May 26, 2008

Watching the Garden Grow

Here in the south we have some pretty short Winters so the arrival of Spring is refreshing but not earth shattering. Summer just sort of slides right in behind Spring and the next thing you know the temperatures are in the 80's and everything in the yard, especially the weeds, have just taken off. Seeds sown in hope last Fall shoot up and set flower in the blink of an eye.

Each year in late Spring when things start budding my husband and I begin our daily "yard walks." We begin at one end of the back yard and make the rounds to see how everything is doing. Dead-heading annuals, picking a stray weed or pesky beetle and always talking about what we'll add next year. This year we added a few more blueberry and raspberry bushes. One can never have enough raspberries in my opinion. Our figs are heavily fruited and hopefully we'll get more of the them than the birds do this year. We've also added several types of peppers for salsa this summer. I am in love with fresh salsa served over grilled chicken or fish. Now if I could just get the cilantro to stop bolting before everything else is ready I'd be in good shape.

It has taken me a long time to somewhat master the growing conditions and seasons here in North Georgia. I grew up in sandy, hot and humid Florida where we could grow things year round as long as we kept it watered. When I first got here I killed a lot of poor plants because I put them out too early. I now follow the "April 15th and not before" mantra my landscaping pal taught me. The soil in our yard was as hard as a rock and took an auger to plant anything more than one inch deep. That was 10 years ago and since then we've amended the soil each year with organic compost and use raised beds for much of the vegetables and other annuals. It's still a work in progress but that's the fun of it.

My husband and I took advantage of the holiday and sat in our glider on the upper deck lazily rocking away part of the afternoon. There's something magical about the early Summer garden. The water from our pool reflects on the deep greens of the new foliage of the forest of trees lining the perimeter of our property, sending dapples of liquid gold throughout the canopy. Even if you're not in the water it seems to make the yard cooler just by being there. The birds, bees and butterflies flit from one side of the garden to the other performing their dedicated services of bug control and pollination. Soon it will be time to weed the herb garden and harvest the lovely tomatoes and squash. But for now I can just sit and watch the garden grow.

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