Sunday, April 6, 2008

My plants are growing, but my compost is not done

I took a tour around my yard today, and found many plants coming up. The onions and garlic I planted in the fall I expected. I was happy to see a couple of strawberry plants looking healthy already; I'm doubtful they'll make any berries, but they're pretty plants. My chives are looking sickly already; this might be their last year. Chives must need more sunlight than strawberries.

I was especially excited to see a lot of belladonna lilies coming up. These do better than any other flower in my yard because their leaves come up now - when it's still sunny before the trees leaf out and shade everything - and make and store all their energy for the year. The flowers come up by themselves in the fall ("Naked Ladies" since it's just the flower stalk, no leaves then). I divided a huge clump of them last fall: over thirty bulbs, about ten pounds worth! Only about eight plants had bloomed the last two years we lived here, so I was quite surprised to find so many bulbs there. I mailed half to my mother, but am still hoping to at least double the number of flowers I get this year.

I planted cuttings from my indoor Wandering Jew plant in two containers between our door and driveway. I really enjoy coming home to that bright splash of purple on the path between my car and house.

I was disappointed to see that my compost pile from last year was not finished. I didn't turn it at all; previous successful piles I had turned once in the fall. This is what I get for being lazy. I'll probably pick out some finished soil for my houseplants; the apple trees will just have to do without until the fall. My new plan is to start a third compost pile; this way each pile will have eighteen months to finish, and I'll get a finished pile every six months instead of once a year. So hopefully it will work out to be better in the long run.


Jennifer F. said...

You have musical *and* gardening talent...this isn't fair.

Speaking of which, do you have any book recommendations for getting started with gardening? I love the idea of growing our own food, but I could not have less of a clue of how to go about doing that. Maybe I'm actually looking for two recommendations: 1) a sort of overview of how plants grow, like Biology 101 stuff, and 2) a how-to manual of specifics of what type of dirt to get, what tools to get, etc.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

lyrl said...

If you could see the swath of dead plants I've left behind me, I assure you, you would not claim I have gardening talent.

I haven't read many gardening books. I like the few I've gotten, but I don't know how they stack up against what's available. That said, a book I got while we were in an apartment is Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. It's perfect if you want to grow anything on a deck or patio. Even now that I've moved to attempting in-ground gardening, I still refer to this book: the growing and nutrition requirements, transplanting information, variety suggestions and just general growing tips are all helpful and clearly explained.

I like writings by Steve Soloman. Some of them are specifically for the climate in the Northwest, but a few just general gardening books for all climates. His book on composting is available for free as an ebook here (scroll down, keep scrolling down, the book starts eventually). I also own and have used Gardening When It Counts. It doesn't cover as many plant varieties as Bountiful Container, but it has all the in-ground garden information missing from a container book.

Hopefully that will at least give you some ideas.