It seems strange to talk about gardening when most of my family and friends are still in the depths of winter but here in Oklahoma, although not much can grow in the winter, the ground doesn’t freeze more than an inch or two (and not at all this winter), and we don’t get much accumulating precipitation. So, it’s an ideal time to get gardens ready for Spring planting. The soil has already warmed enough for the cold hardy veggies like lettuce, beets, peas, which I will plant this weekend or early next week.
My old gardens didn’t need much work, a little weeding, a little cleaning, some protection from browsing, and a fresh layer of compost. The soil on the wall side is 10 degrees warmer than the soil across the path, so it’s ready for planting sweet peas.
To my surprise, gophers eat rosemary. Before I knew what was happening, one had eaten all the roots off one plant and was slowly pulling the rest into it’s maw. I snatched the rest away from the greedy gut and dried it. Now I have half a relish jar of dried rosemary. I’ll be getting a replacement plant from one of the local growers sometime this Spring and I’ll experiment with castor oil to repel the munchers.
The gardens (Peter calls them the graves) over the geothermal wells and were built using the sheet mulching technique. They’ll be used for various vegetables. I had enough material and space for 3 of them between the Bradford pear and the peach tree. I’ll gradually build more beyond the Bradford pear, but three is plenty to start.
These are my three sisters gardens. I’m experimenting with a method used by Native Americans, except that instead of burying a dead animal in the bottom of these four foot diameter mounds, I buried raw kitchen scraps. In these I’ll be growing corn, squash and pole beans, known as the three sisters. The corn grows in the middle of the mound, the beans grow up the corn, and the squash shades the soil. Sometimes a fourth plant is added, usually a flowering plant to attract more pollinators.
This is the rhubarb garden. I picked up ten roots while in Texas, and they’re evenly spaced along this thirty foot garden. The garden serves a couple of purposes. One is obviously a place to plant rhubarb, but it’s also a swale berm, which will help protect the house from any future floods.
The last garden, finished yesterday, contains the new fig tree. I reused edging tiles rescued from other locations around the house, threw on 2.2 cubic feet of peat moss to lighten the clay soil, then top dressed it with an inch of compost. I left one rose bush there, but moved the bigger one to the north end of the rhubarb garden. I’m hoping to add some strawberry plants around the base of the fig and maybe, if the fig grows well, replace the other rose with a dwarfing variety of fig at some later date.
So, after a busy winter, I have eight new garden to work with, and at least one more garden is planned to stabilize to the slope above the well gardens with more strawberries. Only time will tell what I reap from all this sowing, but to have fresh, uncontaminated, fruits and vegetables, straight from the garden, is worth any effort.