Neither of us really knows anything about growing a garden, and just about every store bought herb or houseplant we've brought into our home has not survived a year. We used to name our plants: there was Pablo, the pablano; the thyme was Deg and cilantro was Edwin - named after two old friends of mine; there was Palmyra, the palm; Crotonia, a sickly croton,; a basil plant named Basil (pronounced with a British accent), and possibly others whose memory has been lost in the vast graveyard of two hopeless gardeners. We no longer name our plants.
Despite these failures, we decided to start a real garden after we moved to our new home in Water Valley. There's already a large plot set aside for the purpose, and we figured we could rely on our neighbors' knowledge, who get a great deal of their food from gardening. In fact, I was talking to one of them awhile back, Ronald, who is 68 years old, and has lived in Water Valley his entire life, that it wasn't until last year that he'd had french-cut green beans, since the only green beans he'd ever eaten were from the gardens he'd kept since he was a child. A friend of his had come upon a wrecked semi-truck full of french-cut green beans, and had been able to come away with quite a few cans, and some ended up with Ronald - and they are now his favorite version of the green bean.
So, we went out and bought some seeds, which sat around the house for awhile. They kept moving: from the dining table, to the kitchen counter, and then to the coffee table. It was here that the dogs found them while we were out of town. Probably $40 worth of seeds were claimed by Hoka, who it turns out will literally eat anything. Last night I discouraged her from eating hot ashes from the BBQ. I wonder how long she will survive. But, we regrouped after this defeat, and Hannah got some solo cups together with some soil, and we got them going in our spare bedroom, since the nights were still freezing. Her method is to cut the bottom out of a solo cup, and then make a cut down its length. This is then fit into an uncut cup, so that when it comes time to transfer the plants, the inner cup is removed, soil and all, and placed into its plot without disturbing the roots. We tried this with the Basil yesterday, and it worked well, though the inconvenience of this method is that the solo cups take up more room than cell planters. Cheap though.
Once the tomatoes started coming up, and it seemed to me our garden was actually going to happen, I decided on a whim one day to build the greenhouse. Usually when I'm starting projects like this, I say something like, 'It'll only take me a day or so,' which never turns out to be right, but in this situation it came together remarkably quick. By the end of the day, the frame was made and covered with plastic, and there were only minor things left to do. It's an argument for waiting to do things till you're motivated to do them.
Since we knew there was still a few freezing nights ahead of us, we put off moving the plants to the greenhouse till yesterday. We'll be watching the weather closely, and if it looks like a cold night, we plan to put some heat lamps in there, but I think they'll be alright from here on out, and Ronald tells us that the cold actually toughens them up. The greenhouse really works though: I was building shelves in there yesterday, and it felt like the depths of summer. I've left large openings around the door frame for it to vent some, but it'll most likely require some venting windows in the ceiling before long.
What we've found out so far is that tomatoes come up quicker than everything else. Behind them are the onions, and we've got one cantaloupe coming up. The peppers and eggplant have not showed face yet, but I understand they take a bit longer to get going. We've started some herbs in two planters I've put into the floor of the greenhouse - these will live (hopefully) in here yearlong. Only the basil of these has come up. Everything else will be planted directly in the garden.
Our next big push will be in preparing the soil and rows in the garden, which will be a good bit of work. We have an old garden tiller, but it was given to us broken and probably hasn't run in ten years. We'd thought about getting it fixed, but after talking to my buddy, Tim Gooch, I think we'll just do it slowly by hand. He goes out with a shovel every day and flips the soil, which aerates it, and allows you to work a bit of good bagged soil in there with it. This takes longer, but we won't have to pay to have the tiller fixed.
Well, stay tuned as the epic saga continues.