Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gardening in The Flupocalypse

Anyone want to do some Flupocalypse Gardening while we've all got so much time on our hands? I got skillz and would be glad to share, so if you have questions, lay 'em on me.  As I get more questions that help me think of more tips, I'll update this, so check back every now and again.  (And yes, I know this isn't the flu, but "Coronapocalypse" just didn't seem to have the same ring.)

Here are a few tips to get things started:

~ To find a spot that gets enough sun, take pictures throughout one day, every hour on the hour, then flip through them that night to count how many show sun on the spot - that's how many hours of sun that spot gets. Choose a spot that gets *at least* 6 hours of sun a day, preferably not all afternoon or evening sun. If you can, avoid the west side of your house or other building - things tend to fry there.

And you don't need a formal garden plot - just find any old patch of dirt with enough sun. If you have a flower garden out front, use that! Don't have any ground, but do have a balcony? Use old pots or empty coffee cans or used milk jugs or even straight in that bag of potting soil - just lay it flat and cut it open. Boom, done.
~ Need compost, but garden centers are closed? Look under bushes in your yard for all those leaves that have accumulated over the years and dig under them. See that black rotted stuff that doesn't look like leaves anymore? Rake it up, pick out bits of sticks and wood, and use that. It's called "leaf mold" and is fab stuff. Be sure not to use it if it's mostly un-rotted wood since if you mix that in, that will tie up nitrogen in your soil and starve your plants. Mulch on top of the ground = good. Mulch IN the ground = bad.

Also look in your garage for that half bag of potting soil, and round up those pots containing nothing but dirt and Ghosts of Springs Past. Most potting soils are made of things that will definitely lighten up the dirt in your new garden plot. Other things you can use: peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and coco coir fiber if you have any of those.

Nice side effect of this exercise: your garage's garden corner will get cleaned out.

~ Don't think you have seeds to plant, and again garden centers are closed? Look in your pantry. The best and quickest thing you likely have are those pinto beans from HEB. Yep, they'll sprout. Yep, the ones for cooking. Yep, they really will. So will the black eyed peas, navy beans, limas, and garbanzos. The only ones that won't are anything "split" or "cracked", like lentils and green peas. If you have any whole grains that haven't been steamed or rolled or whathaveyou, those might, too. It'll take 'til fall to get anything from them, but what the heck! They're fun to grow.

~ Look in your fridge, too. All these things will sprout:
white potatoes, sweet potatoes, sprigs of basil and mint, ginger root, turmeric root, seeds from pumpkins and watermelons and spaghetti squash, carrot tops (though it's a bit late for them), and basal root plates from onions (especially scallions).

~ Once things get going, it helps to fertilize.  If you have any fertilizer in your garage, use it.  Even if it's not the "right" numbers on the bag, it'll help.  Even if it's a conventional "chemical" type, it'll be better than nothing - just DON'T use any kind of "weed and feed" since the "weed" part will kill all broad leaf plants, and your veggies are broad leaved plants.  And DON'T think, "A little is good, so more must be better!"  Nope, it's not.  Really.  If anything, give them less.

If you don't have any fertilizer, try to find alfalfa-anything at the feed store.  A bag of alfalfa pellets or range cubes will work.  Put 2 or so inches in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, cover with water, let sit overnight, and water your plants with it.  Do this once or twice a week.  You can do this a couple-or-three times before you've gotten most of the goodies out of the pellets, then just spread the sludge out over the top of your veggie bed soil and do it again.

Also, put any kitchen scraps in a blender with some water, then spread that on the beds as well or dig a little shallow trench a foot from the base of your plants to pour it in, spreading it out fairly well, then cover it back up.  Blending it up will help it decompose faster so the plants can get those nutrients quicker.  Don't put it too thickly anywhere - spread it out to about 1/2" thick - so it breaks down quickly and doesn't get nasty-smelly-slimey as it breaks down.  If it does, it won't hurt anything, but isn't nice to work around while it rots.

So come on everybody! Send me your questions! Just post them right down there in the comments, and I'll answer them as soon as I see them.  Or if you'd rather, comment on my post on Facebook.  See you there!

Even the dogs are bored.

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