Monday, April 16, 2012

Ahh Spring is here !!!

For the past few months, I lost all enthusiasm to update my lovely blog ...horror !!!. I guess I was waiting for the warm spring sunshine to inspire me. So here I am back with some pictures from my precious little garden.

I started gardening 6 years back. We got someone from craigslist to install and fill a 4 X 8 raised bed. Best $120 investment ever! I later added tons of containers/pots with herbs, flowers, veggies and even fruit trees (!). Container gardening is ideal for someone with limited space such as condo balcony or for someone like me with a shaded backyard. You can easily move containers in sunny spots around your yard. Additionally, with pots there is no need to  amend native soil which can be very expensive.

Yes, during my gardening adventures I have killed MANY plants and learnt some very valuable lessons. Here is a list of my 'lessons' to help those newbies with a shovel in their hand and a produce-filled bucket in their dreams.

1) Mulch your vegetable patch atleast 2-3 inches thick. Georgia heat is super intense and roots need protection from the heat. This also reduces watering need.

2) When I repot an old container or til my patch, I add soaked shredded cardboard, like packing boxes etc. Soaked cardboard attracts worms and they are natures little workers that keep plants happy. Newspaper is not a good idea because the ink leaches into the soil.

3) Always buy two or more cucumber, squash, beans and peppers plants. This helps in cross pollination and you get more produce.

4) If you don't have birds & bees in your garden, there will be no pollination and therefore no fruits. Hang a hummingbird feeder or keep a birdbath next to your patch. I have a bucket of water next to my vegetable patch, this greatly reduced the number of half-eaten tomatoes by squirrels when they are thirsty. Besides, you will see some amazing birds gather around the 'watering hole' ..Quite a sight !!!!

5) Vegetables, container/potted plants need to be fertilized every month with safe fertilizers. Organic fertilizers such as EB Stones, bottled fish emulsions are amazing but it smells bad. Also look out for the NPK number on the fertilizer box, it looks something like 12-10-8. N=Nitrogen produces healthy leaves, K=Potassium and P=phosphate are required for producing and ripening of fruits. So more nitrogen during spring to get the leaves started and more P & K during summer months for fruits.

6) All plants LOVE banana peels, just scratch the surface and tuck peels near the roots.

7) Most of  GA falls under zone 7( yes, we have been rezoned-Marietta is 7a). Buy plants that are zone specific. I once planted a lilac and it died within a month, broke my heart, I tell you. Then a kind person at Pikes told me about a lilac variety called 'Miss Kim' that is heat tolerant and more suitable for Zone 8. My lilac is thriving now. Local nurseries will have zone specific varieties compared to box stores like HD or Lowes.

8) Stake tomatoes, beans & cucumbers when you plant them. This allows the roots to form around the stake and is much easier to do when plants are itty bitty. If you try to stake after the plant is vigorously growing, you will end up damaging the roots and the plant will drop all its fruits & flowers. Yep, I have done that before!

9) To keep squirrel and rabbits away from my veggie patch, I spray red fox urine near the patch.( I know sounds gross)  It comes in a spray bottle. Works every time !!!

10) To help plan your vegetable patch here is a brief list of companion plants.

Eye candy from my garden.