Archive for May, 2009

Get yer June on…

“The garden is an unhappy place for the perfectionist. Too much stands beyond our control here, and the only thing we can absolutely count on is eventual catastrophe. Success in the garden is the moment in time, that week in June when the perennials unanimously bloom and the border jells…it’s easy to get discouraged, unless, like the green thumb, you are happier to garden in time than in space; unless, that is, your heart is in the verb.”

–Michael Pollan, Second Nature

Howdy gardeners–

According to the Missoula County Extension Service’s G-calendar, a very helpful guide ( calender.pdf), May is a month for sowing carrot and cucumber seeds, onions, lettuce (plant every 10 days?), broccoli, potatoes, beans. But now soil temp is surpassing 60 degrees!, which is nice because we can begin to plant the type of veggies minds are attuned to hearing (namely tomatoes y corns).

The average last frost date for Missoula is May 23 so if yer an antsy, wormy or nematody Missoula gardener like I am, you will plant yer corn soon. Soon enough so that, depending on the variety, you’ll give them enough of a growing season to expel kernels while still avoiding the frost potential that atypical Montana seasons flex. My mother’s first attempt in 2009 to plant corn on Woodford Street was very unsuccessful. She put another batch of seeds in the ground this weekend. We lie in wait. The garden calendar also says “you can plant early tomatoes and cucumber transplants if you use a row cover fabric or wall-of-waters.”  Peas, Max


Built, Planted, Wait

The fence was completed last weekend….things were planted this weekend, many things. I also added some native plants to the space….now I wait and watch. I’ll let you know what comes up first until then here is a visual image of my backyard transformation.

Dig Day…the grass is gone!

Dig Day

My Fence Building Partner

Heather & LaNette

The Fence is Done…and now I wait

The Fence

I wait to see what grows…..Garden Planted

Garden planted

Fifth Street Estates May 25, 2009

Let there be lettuce.
I spent some time out on the Fifth Street Estates acreage today and to my delight, the sprinkling tractor incident didn’t wipe my entire crop of lettuce. There, where I planted them, their rows somewhat mangled and misshapen, were the remnants of what I had planted. I also planted some lima beans, cukes (because I have the TOP SECRET HM recipe for the world’s BEST dill pickles) and some more flowers. In my starter indoor crops, two out of a hundred seem to be showing life. I am discouraged about the rest–so much for getting a head start…

Fifth Street Estates May 24, 2009

Now I have carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, and peas planted, as well as some varieties of flowers.

I had a possible setback this week when my landlord set out the little tractor sprinklers to water the lawn.  One of the little tractors got off course and drove right into my lettuce patch. The water was blasting down on the lettuce and kale and I have no idea how much of myplanting is lost, if any at all. My nice neat rows may have been blasted to chaos!  So, in that respect, I may get a mixed green crop!

My raspberries and strawberries seem to be doing well with lots of new growth both in terms of new leaves an cane growth. Rhubarb, which has been growing in the same place for a million years, is growing up nicely and I will be eating some this week.

The garden still looks like a dirt patch, but I am seeing green things coming up.  This week I hope to be able to discern the difference between the weeds and crops.

Digging and the art of neo-garden generosity

Today Mason Giem will be leading a crew of volunteers down the winding road to berryville.

He plans to leave the UC/University library parking lot at 5:30 and the venture shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. It’s a long bike ride to the house on the West side of town, so we recommend carpooling. We will have a car or two there to do such things. Call Mason at 406-596-6273 for more information.

I’ve convinced my mother, Shaun Gant –although it wasn’t very hard to do so–to participate in a three-way trade of gardening widgets.

1) Steve, a friend of one of the greatest new gardeners in the world, has offered up his berry patches for aspiring gardeners.

2) Out of this digathon will come a bounty of “Everbearing” strawberry plants, some of which will go to Shaun’s burgeoning jardin in the slant-streets neighborhood.

