My "other" Spring obsession: Gardening. Anyone else?

  1. The thread about obsessions other than purses got me thinking, and at first, I couldn't come up with any real ones (I get obsessed with a lot of things for short periods of time and then forget about them- my poor husband is hoping purses are one of them- poor guy doesn't realize that's been there since I was a child). But then I realize that I DO have one- it's just so ingrained that I don't recognize it as an obsession!

    Anyway, every spring since we bought our house four years ago, I start to get itchy to get outside and plant stuff. Last year I tried to plant enough vegetables that I didn't have to buy any at the store- which almost worked, except I got tired of eating tomatoes. I had no idea how many tomatoes you could get off of just 20 plants- my coworkers were sick of them too.

    I just ordered most of my seeds, and I can hardly wait to get started- this year, I'm helping my 2 1/2 year old with her own garden of strawberries and pumpkins, both of which she loves. I'm also planting lettuce and salad greens, herbs, spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes, peas, beans, watermelons, squash, potatoes, and anything else I can get my hands on. I've even currently got a crop of garlic, of all things, that's been growing all winter. Now, whether most of this stuff will grow (no luck with pumpkins last year) is anyone's guess, but I'm renewing my vow to not have to buy veggies at the grocery store if I can help it.

    I've even got the neighborhood children begging me to let them help- one kid's mom swore he hated veggies, but the kid was picking and eating peas and tomatoes straight off the vine last year. I had to promise them all they could help me plant this year.

    It's kind of my "relax and forget about work" time when I'm digging around in the dirt. My husband thinks I'm a dork- but I grew up on a small farm, and I miss it. So I've got my own miniature farm in the middle of suburbia. And I religiously go out an water and weed almost every day after I get home. It's just calming, somehow.

    Does anyone else do this? Or am I showing too much of my redneckish roots? Lol!

    Um, wow- this was a lot longer than I expected it to be. Sorry about that, and thanks for reading if you actually made it this far.
  2. Yes! I garden too, though being in an urban area, I don't have nearly enough room to do what you do -- having space for a real vegetable garden is sort of a dream! I'd love to grow all kinds of weird/unusual vegetables: heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, charentais melons, red okra, different colored bell peppers... But I've staked out a small corner of the yard for a small raised bed, and I hope to grow some cherry tomatoes, peppers and lettuces as well as various herbs.

    Still, I'm lucky that we actually have room around our house for plants. We renovated our house over the course of two years and are now focusing on a bit of landscaping -- so I'm having a grand old time figuring out what the lighting is like in different parts of the yard, picking out trees and bushes, as well as perennials. I love it!

    People think it's odd, but I actually like weeding and I find picking the clover out of the grass relaxing (though frustrating at times!) So I understand when you say that it's calming... being outdoors, helping plants grow, watching them thrive -- it's a great feeling.

  3. :huh:O good! I was afraid everyone was going to see my post and think "omg, what a loser!" and not even read it!

    If you're doing landscaping, you should work your herbs into it- that way they won't take up your actual garden space! That's what I've done, and they are actually really pretty mixed in with the flowers. I've got sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, and cilantro and basil that I put in the front bed, and rosemary, more parsley and thyme, mint, chives, and dill in the bed around my porch. It's so nice to just run outside to grab any herbs I need instead of using the dried ones. And you didn't say what area you're in, but almost all of mine, with the exception of the cilantro and the basil, made it through the winter- I was grabbing handfuls of fresh parsley even when it was snowing!

    And, you could try the okra as a landscaping plant too- they have gorgeous flowers on them- they look just like hibiscus. Unfortunately, the stupid squirrels ate all mine last year when they were seedlings, but I'm going to try again this year.

    To make you feel better, I don't have that much space either. We have less than half an acre, and I use about a 20 X 10 space with a bunch of raised beds and pots to grow stuff. It's amazing what you can cram into a small area with a raised bed!

    I wanted to go all organic this year, but the place I get my heirloom and organic seeds didn't have everything I wanted- so it'll be MOSTLY organic and heirloom. I'm so excited now- I can't wait for everything to get here. My husband will hate me for about 8 weeks starting the end of this month because I start all my seeds inside, and every table near a window has at least one flat of baby plants on it. Poor guy. At least he enjoys eating everything when it's ready, so he doesn't complain too much.
  4. I LUV gardening too!! My DH does the veggies: tomatoes and beans. I do all the perennials, annuals, and pots. I get sooo much happiness coming home after my garden is in full swing!

    BTW I know what you mean about kids loving fresh veggies. We have several cherry tomato plants, but none of those tomatoes ever makes is to the house. My kids just eat them like they're candy!
  5. I'll be starting a garden this year for the first time ever. I'm a huge NOVICE. I've got a huge list of plants that I like, perennials and anuals, now the trick is to plant them correctly and on time. I'm considering planting an Elberta semi-dwarf peach tree... we'll see about that. I wanted to do strawberries because i eat them like crazy, but I read that they do not fruit for one whole year. I'm rather confused about whether some plants have had their proper chill peonies which I hear you should plant in fall, but does anyone know if you buy them from a nursery have they done that for you? Anyways i look forward to it, should be a learning experience!!
  6. I have -- in the back though. The front of the house has water drainage issues, and the light isn't as good in the front as it is in the back. So the front is/going to be more bushes and a few perennials, while there's more perennials and herbs as you go along the side to the back of the house. I've worked in lavender, chives, sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

    And I know what you mean about kids and veggies -- I still love picking the tomatoes and strawberries from my parents' garden and eating them straightaway; it IS just like candy! :smile: Although, after all these years, my father STILL hasn't learned his lesson about zucchini. He insists on growing 8-10 plants (!!!) and then wonders why EVERYONE asks him to stop giving them zucchini :smile:
  7. Depends on where you are. Bare root peonies should be planted in the fall. If you buy potted peony plants, then those will be safe to transplant in spring/early summer --depending on what part of the country you're in (if you're in the south, I'd get them in the ground in early spring b/c of the heat in the summer).

