This photo of our raised veggie bed was taken in mid May. In late April, Mike picked up a load of 50-50 topsoil / organic compost from a local place. Meanwhile, Central Kentucky experienced the wettest April on record. When Mike loaded the soil into the new raised beds, it smelled to high heaven. I was really concerned and even gave the folks a call. I was afraid we had received uncomposted horse manure and I wasn't sure I should plant. Horse manure is excellent for a garden but it must be well composted. I was assured that there was no manure in our compost and it was ready to plant.
Here it is as of yesterday. Unfortunately, in six weeks time there has been very little growth and blooms wither almost immediately, instead of setting fruit. I don't think we were intentionally given hot compost but I do think we got soil that was not ready for use. Next time I will listen to my inner voice and trust my instincts.
When I brought my plants home from Wilson's Nursery in mid May, they were healthy and beautiful and the smell had subsided from the bed. I remember thinking that maybe it had just been too wet. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I got the plants in the ground the same afternoon. I noticed the soil had quite a bit of clay clods and a hardpack had formed on the top. I stripped off the hardpack and watered everything really well.
This photo is of a tomato plant I planted in my own compost (taken today).
And this is a tomato plant planted at the same time, in the topsoil/compost blend I purchased locally.
I knew it was the soil that was the problem because I planted directly in the ground last summer in this same location and despite the severe drought and my sporadic watering, I still got a good harvest. I needed a rescue plan...it was time for PLAN B.
With the growth of two trees which were saplings when we moved here, much of the sunny spaces in our back garden are now shady spaces. I had to get creative. In the end, I removed one each of the acorn and zucchini squash plants, three tomatoes, and three peppers and put them here, on the edge of the perennial bed. I'm calling this the "potager."
In the raised bed, I removed the rest of the plants and dug nice sized planting holes which I filled with organic top soil Mike purchased in a hurry from Home Depot. (Remember...this is a rescue plan!)
My neighbor told me that the problem with "hot" compost is that it leaches the water from the soil. He thinks my rescue plan might work and advised me to overwater. So that's what I am doing. Only time will tell.
This is gardening. There are no guarantees. Things change...a tree matures and a sun garden becomes a shade garden. Or an ice storm takes down a tree and a shade garden becomes a sun garden. Some years we get drought, some years we get flood. Some years we get both. Sometimes, we get hot compost. It's just how it is. That's gardening. That's life. We need to find a way to get ok with a Plan B. If we want to feel peaceful, that is.
Sometimes Plan B can turn out to be what some people call a "blessing in disguise." I really love the new potager. That area of my garden needed something and I didn't know what. I've tried different things but who knew tomatoes and peppers would be just the ticket! And the zuchinni that I was going to try to grow vertical (which apparently is not easy) now has plenty of room to spread out...both in the potager and in the raised bed. And I've learned a lot about the science of soil which will make me a better gardener.
I may have a diminished and / or late harverst this year but I feel confident I WILL have a harvest.
Elsewhere around the garden, things are going really well. While I was rummaging in the shed, I found this old french faucet I forgot I had.
The basil I started from seed and transplanted to a tub in the perennial bed is doing great. That's purple spider wort behind it. I pulled that out a few years ago because it drove me crazy. It was always flopping over. But a sprig of it remained and it is quite large again. But now, the tub holds it upright. Everyone is happy.
The coneflowers are ready to bloom...
There are a few tomatoes on the vine....
Little c and I planted these begonias in a vintage French wire egg basket for our outdoor dining table. She brought them home from church on Mother's Day.
The ross moss is my favorite in the window boxes this year. So lovely.
And there is even more basil in a pot by the French aviary, a nice sunny spot. I really love basil. Just have to keep it out of pecking distance. Chickens love basil too.
How is your garden growing? Am I the only one on Plan B?