Saturday, April 5, 2008


Intros all around!

I’m a northeastern Oklahoma gardener, zone 6B, who desired a space to collect her thoughts - primarily when it’s raining - and record information about her garden. Full disclosure: I’m taking a brutal licensure exam on April 28. Until that date, this will probably be a fairly low-key, bare-bones operation. That is unless blogging becomes the new preferred method of distraction from studying (currently the main contender is digging the and amending the beds out back…)

Story and Credentials

I am not a pro and am not trying to sell this blog in that way. I’m more of a semi-seasoned amateur. I’ve gardened off and on (grad school is a harsh mistress) for the last ten years. I started my green thumb life-space by working in a retail plant nursery in Oklahoma - one of four summer jobs to pay the apartment rent I so foolishly thought I could afford (Undergrad ignorance is delightful in some respects, no?)

This was followed by work in a landscape nursery after I moved to Florida for a brief stint. I worked for a German war bride who was 72 and still made me look like a chump in the three o’clock sun.. I supplemented my income by running the cashier for an awesome, crazy old Viking who ran a farm market stall. He had a red braid down to his butt and a red beard down to his belly. Great guy, the sort from whom you could rarely distinguish fact from fiction (he’d led one hell of a life) for the betterment of everything that came out of his mouth. I occasionally picked peas and lettuces and beans, etc., for a friend of his who swore he could grow anything, anytime, in sand. (And he probably could. THAT guy was a pro, but people like that don’t blog.)

Truth in Advertising

I definitely privilege vegetables over flowers. Preferably grown organically. If I’m going to work that hard, I want to be able to put it in my mouth. Maybe this is a Freudian thing.

I do plant flowers. They just come after everything else has been planned for and attended to. I’m especially partial to flowers that are low-fuss, seed themselves, or perennial. Local is even better. Given the difficult climate in Oklahoma, that’s actually sort of a life insurance policy for the “pretties” (flowers; food-plants fall into the “practicals” category). To be fair, plenty of flowers are needed for appropriate biodiversity and to support a healthy, organic crop. I know this. I’m integrating it. One old cottage garden flower at a time.

My first bona fide vegetable garden was sown in the spring of 2000 while living on a 10,000 acre research ranch. I had beginner’s luck, first-garden-placement luck, and Florida weather luck. I could grow tomatoes in December! I harvested big, beautiful cabbages, Swiss Chard by the ton (slight exaggeration), beautiful tomatoes, spicy peppers, sweet carrots, herbs galore, and all sorts of other beauties. I was hooked.

Time, destiny, and fate intervened moving me back to my home state of Oklahoma. Here the weather is blazin‘ hot (no g required) or freakin‘ cold (ditto). Our springs and falls are nominal, more of a passing joke, and regular high winds and occasional tornadoes keep us on our toes. Here it is a regular occurrence for everything to burn up in August. I am still impressed when fellow gardeners manage to nurture some things through the summer and into the fall. It can happen - you have to be choosy with the what (cherry tomatoes, okra, peppers) and careful with the how.

Le Jardin Today

Academic year 2006-2007 I spent on an internship in Salt Lake City, UT. I was apartment bound and couldn’t grow much beyond window sill herbs (not even a balcony!). Boy, did I get the dirt-joneses! But lo and behold! I finally graduated and moved “home,” with Oklahoma, in general, serving as the receptacle of that broad designation. In the fall of 2007 my honey and I, along with our two cats and a Siberian Husky, moved to our current abode, which boasts a large back yard.

Since December I’ve been slowly working on two long strips of ground. One is 20′ by 5′ and the other is 25′ by 5′. One is currently filled with spring practicals, like cabbage (Early Market Copenhagen), two types of broccoli (De Cicco and Early Purple Sprouting), two types of beets (Bull’s Blood and Golden), three types of onion (red, white, yellow!), turnips (purple top white globe), kohlrabi (Early Purple Vienna; my 87-year-old grandma farmed most of her adult life and planted kohlrabi in OK in the 50s. She pronounces it “coal-RHAHBBAY” and says it very fast, like she’s trying to speak Japanese. I find this hilarious), carrots (Dragon), radishes (French Breakfast), peas (Little Marvel), lettuce (Buttercrunch), spinach (Virofaly), and arugula (Sylvetta).

Lest you get jealous or get the wrong idea, almost everything is in the 2-true leaves stage. I transplanted a few cabbages and broccolis, and set the onions in from sets, so they’re a bit taller, but the garden still looks mostly like dirt with tiny seedlings. I could’ve gotten things off to a much earlier start with a cold-frame or greenhouse, but there’s that old thing about beggars and choosers, so there you go.

Inside under lights I’ve got tomatoes (Opalka, Golden Queen), peppers (Roberto’s Cuban, hot pepper mix, Lemon Drop), Sweet basil, Giant Mammoth dill, cilantro, and Turkish Orange Eggplant.

After the weather “stabilizes” (quotation marks indicate irony) I’ll plant Provider bush beans, Romano pole beans, edamame, a smallish cucumber, and Chartenais melons.


Biblical times: grasshoppers, blood.
Currently: snails, birds.

My precious little seedlings are being snipped at by soft-bodied, spiral-domed creatures and feathered flying machines! This aggression will not stand! Thus far interventions include home-made bird scarers (more on this in a future post), hair (human and dog), and diatomaceous earth for the snails.

Question: Why does diatomaceous earth kill snails and not earthworms? This is the subject of much current puzzlement and research.


Well, this is the inaugural blog. Hip! Hip!

I’m excited.

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