Garden Diary 2012
This page was last updated on 5-20-2012.
Year’s Goals: 1) Spend 15 minutes to 1 hour a day in the garden, usually first thing in the morning. Set weekly goals to accomplish in that time. 2) Keep the garden looking good all the time: weeded, pruned, fed, and flowering. 3) Grow some food all year, using succession planting and perennials where possible. Expand the edibles grown and work toward being as self-sufficient in food production as possible. 4) Rejuvenate the soil in containers instead of buying all new. 5) Fill empty spots throughout garden with edibles and colorful plants, including flowers and foliage.
Goals are again the same as last year, except the garden has matured even more, there are many more edibles, the utility area is finished, and the patio has been cleared. Yay!
January 1-4: M came and put the rocks and stepping stones down. After that, I took everything off the Patio and organized it in the new Utility Area and separated the pots I want to give away and put them in the holding area on the south side of the house. A was so pleased, he immediately cleaned the Patio, even bleaching the edge to get rid of the mold. Now all that remains is the blue bench and the Ponytail Palm in its little pot. Everything looks so good!
January 16-20: Went to friend M’s to meet FJ there to help her decide what to do with her back garden. He will be enriching it, caring for the fruit trees, and building her two large raised beds so she can work on them at hip height. Began picking Tomatoes and Tomatillos in my garden.
February 17-19: Met
friend A at her plot at the community garden on
break of three weeks in CA, we came home to a garden that just gets better as
it matures. We have very few annuals,
and most of the perennials are long-lived types that spread moderately and
are easily kept in control. In the
TVA, the Jackfruit is now producing again – loads of fruits! They just keep coming now, and they are up
in some of the higher branches, too, not just off the trunk. The Everbearing
Mulberries are fruiting a lot – I get a handful every morning.
Definitely want more of these! After
they finish fruiting this time, I will prune/take cuttings with the goal of
establishing a row of them along the back fence – at least five plants. The Giant Mulberry has lots of unripe fruits
on it as well. B gave me some cuttings
of a good one and I will plant whatever survives. What a great fruit! The self-sown Papayas are beginning to set
fruit at last. The north end of the
TVA is filled with small trees! The Atemoya looks a little bare, but there are lots of shoots
beginning to come along the skinny, dead-looking branches. The Loquat is setting a small cluster of
fruit already! It’s one of my very
favorite fruits. The Peach is looking
awful, but still alive, and M’s looked awful too but got better, so I
have hope. The White Sapote has triumphed and popped up strong after the Loofa vine finally died down. We have seven loofa
sponges bleaching in the sun on the Patio – three over 1’ long,
and another four around 9”. The Grumichama is covered in fruit – once all my goal
plants are in, I may get a few more of these to keep lower (in reach). It is a great producer and the flavor is
really good, but you have to catch it right away because the whole plant has
about a week-long window in fruit.
Also want more
14-19: After my knowing P for more than 24 years,
she is moving away! Sad, but at least
I will have some great old
Future plans: I am slowly making my way to all my favorite public gardens and taking pictures for ideas to dress up the rest of the garden. I don’t want it to look like every other landscaped garden – there should be plants you don’t see anywhere else. We will have to visit independent nurseries for these. The Mound has a couple of large empty spots on it, one of which would be perfect for one of those large, almost fluorescent orange Bromeliads we keep seeing everywhere now. The other is for a Wax Jambu, which we would need to keep small, since they can get very big, but I like the fruit.
