Spring in my Memphis gardens

Now that spring has finally decided to stick around, I am finding it hard to focus on much other than gardening. My new backyard garden is tilled, planted with sugar snap peas and hopefully poison ivy free.

My new backyard garden

The very flimsy garden fence seems to be all the deterrent Zeb (the dog) needs to steer clear. The seedlings I started over a month ago are leggy and almost dead. I need a grow light.

Incredibly leggy tomato starts

I decided to try square foot gardening in my raised bed. This bed is dedicated to salad greens, chard and kohlrabi so I’m succession sowing each row a week apart.

Square foot gardening in the raised bed

My asparagus survived the winter and are starting to send up new shoots. The swiss chard, which was the rock star of last summer’s garden, has started sprouting as well.

Swiss chard and asparagus shoots

I also get to garden at work, at least for the next few months. Our summer exhibit at the Pink Palace is Wicked Plants, which was put together by the North Carolina Arboretum and is based on Amy Stewart’s book of the same name. My boss decided that he wanted to add a live poison garden to the exhibit, and, since I’m the one who realized that we needed to start ordering plants a month ago, I’m in charge of plant procurement and propagation. (Incidentally, today’s post is brought to you by the letter p.)

Sweet peas for the Pink Palace’s poison garden in this summer’s Wicked Plants exhibit

I’m spending a lot of time with my hands in the dirt these days. I’m still making it up as I go, and I love it.

Dirt Therapy

It’s another dreary, overcast day, which, as always, put me in a funk. This general funkiness was compounded by the fact that I was tired, the kid was screaming for lunch, and the dog was whining incessantly for whatever he didn’t have right then. I was about ready to mentally shut down and throw a blanket over my head. Not that that would have solved any problems, but it would have felt nice to disappear for a moment. Then the baby finally fell asleep, and the dog had gone in and out enough times to satisfy whatever canine imperative he was feeling.

For a moment there was silence, and yet the funk persisted. So I went outside and planted pansies in my front flower bed. I have no idea what I’m doing when I plant flowers. I never remember to water them, and I never seem to plant them in the right location. Basically, it’s by sheer evolutionary design that any pretty plant is able to survive living in my yard. It’s a personal goal to get better at growing flowers, but for today, the simple act of putting them in the ground made me feel better. I eschewed my gloves and went for the soggy earth with my fingernails. I dug holes, loosened roots and firmed them into the ground. Then I hit the raised bed and pulled out the cherry tomato plants. I planted kale seeds a few weeks ago so I thinned those seedlings and also replanted the areas where none had sprouted. Where the tomatoes were, I planted collard greens. The basil is still going strong, so I am going to leave it in the bed until I make pizza or the first frost, whichever happens first.

It’s still dreary outside, but I smell slightly loamy and feel much happier.