Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Solstice come and gone, and summer's coming because the Burpee seed catalog arrived

I think the seasons mean less here on the beach. We rarely have a change of seasons- the heat and humidity of summer quickly turns into the nor'easters of winter with barely a bump of fall. And then the storms turn into the heat of summer with barely a nod to spring.
We rarely get snow and don't have to worry about frost, because we have sand, and it doesn't freeze. Plants can go in the ground at the beginning of March and grow until November or Decemeber. It's a long growing season where your biggest concern is how protected your garden is from the sea salt that the wind always carries.
I love the idea of gardens because they are an impartial measuring stick.
When we moved into the house in March, the back yard was a bare thing, full of sand and pine straw

It took shape, bit by bit. First I added the raised beds, as I became obsessed with square foot gardening:

Then came the puppy, and the need for a fence (that I designed):

It was a season of hits and misses. Due mainly to the fact that I had never grown anything outside of a window box, and Nehi enjoyed ripping up half the plants when I went back to school. But there is still a big difference between the starting line and now. As I flipped through the Burpee catalog, more and more ideas took shape. This fall's nor'easters have shown me that I really need to install rain gardens on the left side of the yard, as it floods with runoff. The raised beds got moved now that the fence is in, and I know where the property line is and wanted to open up the yard. A split fence will go in to separate the raised beds from the rest of the yard (and provide a deterent to Nehi!). Fruit trees will go in on the side. The rain and flooding loosed the mortor and I managed to rip up the ugly concrete patio in the back and discovered that while the concrete on top was horrible, the bricks underneath were a great find, and I plan on using them to make a rock herb wall out front. Climbing plants (roses, sweet pea, honeysuckle, morning glories) will get planted along the fence, and I'll replace the jasmine, although to Nehi proof it, I may add some evergreen bushes to anchor them. I want a maple tree in the front yard, a marker to measure the years we've been here and something to change colors with the seasons. It may be the only way to mark the season change here!

This summer will be a little odd, as (hopefully) Nehi and I will be up in Vermont. So it won't be a heavy vegetable year as Dad is too busy to tend it. However, it also offers an opportunity for me to do a lot of early, foundation planting, and then not have to worry about Nehi ripping it up.

The yard already looks so different. And I look forward to seeing it fill out. Last year was really about just putting SOMETHING in the ground, not wanting it to look so bare, and wanting to play in the dirt. This year, the structure and plan of the garden should start to become more apparent.
Perhaps it seems silly that I would become so enamoured with the idea of planting my tiny square of dirt. But I never had dirt of my very own. I never had anything of my very own. And I've found that there is nothing that beats sitting in a garden that you've literally built from scratch and enjoying all of your hard work.

So, for my northern friends- you may be buried in snow and ice, but I am watching the tomato plants continue to grow and imagining the garden in bloom.

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