Other edibles we plan to add are: Abiu (my Holy Grail – will go wherever there is room whenever we can get it), Black Pepper vines and Vanilla Orchids for the TVA understory, Nutmeg and Clove if they will produce here, more Figs (especially ‘Red Conandria’ if we can find it), Grape (apart from the fruit, the leaves are a vegetable in their own right), Gumi (which will replace the diseased hedge of Hibiscus in front of the front wall), a Kumquat (either ‘Nagami’ or ‘Meiwa’, wherever it will fit in the TVA), Passionfruit vines (at least two types are needed), more Pineapples for the south Berry Bed, a Prickly Pear Cactus for the southern corner of the south Berry Bed (preferably a spineless one) a Ross Sapote (again, if we can find one), Star Anise and Tea (both shrubs, probably on the south side east of the gate), three more Everbearing Mulberry (south of the one we already have), some more Canna indica (with colorful foliage, such as: ‘Intrigue’, ‘Durban’, striata ‘Stuttgart’, ‘Bengal Tiger’, or ‘Wyoming’), and a few each of Barbados Cherry, Cherry of the Rio Grande, and Grumichama (kept picking height) for sunnier spots wherever they will fit once we have most of the others above. Also for the TVA, from ECHO and Top Tropicals: Arrowroot, Basket Vine, Chinese Spinach (green version of Okinawa Spinach - several), Galangal, Samba Lettuce, and Vetiver grass.
The area behind the front wall need some re-vamping again. The Lea there is nice, but planted a little too forward of the back wall. It is probably better to leave it alone and plant more behind it. Some plants behind it, like the single magenta Ti plant, can be moved, so I may take it and put it somewhere else, like the TVA. An Anthurium hookeri would be cool in front of the Leas. There is a Pothos ‘Marble’ (lots of white) back there that could be left alone, but cuttings could be taken for another spot. There are a couple of ZZ Plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), but they are too short to be seen, so they can come forward also. Some Eucharist Lily plants come up now and again, and one is doing so now – it is also too short and needs to come forward. The Oyster Plants (Rhoeo discolor) need to be thinned. The Philodendron Congo Rex is hiding behind the Lea, so also needs to come forward – there is a definite pattern here, yes? Maybe I can move the Lea after all and plant another one or two with it right at the back, then stairstep down from there, with possibly something else tall to one side, such as a Climbing Begonia, Philodendron gloriosum, or an Angelwing Begonia (preferably the black type with orange flowers). Flamingo Road and Living Color nurseries would have lots of interesting possibilities.
There are some special plants I would like as well, such as Bat Flowers (both Tacca chantrieri ‘Black’ and the black and white T. integrifolia), Jewel Orchid (Haemaria discolor), Peacock Gingers (Kaempferia), Dancing Ladies (Globba winitii), Curcuma aromatica, Hedychium coronarium (just one, for the TVA understory), Wrightia religiosa, Rex Begonias.
In the Utility Area, the clumps of Spiral Ginger could be underplanted with Red Flame Ivy (Hemigraphis alternata), other small shade-lovers like Peacock Gingers, and maybe even a Stromanthe tricolor.
April 20-30: I have been
watching some YouTube videos on Forest Gardening, and realized I have missed
a very important step when setting up and maintaining mine: There
aren’t nearly enough nitrogen fixers!
There should have been tons of them put in right at the start, and now
parts of the garden are too shady to really grow them. How can this be solved? First off, we now have loads of Bean and
Pigeon Pea seeds that we will be planting throughout the garden. We will limb up some things that would
shade them out so they can get a good start.
I planted several pots of Pigeon Peas and will plant lots more that
will get well started before they go in the shadier spots – that way
they can compete for the sun that’s there. In addition, Velvet Beans will be planted
straight in the ground. These are not
edible, but are strong summer growers that will help enrich the soil. In the sunnier areas, we will direct-seed
Yard-Long Beans and Cowpeas, supporting them where possible, and letting them
run along the ground otherwise. We
hope to raise lots of leguminous biomass that we can throw into the beds as
mulch to increase nitrogen. Also
planted this week were Okra ‘Philippine Lady Finger’ and Yard
Long Beans (on the teepee) in the west Potager bed,
and Okra ‘Harlow’s
May 1-10: Beans and Okra are coming up in the Potager, Beans in the Tropical Vegetable Area, and Pigeon Peas and Amaranths in the pots. Also started fresh seeds of Malabar Chestnuts in two pots for my friend P, who is moving away, and they are coming up, too. No Clitoria or fruit tree seeds have germinated yet. Have ordered more Clitoria seeds, since maybe my saved seed was too old or got moist and ruined at some point. No Tamarind yet, either, but I have faith. Some of these things just take time. Meanwhile, I have been reading Global Gardening by Hank Bruce, which is very exciting, as most of the plants I had never heard of before, and many are for tropical and subtropical areas. It took a while, but I have located most of those suitable for our climate at various seed companies and created detailed wishlists, from which I will be ordering over the next year. This week, we received a six-pack of plugs of Vetiver Grass, and a package of several pads (cuttings) of Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus, as well as lots of seeds from ECHO, Solana Seeds, and Tradewinds Fruit. Again, most of these seeds are for unusual tropical varieties, many for the warm season, and lots are Solanums, which will be started in early Fall. The Vetiver Grass was planted in six 1-gallon pots, one plug per pot, as we will be giving some of them away, and I want them better established before doing that or planting them in our garden. Also, three pads of the Spineless Prickly Pear were planted at the south end of the south Berry Bed, and three more in one-gallon pots to be given away.