    One other thing to keep in mind: peonies do NOT like to be moved, once they've been planted in the ground and gotten acclimated to their new surroundings. I've heard people say it's safe to move them in the fall, but I'm not certain that's always successful. So when you plant your peonies, be sure the location is really where you want them!
  8. I'm in the process of measuring out my side garden between the neighbor and us. We just put in a fence and I want to make a little tiny formal garden in that area. So, I'm measuring out the area onto graph paper and plotting the garden out. I'm such a geek. I want to graph out the sight lines between our bedroom window and the two windows on the neighbors house. I want to put up a trellis that blocks their view into our window.

    The veggie garden in our back yard has become my six year old son's digging spot. No big loss. For some reason DH won't eat veggies out of the garden. Drives me crazy. But it's kinda a waste for me to grow veggies if he won't eat them. Last year I grew carrots and let DS and his friends pull them straight out of the ground, wash them off with the hose, and eat them. They loved them. And my MIL comes over and takes all the green beans that I can grow. Hmmmm. Now I'm catching the spring gardening bug too. Darn it.
  9. Gosh I absolutely love gardening! My parents have been growing veggies since I was a child, some of my best memories are in that backyard plot. ITA that it's a very calming and soothing thing to do. Kindof getting back in touch with nature and escaping reality for a brief time! It's also so fulfilling to see something YOU kindof "gave birth to" grow into a big beautiful plant. I'm personally more of a flower girl, but once I'm out of college and get a place I'm sure I'll start planting veggies. Good luck to you!
  10. Gardening - YAY! I have gardened for years and years. I also work in Seattle's favorite local garden center, in the horticultural information booth. If you are a newbie, many garden centers have free seminars for beginners. Also, a lot of community colleges will have some garden related classes in their collection of adult continuing ed. classes.

    The reason peonies are touchy is because the roots are easily damaged. When the roots are disturbed through planting in the active growth period, or by moving, it can throw the whole plant into a downward spiral. So plant your peony in a permanent place. In addition, bare root plants, should not be sold during periods of active growth. The roots are often clipped and there are few if any root hairs. Here in the PNW, all bare root plants are sold in Feb/Mar and should be planted immediately. You do not want them to dry out, and you want to encourage root growth. I always water bare root plants with water in which I've dissolved a mycorrhizae tablet. If you buy a potted peony in the active period and want to plant it follow these directions: Cultivate the area where you want to plant it...digging at least 6 inches deeper than the pot and 3 times the diameter. Smooth the soil and then dig a hole that is a tiny bit bigger than the pot. Place the pot (and plant) in the hole. Pat the soil around the pot and remove it. You will have a pot sized hole. Next gently slip the plant/soil out of the pot without disturbing it, and right into the hole. Your peony should never even know it was planted.:tup: Good luck. Peonies do not bloom until they are three years old, so get older plants if you cannot wait. Also, do not plant them too deep or they will not bloom, and you have to lift them, which often begins that downward spiral.

    It is very relaxing to dig in the dirt. Your garden is like your living canvas.
  11. I love gardening!! I'm not much for vegetables, though. I have orange, guava, and grapefruit trees on my yard (one of each), growing mint on a pot and a rose bush. Looking forward to growing peonies and gardenias. Gardening is one of the best ways for me to get rid of stress (besides a good workout).
  12. I don't have any patch of dirt to call my own now, but before my MIL had a spot for me in her garden. I grew gourds for Pyrography and some special squashes I liked in American Indian dishes... yummy!

    And uh, yeah, 20 tomoto plants is overkill unless you know how to can... Mom plants 5 and that feeds 8 adults all summer!

    Enjoy your gardening, I'm with you in spirit!

  13. My darn zucchini started out really well last year, and then all of a sudden decided to wilt and die. I was so annoyed. I'm hoping I can figure out whatever the problem was this year and prevent it. I was hoping to be the one leaving zucchini on the neighbor's porches at midnight, and I maybe got 6-7 before they decided to bite it.

    I'm so glad I'm not alone on here in the gardening thing :smile:. It's really one of the highlights of the year for me. There's just something about being able grow your own food.

    Anyway, out to the garden to rake all the pine needles out before they start decomposing and acidifying my dirt.

    Speaking of which, does anyone have any experience with compost tumblers? I'm thinking I really need one, as I've got a ton of grass clippings and leaves that aren't really doing anything but sitting in a pile in the woods...
  14. You can buy them bare-root from mail order houses or nurseries in the fall. Or you can buy them in big pots from nurseries in the spring and plant them. Either way they'll do just fine.

    I've moved a lot of peonies and they've always come out just fine. Although sometimes it takes them a year to get back on their feet. The trick is to do it in the fall. There's a gal I met on a gardening web site with whom I've been exchanging peony roots for years. Both of our yards are full of peonies.

    I like peonies because they're fairly indestructible and they bloom so magnificently year after year.
  15. DH and I were looking into buying one because we're avid composters. The problem is the ones we've looked at tend to be small and pricey. $500 for a good sized one. There are web sites with directions on how to make one cheaply with an industrial drum.

    You also need to be strong enough to turn the thing regularly when it's full of compost.

    We did find a few for sale for cheap on our city's local free-cycle web exchange. But ultimately we decided to just keep turning the compost pile with a pitch fork as all the drum composters we looked at were too small.