Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Plans for the Porch Garden

I dropped off my seed order at the Lebanon Coop on Thursday, all in a rush to get to a meeting. I ended up being 20 minutes late to the meeting, so I suppose that there was really no point in rushing. So, I didn't really think too much about my seed order at that time or since then.

But then we had friends up this weekend and started talking about food and gardening and turning the houses we've bought into our homes... and I started thinking about the new crops and flowers that I am going to plant in a few short weeks or months.

I'd like to share some of my ideas and enthusiasm for the upcoming growing season now, because I have the time and the two feet of snow we received this week has made my garden seem like a blank slate. Really, the possibilities are endless, and I'm newly inspired from reading Frances Mayes' memoir "Under the Tuscan Sun" and her experiences cultivating their farm and shopping at the markets in the town. (A side note - the book is nothing like the movie of the same name, although both are worth experiencing.) Wow, what could be better than having an ancient farm with olives, grapes, fruit trees, herbs and a patio with an amazing view to the valleys below?!

While not so spectacular as having fresh figs from your own tree, I'm really excited about trellising vines on the front of the house. now named the Porch Garden. When we were looking to buy our house, the 4-season porch on the front of the house was completely obscured by awful, overgrown arbor vitae. Fortunately, those trees had to be torn out before we moved in, as the septic system needed to be replaced and the arbor vitae roots were in the way of the new leach field. Since then, we have tried something new every year for the front of the house - we planted spiraea and potentilla/cinquefoil, then peas and alpine strawberries between the shrubs, then moved the shrubs and planted tomatoes, asparagus and basil. I still haven't got it quite right... but this is what I'd like to try this year -

Kentucky Wonder pole beans (white flowers), scarlet runner beans (red flowers) and canary creeper (yellow flowers) growing their way up trellises attached to the front of the house. The scarlet flowers of the runner beans are supposed to attract hummingbirds, which would be great... and the vines should help to absorb some of the heat load that overwhelms our front porch. Last fall, we planted two grape vines on either side of the porch steps on the side of the house, for the same solar-heat-gain-reducing purpose. The grape vines will get their own free-standing trellis and will hopefully shade our house and give us some tasty Concord grapes in a few years.

I cannot confess to having come up with this idea all by myself - the grape vine trick we learned from our neighbors Iain and Christine across the park who wanted the grapevines to give them a little privacy from the street. I'm very encouraged by the vigor of their grape vines, which grow profusely each summer. The privacy screening does work quite well, but their beautiful gardens do make me peer more often into their yard. The scarlet runner beans and canary creeper suggestion comes straight from the Fedco magazine. While vibrant green leaves are beautiful, it would be nice to have some primary-color contrast (and more hummingbirds!)

Stay tuned for more plans for the 2011 garden...

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