Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bad planning. Big mistake. The conclusion.

Chicken word of the day, Don't count your chickens until they are hatched: proverb cautioning against spending assets until they are in hand.
 
Earlier, I described the events leading up to a meltdown in the shade of an enormous red maple tree.

We had completed two of four 16' x 5' raised beds. They were beautiful—fourteen inches high, full of sandy loamy soil, begging to be planted and covered with compost. They were also in a lot of deep shade for much of the day.

There were two more beds in the works; they had been tilled, paths dug and the first course of the reinforced sides installed. But Jay and I had the wind knocked out of us when we saw our neighbor's red maple shade our beds at three in the afternoon.

Since that maple wasn't going to go anywhere any time soon, we had to look to the east. On the corner of our property, just over the fence, a large three-trunked hackberry tree shaded our garden in the morning through noon. One of the three trunks we have rights to cut down because it leans right over our property line. But the other two trees that we can't touch cast just as much shadow onto our back yard.

We looked up the owner on the city assessor's site, found their name in the white pages, and I called. The property is a three-unit rental and the owners live in a neighboring city. One of the owners answered the phone and I introduced myself as the backyard neighbor of their property on East Washington.

I explained my desire to garden in the back yard, and that I planned to remove the one trunk. But I offered to remove the other two, at my expense, if they would let me. The woman wanted to talk with her husband first. A few days later they returned my call. They had spoken with the tenants who did not want the tree cut down "to maintain privacy."

Tomatoes and peppers are leggy, but have some flowers and fruit.
Even more depressed, weeks went by with two unfinished beds. However, despite the shade, I planted the two completed beds with tomatoes and peppers. It was a dreamy task despite the shade. The beds are tall, the soil loose, and it was fun to dig those plants in. I figure I'll get a few fruit from each plant, but nothing like the productive plants in my community garden where the plants literally get sun from sun up to sun down

The closer bed is now planted in beets, the further will be planted with lettuce.
I finally decided to do something with the other two beds, either rip them out or finish them and plant something in them. I looked up shade-tolerant annual vegetables and found a decent list - lots of lettuce and peas. We also had this huge pile of gravel in our driveway that was supposed to be for the bed paths, and I had no idea what to do with it.

So while on vacation in early July, I hired someone to help me and we finished the paths and moved all that gravel. The beds look great, and I decided to plant some 60-day beets and see what happens. In the shadiest bed, I'll plant lettuce as the summer cools off.

So thanks to folks who commented on my last post. This is an experiment and we'll see what happens.