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Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

Almost all our problems here at the Horizon House gardens involve water…in one way or another.IMG_0371

There’s a leak creating a flood; the hose has popped rendering water unavailable; the hose nozzle is broken; a spray emits from the sprayer going in the wrong direction, creating a very wet gardener; there’s water leaking across the deck under the planters creating a slippery spot, which is NOT good in a retirement community where some folks are challenged with walking; we need more folks to water pots and planters that are not individually cared for by an assigned gardener; there is the usual vacationer who either forgets, or neglects to get their garden cared for in their absence.  The list goes on and on.  All the gardeners know JUST what I’m talking about.

So, we can’t do without it, and yet sometimes we just get too much…or we get it in the wrong place.  WATER   We can’t live without it, and sometimes we can’t live with it.  Our plants?  Well, they need it, but administered correctly!

Why do they need it?  If they don’t have it, the little rootlets will dry up, no sustenance will get to the leaves, stems and trunk, and then?  A dead plant.

Here is a wonderful site that explains all the why’s and hows of water and your plants.  It comes from the University of Arizona Extension Service.

It tells about mulch.  It tells about over, and under watering, and the effects those will have on your plants.  It explains WHERE to water, and how much.  It’s worth a visit.

WATER is SO CRITICAL to every growing thing.  Without it, our gardens would be very sad places.  There certainly are plants that don’t require very much hydration.  Those are the ones we should try to get into our gardens.  Water is something we seem to be squandering.    It is important that our families have enough drinking water…but it is also important that we have food.  Every thing we consume is loaded with water.  So, almost everything in and  on our planet needs it.  It behooves us to use it sparingly, yet in such a way that it supports life-ours AND that of our plants.

I address water in my book as well.  It appears in the calendar section as well as in numerous stories.  It’s a very important aspect of gardening.  The book also addresses snow and ice and it’s affects on your garden.  Of course, in Seattle, we are not troubled too much with ice and snow, but it’s all part of the big picture.

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Here at Horizon House, we are definitely IN an URBAN setting.  Many of our gardeners here would like to have attractive vegetables growing in their raised beds, and on our gardening terraces.

Within the city

Within the city

There are things to be cautious about with urban vegetable gardening, mostly with noxious air and also noxious things in the soil.  Everything eventually gets into the soil, so it’s worth a bit of concern.

I don’t think we need to worry as much as those who live locally, and attempt to plant veggies right at the roadside.  Here at Horizon House, we have the benefit of using packaged soil or “compost” in our gardens.  We do not just dig in local soil, as do many of our neighbors.  BUT, there is still air, and rain borne chemicals that settle down into our soil.

This morning I read an interesting article on my NPR Home page.  It talks about what Washington, D.C. is doing concerning this.  The University of the District of Columbia is supporting a study on urban farming, and is in fact, the ONLY Land Grant University that deals with a totally URBAN focus.

Mchezaji “Che” Axum is the gentleman who runs the research farm for the U. of the D. of C..  “…instead of vast fields testing dozens of varieties of wheat, Axum’s research farm has raised beds, narrow hoop houses and even a shipping container. He gives growers advice on where to buy decent soil or how to compost their own, in case the land they plan to grow on has a seedy industrial past.”

This is GOOD stuff for the urban farmers within the confines of Seattle, and even the communities close by.

HH Herb Garden

HH Herb Garden

In our Gardening Terraces, some gardeners are growing pretty greens,  little tomatoes, kale, etc.  We also have an herb garden tended by two of our Garden Committee members.

The herbs are available to ALL who live at Horizon House.  It’s wonderful to be able to come down to the garden and pick nice, fresh herbs to use in our dinners and lunches.  In fact, the Garden Committee has also sponsored an herb garden for our chef, right outside the dining room, so the menu can now boast fresh herbs in our food!

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IMG_8928I just received  an advertising email from Molbaks.  It addresses cold weather veggies.  They are decent looking!  Maybe it’s something to think about when the tomatoes are done.  Rip them out and plant some cool weather, good looking veggies in their place.  Check out the Molbak’s link here.

About.com has a wonderful article about flowering annuals for cooler weather.  It would be worth a look at their site.

Another About.com posting deals with cool weather perennials.  Perhaps you’d prefer them?

Here’s a link to the University of Florida Extension Service that provides a list of flowering plants, as well as veggies that do well in cool weather.  It might help give you some more choices as well.

This is just a quickie posting, but I hope one that might give you some ideas for your gardens as our weather begins to cool down.

If you want to know when I do another posting, be sure to “Follow” me by clicking the link on the top right hand side of this page.

 

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I guess I’m on a tear with this topic.  It just seems to me that it is such a REAL possibility to mix the two without making our gardens ugly!  However, if we put veggies in the garden they should be ornamental.  Looks really DO matter!

Last week we went to Swanson’s Nursery to listen to a talk about Gardening For Seniors.  When I visited their website this morning, I found a section on “Edibles” in the garden.  Here is a picture that says it all!  It is beautiful.  I will paste the picture here for you to look at, but you really should go to their websiteEdible-herbs-veggies-Swanson's home page.container and read what it has to say!  Remember this photograph is a possession of Swanson’s-it is NOT one of my photographs!  How can anyone  think veggies can’t be attractive?

Here is a short list of some really good choices (mine AND Swanson’s) to spread among those flowers:

  • exotic kale
  • dill
  • fennel
  • asparagus
  • dark purple leaved beets (Bull’s Blood is one variety mentioned by Swanson’s)
  • curly leafed parsley
  • different varieties of thyme
  • chives
  • tri-colored sage
  • prostrate rosemary
  • green globe artichoke

What you need to plan for is the height these plants will reach, as well as how much room they need to  spread.  They shouldn’t be taking over the garden…just adding to it!

 

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I keep getting questions about growing vegetables at Horizon House.  Folks who garden also TEND to be concerned with our environment and how we utilize it.  That, for gardeners, often mean they want to be more self-sustaining, they would LIKE to grow some vegetables.  The problem is that our gardens here are beautiful.  They are there for the enjoyment of all the residents of Horizon House, as well as those who garden here.  How do we combine those two?  Beauty AND utility?IMG_2312

There are those who say we should have NO veggies, although there are tomatoes grown in pots, much to the chagrin of those others.  Nothing in our Guidelines indicates vegetables are not allowed, although again there are those who feel ADAMANTLY that the Guidelines SHOULD say that.  How do we deal with those opposing viewpoints?

Some vegetables are beautiful, and in my humble opinion can definitely be incorporated.  I can think of some rather beautiful herbs.  Or how about rhubarb (if the flowering parts are removed)?  Even asparagus grown in the back of the bed can provide a nice green backdrop.  Blueberries make for magnificent color in the fall and a well behaved shrub the rest of the year.

I can understand the brouhaha about the “no vegetables” in our garden beds, but I also think we need to be a bit more open minded about it.  I think we’d all like to be a bit more productive, providing food for our tables, as well as beauty.

I hope I get some feedback (no pun intended..although maybe it is!) about this topic, as well as some suggestions!

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