I tend to be a high strung person. My husband Dean is always accusing me of being uptight. I do not mind this so much. It is part of how I function. Now that I am a Mom, though, I have even less time to relax. This is worrisome. Fortunately, I have a few go to things that help me out. The first is reading, which is pretty typical. The second, believe it or not, is cleaning. I love a clean house and I love the ability to get lost in my thoughts as I make it that way. If I have a particularly bad week, you might find me polishing my stainless steel or scrubbing my baseboards. Each to his own, right? The third and the subject of this post is gardening- AMATEUR GARDENING that is.
My Mom is absolutely amazed to hear this is one of my passions. You see, I grew up gardening. Both my grandfather and father were avid gardeners. We always, always had rows upon rows of corn, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. If he was feeling especially ambitious, we might have beans, onions, potatoes, carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe, you name it. And since my father had no sons, he had to turn to his three daughters as little helpers. So it is only natural that I should garden. My mother’s amazement comes from the fact that I did everything in the world to get out of yard work- feigning illness, claiming I had homework (in the summer!), sleeping in as long as humanly possible.
So why the turn around? I love the feeling of the earth on my hands. I love to plant something from seed and wait, sometimes impatiently, for the first signs of life. I like to know that I am able to provide food for myself. The modern American has very little in terms of survival skills. I think this is a mistake. Everyone should know at least one or two ways they could make do should there be no Wal-Mart down the road.
Spring comes early in Austin. Sometimes as early as February. And with spring comes a major landscape overhaul. On my spring gardening to do list:
- Rake up leaves
- Thatch the lawn
- Weed and feed the lawn
- Fertilizer stake all the trees and large shrubs
- Rake up leaves
- Weed in all garden and flower beds
- Prune back perennial shrubs, herbs and flowers
- Rake up leaves
- Top dress lawn with compost and manure
- Pray that lawn comes back and I don’t have to resod
- Recondition soil in garden and flower beds
- Plant vegetables and marigolds in garden
- Replace any perennials that did not make it through either summer or winter
- Plant annuals
- Spray all new planted babies with seaweed
- Fertilize garden and flower beds
- Mulch, mulch, mulch!
This is a very lengthy to do list, and Dean and I have been working on it for several weeks now. We have only made a small dent, but one of my bigger projects was prepping all the garden and flower beds. Here are a few of my materials:
Texas soil has a lot of clay and is pretty shallow. What lies beneath is mostly limestone. So I try to bring good nutrients into my garden bed each year by adding a mix of: TX friendly topsoil, Scott’s topsoil, peat moss, compost, manure and Lady Bug brand Hill Country garden soil from Austin’s Natural Gardener.
Here are my piles for mixing in the garden bed. This picture was taken after painstakingly weeding out the gigantic winter weeds and turning over the existing soil and raking it back out.
As you can see, there is some lettuce already growing. This was a total surprise. I planted lettuce from seed last March and it got hot so fast that barely anything came up. I happened to look in the garden one day this winter and voila, some butternut lettuce had sprouted. Sweet.
Here is what the garden looks like after mixing in all that good soil:
Now I just have to wait until all fear of frost is behind us to plant the tomatoes currently living on my patio. I did plant some new parsley in my herb garden. Parsley is biennial. It is still kicking around year two but does not produce much edible parsley. I replaced mine with one Italian parsley and one curly leaf parsley (the garnish).
I then gave haircuts to all their new friends: Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Oregano and Thyme and also mixed in lots of good soil and compost to keep them happy.
Sadly, the rain is interfering with my plans to top dress the lawn this weekend, but it will help my parsley to grow, so I can’t complain too much. Until my next update, happy gardening Austinites!