May 11-20: Pigeon Peas all had roots beginning to peek out of the bottoms of their pots, so they got planted, two in the north Berry Bed, two in each Potager Bed, and two under the Jackfruit tree. One double-flowered Butterfly Pea (Clitorea terneata) was up, so it went in the east Potager Bed. Received and planted rhizomes of Shampoo Ginger (Zingiber zerumbet – in a self-watering container on the back north side, among Malabar Spinach) and Butterfly Ginger (Hedychium coronarium – near the fence between the northernmost Chaya and the Atemoya) from Banana Tree. Also got some seeds from them – the packets are seriously small, often 7-10 seeds only, but they have things hard to find anywhere else. Planted the ten Pigeon Pea (Cajanus cajan) seeds in the same 4” pots with the tiny Amaranth ‘Vietnamese Red’ seedlings, one to a pot. Direct-seeded the seven purple-flowered Hyacinth or Lablab Beans (Dolichos lablab) in the south Berry Bed, and the seven Jackbeans (Canavalia ensiformus) in the Tropical Vegetable Area at the south end, near the Jujube and Moringa trees. Also, two Tamarind sprouts have finally popped up! Tamarind seeds have a low germination rate, around 50%, and take about three weeks to sprout, so these are actually a little early, but I won’t give up yet on getting at least one more out of the four seeds planted. We also have more seeds, which I will plant in pots to give away, now that I know there should be a good result. The Vetiver grass plugs are all getting new growth and one of the Mulberry cuttings from B is leafing out – not giving up on the others of those either. He gave me five. With that success, I have decided to root my own Everbearing Mulberry cuttings to plant (need 3 or 4) next to the one that is fruiting now. Will wait until the fruiting cycle is over, though.
Planted two flats of
bedding Begonias (12 per flat) in the shadier north half of the Tropical
Vegetable Area, one all red with deep burgundy leaves, and the other a
mixture of white with burgundy leaves, pink with burgundy leaves, and deep
pink with fresh green leaves. Now the
ground is colorful under the fruit trees, and the beans are getting a little
larger there, slowly. I need to feed
the garden something, and a big bag of organic fertilizer with mycorrhizae in the garage is probably the best bet at the
moment, so that should happen in the next week or so. Planted nine tubers of three kinds of Malanga in the south Berry Bed, along with two Pineapple
tops. Something uprooted two of them
that night and left them exposed, so I replanted them next morning and so far
it hasn’t happened again. I think the raccoons check out any disturbed
ground looking for worms. The roots
were not of interest or they would have been gone. Planted one Yam (Dioscorea alata) and two sprouting Chayotes by the back fence between the Jujube and the
Coconut tree. The Yams in
self-watering containers in the
A wild Yam has sprung up by the Jujube, as has another in the Banana patch. This is thrilling, as they both have winged vines and are therefore the good kind, Dioscorea alata. I was also excited a few weeks ago to find another one near the Mulberry tree, which I thought had spread from the others I had planted south of it (stock from a grocery store). As it turns out, this one has round vines, but the leaves are in pairs and the vine is wiry and climbs in a “Z” at eye level, making it most likely a Cinnamon or Chinese Yam (D. polystachya). Maybe I even planted it myself and forgot about it. Either way, it’s a good find. On the subject of Yams, Green Deane has profiles on these and at least one more type on his website, Eat the Weeds.
And speaking of Green
Deane, B. and I recently went to
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