Tuesday, June 2, 2009

49 - Answers

Q: Karyn Graves - Whatcha planting? Why is it so hard to grow vegetables? Are more people starting gardens this year because of the economy?
A: When I bought my house there were bare patches along the back of the garage, both sides and behind the kitchen under my famous "door to nowhere". As last summer and fall progressed grass began to take over the areas. I was unhappy with how it looked so this spring I decided I wanted to do some landscaping. I had a one-week window the week before Memorial Day when I had no travel for work so I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the project.

I chose the area behind my garage as the test bed. I dug up the dirt, mixed in some topsoil, and then planted two Caradonna Meadow Sage, four Highlander Red Rockfoil, and a single Barbarini F1 White Sweet William. I covered the whole thing with red mulch to finish it off. The results can be seen below.

I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to tackle the rest of it while I had the chance. I spent a couple days digging up the grass on the east and rear of my house and bought more topsoil and mulch. Then on Memorial Day Bill, Lisa, Lynn and Pepper came to help me finish the project (and many thanks to them for the help, without which I might still be out there planting). We started along the east side. I planted two Butterfly Blue Pincushion Flower, two Beardtongue Red Rocks.

As I did those Bill planted the Rhododendron and began spreading mulch.

In addition I bought two Wintercreeper Emerald Gaiety shrubs for the light pole in front of my house. Bill, having much more landscaping experience than me, was nice enough to plant those for me.

While he did that I spread more mulch and planted some pachysandra, specifically Japanese Spurge, along the rear.

Again, thanks to the entire Jeffers family for their help with this project.

Getting to your other questions, I'm not sure why it's hard to grow vegetables. I think that it's primarily because they require a lot of care in the form of watering, weeding, and fertilizing, not to mention keeping them safe from friendly woodland creatures looking for a snack. In addition there are soil considerations, and also the issue of how much space you have to dedicate to the garden. In short, it takes a lot of time and effort to grow vegetables, which is probably why it's so hard.

My own experience with growing vegetables isn't that glamorous. While living in my townhouse a couple years ago I tried to grow tomatoes in long planters. To make a long and boring story short, I wound up with some small, feeble looking tomatoes that were actually pretty tasty, but they didn't seem worth the trouble I put into the project, which is why I didn't do it again the next year.

With respect to the economy, I can tell you that I know people who are planting gardens this year to save some money on groceries. Does it actually save money? According to this article you can save approximately 7% a year on your grocery budget with a fairly modest garden. Is this worth the effort it takes? That depends on the person. There is a certain satisfaction derived from growing your own food, and I think that weighs into the decision. I can tell you that if and when I get more time I will dedicate some more energy to gardening in my backyard, both for economic and for satisfaction reasons.

Q: Eric Democko - if i upgrade the HD in my macbook, is it worth buying leopard or should i just use my tiger disks that came with it?
A: I bought Leopard a couple months after it came out and have been very happy with that decision. There are a large number of improvements to the OS and the built-in applications. I like Spaces (multiple desktops), and also the Dock improvements. Overall I think it's worth buying. The only thing that stops me from telling you to run out and get it is Snow Leopard, which is the next update coming. I'm not sure if it's going to be a free upgrade or not. If they're going to charge for it then I'd say just reformat with Tiger and buy Snow Leopard when it comes out. If it'll be free then run out and buy Leopard.