In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
June, 2010
Regional Report

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The large surprises and small pleasures make veggie gardening enjoyable for many, both young and old.

Really, In MY Garden

The backyard sparkled with fireflies- hundreds of yellow bursts popped and flitted over my new vegetable and cut flower garden. A quiet moment in heaven, yes! It's about 11PM; I'm hanging sheets and t-shirts outside to dry overnight. My neighbor lets me use her clothesline so I try to do laundry when she doesn't. So far, so good.

This season I'm fortunate to have my own substantial patch of soil to play with. What I don't have is time to tend it as I'd like. Having an in-ground garden is a much-appreciated gift, a spot to grow my favorites- yellow bush beans, 'Chioggia' beets (and four other varieties), fresh spinach, cukes, crookneck squash, oriental greens, butternut squash, tall zinnias and cosmos, basil and more.

New Garden Prep
Last fall, my landlord applied hot manure to the area to kill the grass. Tilling it under this May, he realized he'd not be using his half as planned. A neighbor judged the soil so poor, it would need more amending than either wanted to do. They opted for a single crop. Potatoes. Good idea. The spuds quickly leafed out. Now the large plants are so huge, there's little room for weeds.

My half is more complex and rather random. I drew no plan, contrary to my advice for a vegetable gardener. What I do depends on my energy level after a day of professional gardening and a bout with Lyme disease. Minimalism and simplicity are foremost. I'm operating on experience from my first organic vegetable garden some 40 years ago.

Frankly I wasn't expecting much from this new Wyndmoor garden. The soil is clumpy and clay, with the occasional hunk of straw/manure. Before sowing anything, I used a flameweeder to fry the many small violet leaves and the few grass clumps. Flaming weeds is much easier than hoeing or hand-picking in an unplanted bed.

A Start, Far From Perfect
I kept postponing trips to the local township facility for leaf mold to properly amend the lackluster soil.

One evening I just walked outside and dug into the uncomposted bed, carefully spacing 'Apricot Blush' and 'Cut and Come Again' zinnia seeds in four short rows- a start for my cutting garden. That wasn't so hard. I moved three feet north and hoed five furrows for beets- 'Baby Ball', 'Jewel-Toned', 'Chioggia'.

I fashioned an upright hose hookup at the garden edge, attached to a long hose to the house's hose bib. Water source in, I saturated the seeds and wondered if anything would sprout.

They did, and more. Now a ribbon of wire mesh weaves through half-dozen cherry and heritage tomato plants, encircling the end plants. Climbing beans are beginning to cling to the other side of the wire. Within a week of planting, hefty 'French Gold' filet beans, 'Tri-Color' bush beans and edamame (soy beans) pushed skyward. The mound of 'Sunny Supersett' crookneck squash has five plants.

I've watered everything once since planting. Of course, it rained later that day. I'm so excited about the taller-by-the-day beans. This suburban veggie patch is off to a surprisingly great start. The basil's going in tonight.


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