Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crooked Garden Path

Rainy, cooler days and morning fog, the perfect weather for transplanting seedlings and planting seeds, inspired me to finish planting my "backyard" garden, a small (10' x 10') plot in the northwest corner of my backyard.  I created the backyard garden in early August by heavily mulching the corner of the yard that receives sunlight.  I still think of it as an experimental garden, though, because I don't know if the plot will get enough sunlight over the winter to grow vegetables.  So far, the four broccoli plants that I planted almost two weeks ago have established themselves and are growing.

I started by building a path, because I wanted all parts of the garden to be accessible.  And, more honestly, because I really wanted to make a path.  I love garden paths, and my backyard is full of bricks left behind by the first owner of the house.  I've been thinking about those bricks, and imagining an entire backyard path system, over the last few weeks.  Needless to say, I have a tendency to think way ahead.  So it was satisfying to begin an actual path by laying bricks, side by side, diagonally across the garden.  I already love the resulting path, but I have to admit that it looks a little overbuilt for the small garden plot.  Later in the day, when Lee saw the newly-planted garden, he said, "I like your, uh, ... crooked path."  Someday, the path is going to make sense, and, until then, I think it's cool.

The crooked path created two irregularly-shaped planting areas.  In the narrower sections, I transplanted baby plants from the nursery.  A Brussels sprout plant and two cauliflower plants, both Snow Crown variety, joined the Green Magic broccoli plants on one side of the garden.  On the other side of the path, I planted three cabbage plants, one Stonehead, one Ruby Perfection, and one Early Jersey Wakefield, and two Georgia collards plants.  In the remaining space I was able to make six rows of different lengths for planting seeds.

I bought too many seeds this year.  I was thinking about all the new garden space I was going to have, and I started imagining so many rows of cool-season greens as I stacked so many seed packets in my basket.  I'm still hoping for all those rows, and, to be fair, I still have several weeks for planting.   But, at this time, with the AC-corner garden occupied by basil and Serrano peppers, and the front yard garden still in the planning stages, I only had six, short rows for planting seeds.  I decided to plant two rows of my favorites, Bright Lights Swiss chard and Detroit Dark Red beets, two rows of Asian greens, Kailaan (a Chinese kale) and Mei Qing Choi (a pak choi), and two rows for salad, Italian arugula and a Mesclun lettuce blend.

When the transplanting and planting were done, I raked the soil smooth, rearranged the mulch around the transplants, and watered the garden.  As I watered, clouds rolled overhead and a light sprinkling of rain fell.  Despite the ideal conditions, some of my transplants looked tired from their day of travel and transplanting.  I asked the now-established broccoli to put in a good word for me with the new plants, to reassure them that I would keep them well-watered over the next couple of weeks.  And, no, I'm not implying that I talk with plants in any serious way.  It's more like I talk with plants in the same way that I ask the toilet to stop running or converse with Benji the cat, answering each one of her demanding meows (she's an extremely vocal cat) with a statement of agreement.  We're not talking the same language, and maybe we're not even communicating, but I get to say my intention out loud, and somehow that is helpful.

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