Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Is It Becoming an Obsession?
"Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems." -- Rainer Maria Rilke
In my last post I wrote about the work that was done on the chicken coop, shed, and mini-woodland landscape. But the other thing I did over Memorial weekend was to buy plants and seeds for my raised beds at Nelson Nursery in Zimmerman.
I like Nelson's selection and they aren't as expensive as some of the other local nurseries. You can pay less at stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and the like, but their selection is limited and the plants are often root bound and half-dead.
So my once empty beds now look like this, with seeds and seedlings in place. Gotta love the red tomato plant supports... Latte has already jumped the quickly-thrown-together fence, but after I chased her out of there, she hasn't jumped it again. I must have looked pretty menacing.
I have two more additional raised beds that you can see in the background. They were the only beds I had last year. The new beds are deeper and get more sun, which I hope means a bigger, better crop.
One of the old beds will be used to plant herbs. I bought the herbs Tuesday at the 101 Market in Otsego. I like the 101 Market also as it is jam packed with gardener eye candy and has the largest variety of healthy looking herbs I've run into, but it seems a bit pricey.
I would have liked to have shopped at the Minneapolis Farmers Market or at Shady Acres Herb Farm, but knew I wouldn't have time to get to either place in June as my weekends are pretty booked up. I still plan to take a field trip to Shady Acres sometime this summer.
Since it seems like I keep repeating the same mistakes in my garden every year because I can't remember what worked well and what didn't in the previous years, I'm trying something new this year. I'm using an application called Evernote to create notes for each of my plantings.
I use Evernote for a lot of things I keep brief notes on (like story ideas) because they are easy to organize and tag and are stored on a cloud so I can access them on my phone or any computer that connects to the internet. The notes are also stored on my computer hard drive so I can access them offline also.
I'm sure my gardening notes will evolve as I discover what information is important and what isn't, but for the time being I have three templates: one for flowers, one for herbs, and one for vegetables where I'm recording things like where I bought the plant or seeds, when did I plant, when is the expected harvest, and any special plant requirements. The notes end up looking something like this:
I create the note in Evernote where there is a camera button that I can press to take photos with my iPad or my phone of a plant or seed packet. I plan to take subsequent photos for comparison or if I have any problems with mildew, bugs, etc.
I'm also adding tags to the notes, like "dry sandy soil" and "full sun", so I can sort through plants with similar soil, sun, and other requirements. I screwed up last year with my herbs -- planting them all in the same kind of soil, with the same amount of sun, and the same amount of water.
I hope to correct that error this year, which is why the herbs aren't in yet -- I'm still researching all their "preferences". Plus, I was reading that it's too cold yet for some of the Mediterranean herbs, and I should wait until temperatures aren't dropping below 50 degrees F.
I'm using Gayla Trail's book "Easy Growing" for my herb information. She has the clearest explanations on planting and caring for herbs that I've ever run across. She also has a blog called "You Grow Girl" that I enjoy.
Hopefully, all this time consuming research and recording will result in a better harvest this year, but success still heavily depends on the weather no matter what I do. Still, my second reason for doing all this is because writing things down and categorizing information helps my brain understand and remember the information. Visual references help a lot too.
So, kind of a long, texty post, but I hope you can gleen some useful tidbit from it. Or if nothing else just shake your head and utter, "there but for the grace of God go I".