We Went Out to Dine

My Wife the Gardener
by Peter (poem in old magazine)

She dug the plot on Monday –
the soil was rich and fine,
She forgot to thaw out dinner –
so we went out to dine…

I mentioned in February that I was ordering my seedlings — veggie, herb, flower — from Good Earth Farm in Weare, NH, this year. The list of what I ordered is at the link. There were 120 plants in all, and yesterday, when I went with a friend to the farm to collect our seedlings, I bought another 9 plants (1 ‘Clarke’s Heavenly Blue’ morning glory, 1 ‘Sunrise Serenade’ morning glory, 6 ‘Bright Lights’ cosmos, and a rosemary), for a total of 129 plants.

So, yesterday afternoon, while dvr’ing the Indy 500 (funny how dvr’ing and driving look alike), I planted 121 of those plants, all but 5 parsley, which I really don’t need — they come up year after year and have spread widely — and 3 of the Queen Red Lime zinnias, which will go in the ground when the rain stops.

129 seedlings don’t look like a lot of plants ….


… but they are. Especially when you first have to spend about two hours weeding the main vegetable garden, and another hour or so on other projects involving more weeding, pruning, tearing python-sized roots out, mulching, watering, transplanting other plants that you want to save but not right there (milkweed in particular).

For me, with only a small part of the yard that gets 6 or 8 hours of sun most days, and with an even smaller area that’s got a fence around it to firmly discourage deer, figuring out where the plants should go is the most difficult part of planting them. Some people are smart about this and plot it all out on paper. I tend to carry plants around until I find what seems like a suitable spot for them.

Spouse was able to enlarge the fenced-in garden a bit yesterday, by about 8 square feet — and we only managed to grab that space after I hacked the mound o’ lemon balm in half, not that it will notice. That added area is large enough for me to fit 3 cucumbers, a summer squash, and a bush bean inside it.


(The extended part is a triangle to the right of the green-framed door.)

I managed to get most of the veggies into the fenced vegetable garden, but there are plenty of cucumbers, summer squash, lettuce, and chard outside of it in various other parts of the yard. Some of the flowers are in the veggie garden, to provide pollination sources for bees and whatnot, and most are outside it, shoved in among perennials and shrubs.

annual ‘Standard Mix’ bachelor buttons in the front yard
two of three ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ echinacea in the front bed by the driveway (the other one is in the back border near a pagoda dogwood)
three of six ‘New Day Formula Mix’ gazania in the front bed by the driveway (the other three are nearby … you can just see the watered soil off to the right in the photo)
three of six ‘Jewel Mix’ nasturtiums in the fruit guild (the other three are in a bed by the patio)
a ‘Marketmore’ cucumber and either a ‘Diva’ cucumber or a yellow crookneck summer squash in a patio bed
all six ‘Benary’s Giant Mix’ zinnias in a patio bed, near a baptisia I bought at a sale last year … I had to pull out a lot of Anemone sylvestris to make a spot for it. (The A. sylvestris spreads like mad, which is odd, because I’ve seen it written that it “Can be very aggressive in loose soils, but spreads less in clay soils” and clay soil is mostly what’s here. But possibly it’s loosened clay soil.)

Here is what the vegetable garden looks like now; it may seem sparse but everything will grow! And I need walkways to the hose and for harvesting. Labels are below each photo.

Near the house and soon to be a bit shaded by a buddleia that’s just begun to emerge from the ground, plus the hydrangea you can see leafing out: 4 red and green romaine lettuces, 4 ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, 2 cucs (I think a Marketmore and a Diva), 5 Aroma2 basil, 4 tomatoes — honeybunch red grape, tomatoberry cherry, and sungold. Tomato cages will be added this week; one branch/leaf is being held up now with a plastic pot.
Side of garden near elderberry shrubs and soon-to-be tall Asclepias incarnata: 1 Aroma2 basil, 2 (Sungold, cherry) tomatoes, 2 arugula, 1 Provider green bean, 1 morning glory, 1 red romaine lettuce, 4 New Ace peppers, 2 Marketmore cucumbers (and garlic in the distance)
Another view of this row, from the yard. You can see the spigot and hose, and a morning glory in the front.
Peas with trellis, 1 green romaine lettuce, 2 arugula, another view of tomatoes and basil
side view of most of the veggie garden, some vanilla marigolds, and some of the blueberries, lemon balm, amsonia, etc.
front view of most of the veggie garden, with honeysuckle blooming on left and a lilac on the right. The peas and garlic have straw around them. In a month or two, the buddleia will hide the tri-paned window.
I started a herb container with a ‘Bouquet’ dill and a rosemary.

Today it’s raining fairly hard, and it’s chilly, 49F right now at 1:30 p.m. I worry for the cucumbers especially. They’re sensitive and supposed to be watered with warm water in the spring (until the soil and night temps warm up), which I did yesterday, but I can’t control the temperature of the rain. I could cover all 12 of them (actually, 10; two the Divas were wilted when I got to planting them) with plastic containers but I’m not. I also could have waited a few days or a week to plant them, especially the cucumbers and peppers, but due to some pressing family issues and a possible sudden trip away in the near future, I decided I had better get them in the ground while I’m available to do it. I’m hoping forecasts for temps near 70 this week will keep them alive.

He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summers.
—  Jonathan Swift

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