Thursday, October 20, 2011

Planting Time

In the Phoenix area, planting a garden in the spring is a fruitless enterprise - literally.  Tomatoes and peppers, for instance, won't set fruit when the temperature is too high, which generally means any time between May and September here.  Many local gardeners, therefore, consider fall the high season for planting.  Today I had to drive to Scottsdale for my semi-annual dental appointment, so I stopped on the way back at my favorite nursery to buy a couple of flats of herbs and vegetables.

As I've mentioned before, my mother always had a large garden when I was a child, and I've continued the tradition whenever I've lived in a house with a yard.  Even in New York City I had a small herb and flower garden outside my first (garden-level) apartment, and a pot of chives in later, higher living spaces.  My irrigated pots at our previous house here were finally putting out clusters of assorted chile peppers and overflowing with oregano and thyme just when I had to leave them behind.  Of course I moved into this house at the end of July, when planting anything would have been insane, even if I hadn't been fully occupied with work on the interior of the house.  So, I was happy when the hot weather finally broke this month and I could start to think about gardening again.

Fortunately, this house has irrigated planting beds that are just begging for new foliage.  The one by the front stoop is empty except for a single forlorn cactus and the one to the left of the back porch has been overrun by useless and not very attractive myaporum that I intend to uproot tomorrow.  This gives me plenty of room for roses in front and herb and vegetable plantings in back of the house.

Today I bought a couple of tomato plants (a mainstream Better Boy and a multicolored heirloom), a mini red bell pepper, a hot red pepper plant, salad greens, Swiss chard, oregano, parsley, chives, basil, thyme, cilantro, a small bay tree, and lavender.  I intend to start them in pots in the screened back porch and transplant them to the planting beds when they are a little larger and can better withstand the onslaught of the hungry local rabbits.  (The jackrabbits here are large enough to leap rabbit wire with a single bound.)  I also got geraniums and petunias for pots on the front stoop; let's hope the bunnies here aren't hungry enough to eat them despite the strong smell.

As soon as I've planted all this stuff I'll go back for the roses - but that may be a couple of days from now because one of the local Greek Orthodox churches is having its annual Greekfest this weekend, and I may be too busy chowing down souvlaki and baklava to worry about gardening.

"I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden."  ~Abraham Cowley, The Garden, 1666

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