Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Secret Garden

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to talk about what I did for my sister on Mother's Day.  Fortunately, the reason I couldn't talk about it was that I was busy creating her present.  Always a good reason!

My sister's food choices tend to fall in the Mexican and Italian cuisine categories.  Knowing this, I wanted to plant her a garden that would make her food preparation easier.  While I designed my spaghetti garden by using seeds, I decided that she needed to have one that had complete transplants, in order to make the job of growing it that much easier for her.  It's a gift, after all, so she needs to spend more time enjoying the harvests than watching seeds sprout.

Watching seeds sprout is more of my thing than than it is hers, after all.

First I had to find a location for the garden.  That turned out to be easier than I thought it would be.

She has an old dog run in the yard that doesn't get used.  Occasionally she'll place something inside to get it out of the way, but for the most part it isn't touched.  Trumpet vines grow along the fencing, even covering the top.  In short, it's a gorgeous, unspoiled area, which means it's perfect for her garden.

I walked inside, and within 2 seconds I knew where the garden would go.

This corner may not seem like much to look at, but it's already a great starter spot.  The leaves that had fallen there were about 2 inches thick, which means that the spot has been getting a good amount of nutrients. Plus, the leaves helped retain moisture in the soil.  Another bonus!  As you can see, the area gets dappled shade.  In most areas this would be horrible for vegetable growth.  In the desert southwest, however, heat rises past 110 degrees on some summer days, so this will act as a heat buffer.  The long, thick branch was already in place, so I didn't have to worry about setting anything around it to mark off the area.  Bonus!

Because of the location, because it was such a fun, secluded area, I decided to name this "The Secret Garden." 

I placed two jalapeno plants, one fresno chili, and a large tomato plant in her Secret Garden. 

As you can see, there's plenty of room to add herbs in between the spaces, so I may head out to buy a few seeds for her, as well.  She loves basil, so that may be a good idea.  Either that, or I'll place some cilantro inside.  It grows like a weed here, and she uses quite a bit of it!  I think she'll get a decent amount of use out of this garden.

The tomato plant, of course, needed a cage.  The area is already protected from the elements, so I realized that I didn't need to buy or create a full cage.  All I needed was something that could help hold the weight of the branches when it comes to fruit.  No problem, at all!

Since the tomato was placed at the corner I already had two walls of the cage.  All I needed was one more wall to complete it.  Since I firmly believe in reusing whatever is at hand, I looked around for dead trumpet vine branches.  The trumpet vines are huge, so I didn't have to wait too long to find branches that would attach to the fence easily.  As a bonus, she can add to this cage in the same fashion if more caging is necessary at a later date!

I'm quite happy with my sister's Secret Garden.  It's something that will last much longer than a silly bunch of cut flowers, and it's filled with plants that she'll be able to enjoy all season long.  My sister gave me a wonderful nephew, and she deserves this. 

How could I not give her such a love-filled present, when you consider that?

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