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We'll, about that garden...It used to be the backyard. Now, it's pretty much a mess. For three years I tried (valiantly, I thought) to grow vegetables in raised beds that I constructed from eighteen 10' long window shutters that I salvaged from a house remodel.

In central Mississippi, we have a calcium bentonite clay soil, which - in addition to being like cement when it's dry, and slimey when it's wet - contains very little organic matter. The first year I composted all the beds, because I couldn't afford to buy either fill dirt (which would have been crappy anyway; not enough organic matter either) nor could I afford to buy bags of what is laughingly called "garden soil". It's almost as crappy as fill dirt. Every bit of vegetable kitchen trimmings went in. I got my neighbors to dump their grass clippings in a heap just inside my fence. I stole bags of leaves from neighbors I didn't know who had someone else do their yard work. Wonder what they thought about their bags of leaves just disappearing two days before the garbage truck came by...?

After a year, I had some nice humus, with some of the local soil mixed in for minerals. So far, so good.

Please follow below the curleyswirley...

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I devised wonderful (but cheap) irrigation systems for six beds. No timers or anything - just move the garden hose from connector to connector on each bed. Hook the hose up, and let it drizzle through the (hand-pierced) soaker hoses for as long as whatever is in the bed needs - melons need a good bit, other plants should be nearly dry before you give them a really good drenching. I even planted my corn/beans/squash the way my grandfather and great-grandfather did - all three in single hills.

But after three years of trying, I have given up. I have a little herb garden and some cherry tomatoes (all in pots) but my backyard is not the place to try and grow much of anything.

And that is basically because about half of the total area of the garden doesn't get enough light. Although I love my trees, I wish they were in slightly different locations. Can't do much about that, 'cause they are big...I need eight hours of full sun, and only about half the garden gets that.

And dammit, the house is in the way. Faces south, and blocks out lots of late morning/midday summer sun. (I should put in solar panels...it's perfectly situated for that. But since we are one of only six states that doesn't have net metering, going completely off-grid in an urban setting is still waaay beyond my affordability level. Screw you, Entergy.) Well, can't move the house either.

So...the other, and what I consider much bigger problem. I did not use any chemicals in my garden. None.

But the second year I started noticing there weren't many bugs. Not even the bad kind. Very few bees either. Now this year there are hardly any bugs, even with our eerily early spring. And there are no toads. No geckos nocturnal or diurnal. I have seen two anoles, both male. Two years ago I had toads everywhere. Hell, I built toad houses for them, and some of the toads even had names...

Not this year. And it is definitely warm enough already. I wonder what is wrong...but I think I know. All that mosquito-spraying the neighborhood does has simply killed everything. Except the mosquitos...

So, I'm giving up, at least at this location. I'll do plants in containers, and hand-pollinate if I have to...

But in honor of gardens, here's Peteand Arlo... still two of my heroes!

And I tend to agree with Arlo's "alternative verses" right now!!!   :-)

Kudos to all out there who can get a garden going.

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