How my garden grows …

Sometimes when the muse returns after a long absence, she comes loaded for bear. Other times, like now, she knocks politely on my mind and asks to be allowed in once again. I’m letting her in. She brought a camera and told me I should tell a garden story. So here it is: Mr. Wren is a master gardener (I am decidedly not). He has ideas about gardens and their creation. This year, he wanted to try straw-bale gardening. The idea is that you plant your vegetable starts in holes forced into bales of straw that have been soaked thoroughly. In the hole goes soil and the small plant. Doing this means that many of your plants are at about knee-level, meaning that you don’t have to kneel or bend to reach them, which he appreciates because of his disability. Me too — I’m not as young as I once was.

So he placed the bales for planting. I weeded out about a half-ton of soil and compost that had been … seasoning … and we filled the empty middle sections of the bales for further planting. All this took place in late April. I lost 10 pounds in the doing. No complaints.

Once everything was planted,we waited. And now things are growing like crazy. The tomatoes have little yellow flowers. The crookneck squash has big orangy-yellow flowers and a couple of actual squashes. I took the first one this morning and am now considering the best way to serve it. Battered and fried? What a temptation.

I got to work on the rest of the garden in May, clipping and deadheading and weeding. More weight loss. I can’t complain. And the result of all that work is a thriving, colorful garden that makes me smile. The foxgloves were glorious. The blackberries are coming and so are the grapes. Daylilies glow and roses are blooming in Technicolor. Even with the gray June we had, everything is busting out in wild, fecund good health.

Butterflies flutter and loop. Bees hum. Even m’ol dog Logan is getting in on the fun.

I’m looking forward to August, when the tomatoes will be nearly ready for picking, the crooknecks will be overwhelming, and the Japanese eggplants purple and

sublime. I intend to make spaghetti sauce by the gallon, eggplant parmesan, and salads filled with bright yellow cro

oknecks. Not to mention yellow and red bell peppers and fiery little jalapenos.

I musn’t forget The Girls, our five Rhode Island Red hens. They’re strangely menacing but they give us four or five big brown eggs a day and eat up all our stale bread and elderly store-bought veggies, along with scratch and feed. Nice Grrrrls.
This is what I’ve been doing during the long blog silence. I’ve been reading, too. Organizing old stories and considering which to bring back to life. I’ve missed you all, but it’s been good. Really.

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4 Responses to “How my garden grows …”

  1. Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass Says:

    Fascinating, Wren! Do you have to water things more when you use the straw bales? It seems like all the water would drain through everything very easily, as it does when we use pots for our tomatoes. But, I really love the idea! Gorgeous pics, too! -Jim

  2. No need to water more, Jim. Somehow, the straw retains the moisture, as long as it's been well soaked before the planting and, of course, you water regularly. Steve tried this a couple of years ago, too, but didn't soak the straw first… the result was depressing. We lost everything.

    Sure is great seein' it doing so well this time, though. And it's pretty easy. Thanks for the nice words!

  3. Glad you are back Wren! The garden looks wonderful, my sister-in-law may be interested in the straw-bale method. She has been using elevated beds surrounded by timbers for her urban farm. Looks like Mr. Wren got results similar to what she has been getting.

    Good harvest, and good eating.

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