Valley Permaculture Alliance

It has been eleven months since the Valley of the Sun became 'home'.  Eleven months since I dragged my buckets of iris and chamomile and orange globe mallow and mint into this foreign land of the sun and said,"Grow!"  Alas, every green token of my life before died except the iris and mint. But, iris and mint grow anywhere, right? This spring I scattered chamomile seed in my daughter's now flourishing flowerbeds to no avail.  It's a weed!  Can I not even grow a weed? Last week I noticed a lovely lacy greenness by the spigot:  Chamomile,  right where I planted it last year and right where I watched it die.  Smiling broadly, I dragged the hose across the yard with a keen eye for anything green that I might recognize and spied two more tiny chamomiles starting in the middle of no man's land. Not a drop of water that hadn't fallen from the sky had graced that piece of dirt yet there they were.  So,  I then began scouring the grey road base backfill of a yard, inspecting every weed, which wasn't difficult as so few survive the terrain, and to my amazement an orange globe mallow, not two inches high, had begun to grow.  Life is funny that way, isn't it.  Joy and life are found in places we least expect.

The garden... yes, the garden is still in the process of becoming.  Neem Oil has become my dear friend along with coffee grounds and Epsom Salts.  The week after a treatment of fish yuck found my plants, specifically my failing peppers, greening and adding leaves.  Happy dance!! 

The okra has me puzzled.   I planted seed last October and the little darlings were so miniature it was humorous. Deciding it was due to planting in the wrong season (still trying to figure out the seasons here) I planted again this past March.  Ha Ha!  Knee high to a grasshopper!  The onions and bachelor buttons in the same bed are doing wonderfully. It is making me scratch my head (what an odd idiom ~ something else to look up).  

Can one green bean variety be soooo different from another?  Apparently so.  Nash was planted first and the birds truly enjoyed the seeds.  Not being able to replace with the same variety, I replanted (twice ~ thank you Mr. Orange) with Heirloom Top crop and they just never took off.  Meanwhile, the Nash that survived the birds and the cat, a dozen plants or so, mostly in the iris bed, are looking beautiful and producing lovely beans.  Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, being completely disgusted with the whole bush bean drama, I pulled up the dead and dying and planted potatoes instead.  I hadn't planned on planting potatoes.  You know when you go into the pantry to retrieve the spuds purchased just days before and find sprouting seed potatoes?  I had one of those moments.  Not to be discouraged by a mere lack of mashed potatoes, I put on a pot of water for rice and proceeded to plant russets in the green bean wanna be bed.  I am confident they will do at least as well as the beans.

I suppose the most surprising thing since I have begun this journey of backyard gardening is how nearly nothing is as I had come to expect. Squash and Armenian cukes, historically the most prolific crops ever, languish.  Cilantro that never topped 2 feet grew shoulder high.  Tomatoes that traditionally grow a healthy crop of huge horned worms were instead plagued with curling leaves and not a worm to be found. Okra that would normally tower over me is not three inches tall. Half the marigolds, always the MOST reliable flower,withered and died, while a hand full of small sunflower seed scattered inadvertently on the concrete like ground sprouted into healthy beauties.  God is teaching me something here.  Perhaps it is to expect the unexpected and to bloom where I am planted. 

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Comment by De Ann on May 6, 2014 at 2:50pm

I just returned from a speed run to Missouri.  The first thing I did after kissing my babes was walk thru the garden... looking at the new growth, picking a few tomatoes, marveling at the lettuce and cress, mourning the disappearance of a few seedlings... 

Powell, thanks for the links.  I enjoy gleaning from the Herb Lady as I have SO much to learn.

I am new to having to amend the soil to the extent necessary here.  It is very much trial and error for me.  I have found Neem Oil to help greatly with the Whiteflies that destroyed my garden last season.  I spray/drench the leaves about every two weeks.  I use the Epsom to add magnesium to the soil, sprinkling a tablespoon or so around the base of each plant and just scratching it in a bit.  The fish yuck is a fish fertilizer from Lowes... I detest the smell of anything fishy and this one, 'deodorized' with wintergreen oil, is tolerable for me and super yummy for my garden.  :-)  

Comment by Powell Gammill on May 4, 2014 at 7:57am
Comment by Sue Wefel on May 4, 2014 at 7:48am

The garden is definitely a place to commune with God for me, along with loved ones who have passed. Even if nothing grew (and thankfully much does), I would find it a restful and rejuvinating place to be.  Thanks for sharing, could you share what Neem OIl is used for and your recipe for "fish yuck"....also how you use Epsom Salts.

Comment by Cynthia Carter on April 29, 2014 at 12:10am

Life is crazy, isn't it?  The garden also seems to be a place where God can speak to me, too, pointing out the things I get busy and forget. Perhaps it's because the pace is slower and nature cannot be forced into our plans, just nudged and worked with. :)

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