Yesterday morning I wandered outside to turn on the irrigation system for my little garden and discovered a new resident. I found her by sticking my face into her web while trying to evaluate the state of the cucumbers. Given her enormous size and vibrant colouring, I can only attribute my obliviousness to the fact that I was as yet uncaffeinated. I have named her Lenore. My husband, however, says her name is Annabelle Lee. My son insists she be called Ytminish. The spider holds her tongue, which is admittedly the wisest course of action. I present her here today in the hopes that she and Darro's friend, Sylvia, can appreciate each other and possibly set up an email correspondence.
I am also posting some long overdue pics of my garden. It is a tiered rock thing just behind the house, though due to my particular gardening style, I'm afraid the rock walls are not really visible in the pictures. I have been working, these last five years, on developing the ultimate lazy gardener technique. This is partly because I cannot comfortably go out to weed and maintain a garden during the day once the light and heat of summer hits. It is also partly because I have better things to do than garden maintenance (like stare at the ceiling).
The technique, as it currently stands, is based upon just a few principles: close planting, co-planting, and ease of watering. So in spring, I set out an assortment of plants, of both the flowering and vegetable-producing varieties (I do not support segregation). They were planted close enough together to keep weeds to a minimum (weeds must have light to grow, so the less ground exposed to the sun, the better). A second advantage of this technique is that it removes the necessity to stake tomates, as they lean on each other and hold one another up. The only effort here was in fencing off the catnip (I share my home with five cats who do not understand the concept of "delayed gratification"). My son wishes it noted that I stole his favourite stick/spear as one of the stakes around which I wrapped the chicken wire. I contend that I couldn't tell it was special, amongst the enormous pile of sticks he had accumulated by the back door. I have promised ( as I have for two months now) to replace it with something more acceptable. Now if he will please stop reading over my shoulder. Hrem.
Second, as to co-planting. Some plants just like to grow together, and some plants like to keep Bad Bugs away (they are in league with Lenore). So the tomatoes are interspersed with basil, and the squash happily coexists in a miasma of marigold haze. Thus far the only issue we have has is some exotic little bug with a domed back and cottony butt that likes to suck the sap out of everything. Fortunately a combined effort of bug smooshing, extra watering, and heavy fertilization seems to have helped everything outlast the life cycle of whatever-the-hell they were.
Oh, and to fertilizing. I have a worm composter in my bathroom. Takes care of most of the food scraps, and the plants thrive on the results. Once again, minimal effort (and a wonderful thing to display to unwanted guests).
Finally, irrigation. This is the most labour-intensive part of my efforts, taking a full afternoon's effort (and one hell of a lot of beer). The slow-drop and soaker hoses were carefully threaded among all the little plantlings and staked in place. Well worth it, though, as my watering now consists of turning one nozzle on for twenty minutes a day. Next year I want to experiment with a rain barrel hooked up to the hose system. And newspaper in the few gaps between the plants, as there are a few stalwart weeds which have managed to circumvent my measures (and they can stay there, for all I care). Overall, though, I feel I am getting close to a truly maintenance free garden. The only problem is that the plants are thriving so well I'm afraid they're going to take over the walk!