3) For these mid-summer delights, Shaun has agreed to give a bundle of the tomato seedlings (cherry, canning and eatable varieties) that she’s been rearing for weeks to Marci Watson, one of the top ten new gardeners in the world. Marci plans to transplant the little seedlings into larger containers on her summer deck (where they will, as so many have done in my mother’s care, likely shoot up real high-like).

This is the sort of resource sharing and trading that 1kng encourages. If you have extra plants or seeds and have a desire for something outlandish, post a comment here and we’ll see what finds you… This is the system we have in place now, but the plan is to set up a groovily formal Craiglist for vegetablers soon.

We haven’t quite figured out the name [“Eplantlist” (short for eggplant list), “The Ceres Series” (after the godess of agriculture), “VegList”, “ArugulaList” are being tossed about casually] or exactly how to create a local Craiglist, but we’re on the beet. Do you have any ideas?

For information about strawberries (including choosing varieties, planting and harvesting) check out this site.

Love ya,


gardening at 201 chestnut

I’m writing the day after the first seeds were planted, a process which seemed to take a long time after the initial work day. I think i have had insemination anxiety, which has resulted in getting a lot of opinions before doing anything. And there a lot of opinions out there! For instance is there too much horse manure in there?  Maybe, maybe the soil is too acidic, so I worked a lot in and raked a lot off, storing it in the compost for next year. How about planting in rows, vs a cluster pattern. Rick pointed out that people don’t like to line up –it makes them feel vulnerable and bossed around –so why should make our vegetables do that?  How about the deer because the garden is so close to the park and the river?  Philip and I put extra high fencing and that brought me around to a good garden tip in harsh way –always wear goggles when cutting metal fencing that is wound up like a spring or a rat trap! I nearly lost my right eye to gardening yesterday when we cut a length of rolled up fencing with bolt cutters and it whipped out like a giant angry cat nearly clipping me eye into jelly!  Very lucky, and just little scarred.

And then some planting. I was amazed at how many seeds were actually in these little packets, and how small they were –directions like space eight inches or six inches or even one foot apart seemed impossible to accomplish. All my consultants said that they thinned after some successful plants came up.  Right now it just seems like a wilderness of possibility –I had to make another diagram as to what was planted where. Another tip I am following through with –don’t let the seeds dry out once they are sown–the soil should be lightly moist all through germination.

I saw some fellow gardeners with drip irrigation and they talked about kits ont he market that got them started with that. I went to Home Depot, Loewes and Quality Supply looking for such a thing, no luck. Ace has got pieces of home systems, but no starter kits. My consultants have offered ideas about it that seem specialized –that tomato plants don’t like their leaves wet, or that water that is aerated is SOMETIMES better than soaker hoses.

I think my advice needs a balance with more experience, but the seeds are sown!


Creating a Space for Growth & Solitude

The amazing weekend of April 26th transformed my backyard from a green oasis to a thriving backyard farm. This newly created 300 sf area needed more than just dirt, horse manure and love, it needed its own space to grow (separate from the high energy dogs), and I needed my own solitude.

This solitude has been easily created, with the help of a very dear friend, by an amazing fence. This fence was made from reused materials of shower glass doors and old lumber. The opaque glass doors, taken out of their ugly hardware, were framed by the old lumber and adhered to fence posts. The gate, made of clear glass, gives the dogs a birds eye view of what they will be missing out on, while I work my green thumb magic.

While most gardeners have been focused on planting seeds, babying their newly sprouted plants and waiting for the right weather to transplant them, I have focused on creating a space for me to linger. So what happens now, I’m way behind on the planting or am I?

I will still plant some seeds (end of May), beans, snap peas, kale, chard, lettuce, squash, carrots, onions, garlic etc. However, I will aim my sights at the local farmers market for seedlings. The local farmers market is a great place to pick up the seedlings you need which leaves you time to create and make a space for that garden you’ve always wanted. There’s no reason to rush when you have the whole month of May to work out your space and visit the market for your seedling needs.

Interested in seeing this dear fence? 1000 Gardens and my dear fence will be hosted on homeWORDS’s sustainability tours, June 13th. Visit for more information.