Season change for an out of order gardener

Some strings, some vines. Were I the neat and proper gardener I’d have something like a symmetrical trellis for my front porch planter boxes. BAH! Mother Nature imposes sufficient order, although if you notice some string has been added along the way. The brown stuff in the foreground is from this year’s Chinese green bean crop, but with the October and November heavy rains — and the insects that come with them — the bean season ends but a substrate of dead vines remains. The green stuff? That’s spinach which is doing just fine but in some dry seasons past has been eaten by leaf cutter ants. In each case, it’s a frugal and natural idea to save seeds.

A sort of unkempt but cared for garden

garden, photos and note by Eric Jackson

The maleantes might have killed me on this spot, or inside the house, this past June. Such was not my fate, even if they did beat me up, steal or destroy many of my things and run their weenie “You’re not from here — you have to leave!” fascism on me. I’m still here tending and partly living off of my garden and I believe — although the doctors who were working with police and prosecutors never gave me the diagnosis — I’m gradually getting better from a concussion.

(Those tend to be the case when one gets slugged upside the temple with a fist that has a rock in it, and is decked and hits one’s head, and the one thing that, after a prosecutor-caused two-day delay in medical attention they at least tell me that the CAT scan says “cerebral hematoma.” In any case, doing the reading I do notice the symptoms.)

And just in front of the spinach vines, growing in a separate pot in front of the planter box? The treatment I can afford, turmeric roots. Turmeric tea is a quite ancient medicinal infusion, prescribed since ancient times for concussions and other injuries and maladies, and not subject to patent claims and price increases by Joe Manchin’s daughter. Out back I grow some cecropia trees, whose leaves I occasionally make medicinal use of as well, for other things. If self-medication is self-deception, and so very often a cop-out for drug abuse, in this case I don’t think I will be addicted and I don’t grow opium poppies or coca bushes, nor, as the cop who inspected my garden may have looked for in vain, do I grow the ganja weed.

In any case, when rainy season changes to dry, there is work that even the laziest hippie farmer should be doing. Forget about clearing away the dead vines. To the extent that they survive the dry season winds, they are substrates for the new crops to come. To the extent that they crumble and fall, they are to be swept up and composted.

Water will be a problem in the months to come. It’s not properly frugal to try to water whole planter boxes. For the dry season’s bean vines, there are pots in front of the boxes whose soil needs to be conditioned for new growth, whose plants need to be rotated, and which can be watered more readily during the dry season.

It’s not like a northern  winter, where most green things change colors and die more or less all at once. Different plants have different cycles here. If you are so damned orderly as to grow a monoculture on your little farm, it could mean seasonal hunger. But if you prudently diversify and plan to have food of various sorts growing all year long, you can largely live off the land. EVEN IF “the land” might be some pots on your condo balcony.

Order on your trellises? The sun, and things that may be in the way to cast some shade, will impose some of that. Some vines climb toward the sun and others — like spinach — may want to hug the ground but might be trained to grow on your substrate of string and dead vines.

Some of the plants you grow will be annuals, and some will be perennials. You need to take those things into account. And then the soil needs to constantly be built and replenished. And kittens need to be taught that using the planter box as a litter box is not the sort of soil building you’re ready to tolerate. There are various things to put on the garden, but one important part of the dry season chores is to get some of your compost from out back and mix it in the planter boxes and pots. It’s all the germs from good compost that you want, to make your garden a living ecosystem, as confined as it may be.

Inspection? That should be constant. Getting militant about it, as in “Death to the fascist insects!” mode? When needed, but don’t poison yourself or the soil in which you grow your food. So as the year changes, out front it will in large part be a matter of reconditioning the soil in the pots, sowing a few beans, and patiently watering the dry season beans with the watering can every day.

Is it a jungle out there? That’s what you want.

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night oil







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