Friday, May 13, 2005

Gardening on a Friday


Originally uploaded by ryanmshea.

I enjoy working in my garden, talking about my garden, and looking at my garden. Sometimes people look at this little 12' by 3' plot and say "oh, its just a little tiny garden; I was expecting more". Nope, there is no more.

Its funny to me that although this is the fourth year I've planted - I still know next-to-nothing about gardening. Usually I will research hobbies more and take them a bit more seriously, but in this case I have been content to fail and learn my own lessons.

With each passing year I attempted to dig deeper and deeper into the rock-hard Virginia red clay - using only the flat-ended shovel I had in my shed. This year I got a garden claw for hand tilling, and I broke down and purchased a spade. At this point I would consider the soil excellent quality and denseness . It has a rich dark color, loose consistency, and is speckled with tiny tiny bits of red clay that help maintain moistness.

Based on how easy it is for the weeds (mint) to grow, I'd say that the root structure of my peppers is doing well also. I've installed some ghetto irrigation soda-bottles in the soil to act as a water funnel to promote deep root growth. This year I finally reached what I would consider a passable depth. I raised up the garden with some 6" pressure treated lumber and some wooden stakes.

I've got some jalepeno, habanero, hot bananna peppers, cherry hot peppers, and cayenne peppers. A lemon-boy tomato plant is making a cameo in the center of my garden and will hopefully produce more than the pitiful yield (two) of my tomato plants last year, and they'll be a fun yellow color.


  1. Try mixing sand in with your top soil, does wonders for holding moisture and makes it easier for roots to grow out.

  2. I read that tomatoes grow well in sand. Unfortunately we have a lot of clay around this area. I added sand to my garden last year or the year before. Sand + clay = concrete... and needless to say nothing grows too well in concrete. The loose organic material I have now seems to be great for maintaining moisture. I used to be of the mindset that clay wasn't too bad because it'd hold onto moisture much better than plain old dirt - while that may be true for heavy penetrating rain followed by long dry spells, it's not true when you have regular short watering. Further, the roots suck at penetrating the clay - so now every time I see a dried ball of red clay I break it up and sprinkle it around, hand mixing it in with the organic material. It may re-form eventually into clay balls, but maybe not.

  3. I certainly hope that you get more than just the two tomaters as well... that was just downright wrong last year. Margaret had a potted plant on her patio that was kicking out six tomaters an hour, and your garden had, what six, something like six tomater plants and the squirrels got all the tomaters.