Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gardens & garden books

In March last year I wrote about attending the Alabama Master Gardener conference, where Lee May was the keynote speaker. (Don't ever pass up the chance to hear him speak - he's wonderful!)

What a nice surprise to open the February 2006 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, to find a feature article with several pages of pictures of his gardens. (Mine's a subscription, but I believe it is still on newsstands - go buy one to see the other pics.)

I probably should not admit that both of the lovely books he autographed for me are still sitting on my "to read" shelf. I have not found a lot of time for reading in the past year.

Of course that does not stop me from buying more books.

(As an aside, I believe bookstores that perpetrate placing impossible-to-remove stickers on book jackets should be punished. Severely.)

As far as I know, Lee May doesn't blog... but Amy Stewart does!

Hopefully both my garden-book reading and our actual garden will fare better this year than last.

We've come to the conclusion that we must install raised beds if we're going to be able to grow anything at all. Our beautiful vegetable garden spot apparently lacks any sort of drainage whatsoever. So when it rains heavily, like it has for the past two years, the veggies tend to sit in water for quite a while.

Hubby resisted the raised bed idea for a while, because it means no more driving around on the tractor in the garden. But I think it's inevitable.

Now, will we have the time and the energy to devote to this project? Stay tuned...


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Yay! You're writing about gardening. Spring is almost here. We went and bought a bunch of seeds the other day, and it was so much fun to be back at the nursery looking at the offerings. It's early, and it's only going to get better. I hope you have all the time you need to plant the garden of your dreams.

Sharfa said...

Ever thought of trying square foot gardening?

I bought Mel Bartholomew's book last fall and plan to give it a shot this spring.

Rachel said...

Looking forward to hearing all about the garden this year!!

roger said...

looks like you need floating vegetable beds. i second the recommendation of square foot gardening.

pablo said...

There is some debate about the matter, but most people I talk to recommend that you NOT use treated lumber for making your raised beds. The theory is that the poisons in the wood will leach into the garden soil and find their way into your vegetables. As I said, there is some debate as to whether this actually happens or not, but as long as you haven't started making the beds, it's something to consider from your friend in Missouri.

Floridacracker said...

I use 4 inch pvc pipe to raise my beds, but that might not be enough for your drainage problem. Like Pablo, I was avoiding the pt wood next to my veggies. I bought the cheap drainage pipe with holes so the pipe stays put.

Your lettuce looks like the genus Ulva. :)

KFarmer said...

A friend of mine only plants in raised beds. She uses cement blocks and bricks. In addition to the ground space, she plants different veggies and/or herbs in the holes at the top of the blocks-makes for easy weeding.

Another friend used stacked old tires to plant taters- he said it worked fine.

Good luck and happy planting- It's almost time to plant taters!

happyandblue2 said...

If you make a nicer garden won't the critters eat it all anyways..

Rurality said...

RD this time of year I always want 50 million different seeds... my thought-garden is large and glorious! And never needs weeding. :)

Sharfa & DPR, we did Square foot at our old house, because we had such a small space. Thinking that we might do it again.

Rachel I'm hoping it won't end up being a comedy of errors!

Pablo, I've read the debates... some people say that as long as you have a certain distance between the treated wood and the veggies, it's ok. Not sure about that though. I guess if we went that route we could always plant flowers at the edges.

FC I had never thought about PVC pipe. Had to look up Ulva... you may be right - it was hard to tell because some critter ate it all soon after this picture was taken!

KF we did the block thing at our old house too! With herbs in the holes. It worked pretty well but you have to make sure that the herbs don't need a whole lot of water because the blocks dry out faster than the rest of the garden.

H&B I hope not! They have gotten lots of it in the past though.

weldergirl said...

Now, ya'll know they don't treat lumber like they used to anymore. I think it was last year when the new regulations went into effect. They used to treat lumber with cyanide salts and now they only can use copper salts and some other more benign compunds. Thats why when you see it its a bright green. They may have a certain amount of time to phase out the old stuff so you may still see it around for awhile. Now, whether the new stuff is safer, I don't know. But this is supposed to be a safer formulation for people and the enviroment. I know handling it though, it rubs off on you terrible! You must wear gloves or you'll have green hands!

shannon said...

hey karen - one thing that might speed up the raised bed process is to but the gizmos I've seen in all the gardening mags lately, basically plastic joints that join the four boards to make your raised bed together -that way you just need to cut the end pieces to size, if that. Old discarded fence boards work well for us! (though with our big plans, I don't know if we'll do permanent raised beds - pigs as rototillers would just wreck 'em)

Rurality said...

Weldergirl - no, I didn't know that!

Shannon thanks - I don't remember seeing those either.

I suppose one other idea would be to drag up some of the cedar logs from the woods... they take a long time to decay, and we might have enough. This has the advantage of letting hubby use the tractor to pull them!

Hick said...

I love BH&G and I saw that article. How cool that you have his book and autographed. Confirms my suspicion that I am your evil twin (same name, different universe...if you see me, run...)

Anyway, we have raised beds which keep the veggies out of any standing water...which we don't have because we live on the side of a mountain...but it doesn't bring in any more sun. Maybe if I just raised the beds about 200 feet (above the tree level) we might get more sun. Heh!

Marsha said...

I haven't cracked open my Better Homes yet but you've convinced me to make time tonight. Usually it goes to the bottom of the pile because the paper quality bugs me.

I read From the Ground Up a couple years ago and still crack it out from time to time. I loved her essay on canning (surprised?) and visit the blog from time to time but her gardening experience is so far from mine that I've had trouble keeping the inspiration I get from reading her.

Rurality said...

Hick, I knew I had an evil twin somewhere... :)

Marsha, I know what you mean, it's so thin that it's hard to turn the pages sometimes. But it's worth it, especially for Lee May.