Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Beauty and Pleasure in Gardening

Do you remember the saying "April showers bring May flowers".... well it seems that the showers have moved into May this year in Maryland. So far, the weather has been comfortable, and we have had plenty of rain, besides, we have not used any air conditioning this year, which is really "cool."

GARDENING

We've managed to plant onions, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and beans so far. We threw a little lime on our tomatoes to help them grow nice and big. Our peppermint patch is thriving, and the oregano we planted a few years back is already doing well. Our blackberry bushes have flowers and just looking at them makes us drool. They are our most prolific growers.

Our grapevines are still young, but we do see grape clusters on them. The Greeks like to stuff the grape leaves with a rice mixture, that include lemon juice, and olive oil, then slow cook until deliciously done. This is a time consuming meal, but well worth it!







Our two fig trees are also young, but one lonely fig is already growing!

Here are some tips I learned over time about gardening:

COMPOSTING

Composting is at an all time high around this time of year. Everything goes in our composting pile, from vegetable and fruit scraps to coffee grinds and egg shells. The scraps should be cut into small pieces to aid in the composting process. Please - No oils or fats, or even meats, because they attract rodents. Also, any tea bags, and leftover tea can be added. The tea adds extra moisture which is so critical for the compost to age properly. We avoid adding anything that is synthetic, like plastic bags.



Our compost pile is located in the back of the yard, where we've dug a sizeable hole and covered it with mulch, and over time, the mulch and scraps become part of the soil. It takes about six months to get a good size mix for our garden, so we typically start in the fall and let it sit over the winter. Also, in the fall, I throw extra mulch over the areas that we will be planting in.

During the spring and summer, we continue to work the compost pile, and make sure it gets watered occasionally. By now, you've got all this rich soil ready from the compost pile to use for growing.

WATERING

Water that comes straight from the tap is not necessarily the best water. Rain water is good to collect and use in the garden. Also, if you allow your tap water to sit a few minutes in a bucket, so that the chlorine degrades, that helps. Water at the roots, and preferably during the day. If you water in the evening and the leaves get wet, then they don't have a chance to dry and eventually can cause disease.

This time of the year, there is no need to water every day. When the weather becomes hotter, like in late June into July and August, then you can water more often. Watering also helps the weeds to pop up around your plants, so try and weed them out whenever you get a chance, or else they will take precious nutrients and water from your plants.

FRUIT TREES

If you've planted fruit trees like we have, this is a good time to check them out. If they are young, make sure their bark is covered with one of those white bandage like coverings to keep the animals from scraping their teeth on them.  Also, it is good to spray them with an organic spray insecticide, which smells typically like fish oil, and make sure when you spray, you're not in the path of the spray. It smells nasty. Also, if it rained after you sprayed, be sure to spray soon thereafter, because the spray may have been washed off.


That's it for now.  Enjoy your gardening!

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