Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Dirt-y Weekend!

What a truly magnificent weekend! I had forgotten how much I love to play in the… dirt! All those fond memories came flooding back this past weekend, as we undertook the project of making a garden.

Gardening has been in my blood for many years. One of my favorite childhood memories is of running through the paths of the garden at my great great Aunt Grace's house. What a spectacular garden she had! She grew every imaginable vegetable and fruit. Of course, Aunt Grace lived on a farm, off a gravel road in rural southern Illinois, and the prairie soil there was rich and fertile.

I undertook my first real garden in Massachusetts. Oh, I had grown things before, a tomato here or there, perhaps a flower, but this was my first real garden. Rows of perfectly placed vegetables, tenderly cared for and watered. I even had a perennial garden patch of asparagus, strawberries, and chives. Everything grew prolific.

Here in Texas, it's a little bit different. I tried a garden when I first moved here. I tilled the soil, added some Miracle Grow, planted, and… well, suffice it to say everything died. I couldn't keep up with it. Every day it seemed the invasive grass inched closer and closer to my precious plants, and then the weeds began taking over. The soil was like clay, not the dark rich fertile soil of up north. Plus, it was hot. Smack dab in the middle of summer, I gave it up and let the grass take it over. Nevertheless, I learned some valuable lessons for any future attempt at gardening in Texas.

First off, this newly created garden is not sitting on the ground. We built an 8' x 12' box out of timbers that sits 12" high (just let the grass try to grow up into that)! Next, we lined the bottom of our garden with wet newspapers, to keep weeds from growing, and over that we placed black plastic.

We then had five yards of garden soil delivered, of which probably two or three yards went into the garden. Still unconvinced it was of the same quality soil as our previous garden (and Aunt Grace's garden), we then added some Miracle Grow continuous-release fertilizer to the soil.

Finally, as we dug the hole for each plant, we filled it with Miracle Grow bagged garden soil.

I'll keep you posted as to how the plants are doing. Right now, it's so fun to go out each morning to check the "crops." We're growing tomatoes, eggplant, sweet onion, jalapeño, and an artichoke! I also have a row of Zinnia's for cut flowers! I'm so excited to be back working playing in the dirt!

I'd love to hear your gardening stories and challenges, and especially any tips or tricks for a successful garden in Texas! If you love gardening too, please add a comment to this post.

P.S. As promised, here are pictures from this Easter at Woodforest Presbyterian Church, where each year we participate in the "flowering of the cross."