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April 28, 2008

So, contrary to all forecasts – will I ever learn?, Saturday was a beautiful day. We went to Costco early, and then I did a little gardening while Larry and the Peep had lunch and a nap.

Last year I planted cucumbers and zucchini in a little plot near the back porch. We got a ton of zucchini, which we quickly ran out of ideas for, and no cucumbers. So they are off the list this year. I am using that spot this year’s grand experiment.

Before I explain the experiment, let me show you what we’re talking about.

As you can see, I lose interest in the garden once things stop producing. I pulled up most of the vines last fall, but other than that, left things alone, didn’t even put the stakes away. So first things first, I had to clean things up.

There now, isn’t that better? I raked away the leaves (I like to think of them as free mulch), pulled out anything that was growing, and removed some of the larger rocks. The crabgrass that grows up among the brick edging is pretty much permanent until we take up the bricks and re-do the whole thing. Which is so low on the list it isn’t even on the list yet.

I understand that the only visible difference between this photo and the one above is the stakes, but trust me on this one. In this photo, the first round of lettuce and spinach have been planted close to the lattice, and a double-row of snow peas has been planted in front of the stakes. It’s hard to tell here, but the stakes are slanted, and the tops are leaning on the bottom rung of the porch railing.

And now, here’s where the genius comes in. Lettuce and spinach need shade. Snow peas need sun. And staking (they grow to 8 feet or so). As the snow peas grow, the vines will climb up the stakes. As the lettuce and spinach grow, they’ll be shaded by the vines on the stakes. If all goes even modestly according to plan, the snow peas will grow bigger and longer than they did last year, and the growing season of the greens will be extended by a good bit. It’s a win-win!

I can’t take credit for the idea, really; I saw something similar in a catalog, and modified the idea using the items I had on hand.

We bought some plants at Costco, too; a 12-pack of irises, which I put out front between the lavendar bushes (way too close together, I think, but I have my doubts on the viability of these things; if four of the 12 survive, I’ll be thrilled)

and a 12-pack of hostas, which Larry planted on the garage side of the lawn (along the strip of grass that never gets any sun), which I forgot to take photos of.

The raspberry canes are coming right along

as are the indigo plants (I guess technically they’re bushes, and they certainly look bushlike when they’ve grown, but in spring they look like plants).

We actually have three of them, but apparently I neglected to photograph the third.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon…more on the knitting portion of the weekend later.

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