I spent most of the day on the patio, working on my “garden”. I started about 10 a.m., took a two hour break for lunch and an errand or two, and finally came in about 9:30 p.m. You would think with nearly nine hours of work, I would have accomplished more than I did. Looking outside now, I see the two Better Bush tomatoes and the two Citronella Mosquito plants happily in their pots; but that’s it. Certainly I finished more than just four plants in day?
Actually, more was completed, it just doesn’t look like much yet. All of the planters, save three – a window box, and the two “patio pickers”, are now 90% full with fresh potting mix. I thought this part of today’s chores would pass by much faster than it actually did, but I didn’t expect amending the soil to be so intensive. Now, I could have just used the potting mix straight from the bag. My plants would have grown, but by mid-summer they would have been suffering. When the temperatures outside reach in the upper 90’s, it isn’t uncommon for my patio to reach 110-115 degrees easily. The backside of my house and my patio both face West, which means from noon until dusk, the stucco house and concrete patio absorb and bake in the afternoon heat. So in the past, I have always added sphagnum peat moss and polymer water crystals to my patio plants in order to keep the plants from drying out and prematurely dying. This task has usually taken a few hours at most and my flowers and the few peppers plants have always fared pretty well.
But this year? This year, in an effort to better control my purse strings, my diet, and be a little more Earth-friendly, I’m growing mostly vegetables and dwarf fruits. (My orchids and two rose bushes are the lone exceptions…more on those later.) Like the rest of America, I’ve noticed the price of fresh produce slowly climbing up and up, right along with gas prices, and the produce lately hasn’t really been all that fresh.
And like many others, I have had a bad case of obesity, the new Great American epidemic. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables has been a large part of my healthier eating regimen I started at the first of the year. Through better eating and more exercise, I’ve lost 45 pounds in four months and I’m working on another thirty.
These two reasons logically brought me to the third – to be more Earth-friendly. Now, I’ve always considered myself to be eco-friendly, albeit, not eco-perfect. I have actively recycled for the better part of ten years, and whenever possible, I fully believe in re-using/re-purposing items to keep them out of our landfills. So, I have joined the great community of those whose philosophy is “grow and buy locally” when it comes to my produce.
All of this is well and good, but where did my day go? It was spent amending potting mix with sphagnum peat moss, perlite and organic compost with cow manure. (I decided to leave out the polymer water crystals for now – polymer and organic just don’t seem to mesh for me; but I will keep them on stand-by should we move into another drought season here in Georgia.)
Nine hours, 2 six gallon planters, 10 five-gallon planters, 8 four-gallon planters, 6 three-gallon planters, and four 24-inch window boxes later, I now have all of the planters ready to receive the seedlings that I have been nursing for weeks. It doesn’t look like much, but once planted, my patio garden will be on its way to producing a healthy ‘garden of eatin’ for me and my family. So tomorrow will be my fun day – placing my plants in their permanent summer home so I can watch them grow.
Lesson learned - don't waste the day away by sleeping past sunrise.