunity to see lovely friends like this one:

[caption id="attachment_13" align="alignnone" width="625"]An Ancestor, hanging in the Rosemary An Ancestor, hanging in the Rosemary[/caption]

Between being a shy model for photographs and turning away, s/he closes the eyes and opens them, and looks right into mine. In this, we see a dinosaur, an ancestor, a family member. You have two eyes, and so do I.