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Garden Diary 2/12/2018: Better Health and a New Garden Plan

So my last post was terribly depressing. My health was so bad then that I was going to give up on gardening completely. Since then, my health has much improved, thanks to medication and a regimen of handfuls of vitamins and supplements every day. With warm weather hereat last, I'm feeling much better about my gardening.

I lost a lot in the freezes, so the last couple of days I've been clearing out
and disposing of a lot of the dead plants and cutting back ones that were damaged, but will come back. I said I wasn't going to bring any plants in during the cold, but of course, I did, and those will be that backbone for part of my new plan -- more on that later.

The Permaculture Experiment and A Big Project Whose Time Has Come

When I first started my permaculture experiment in my tiny garden, I talked about needing something to block the sun from entering a south-facing window in my LR, where I spend most of my time. I love the light, but hate the heat it creates, so I end up keeping my blinds drawn most of the summer.

At the time, I posted to the Reddit permaculture forum, and we discussed ways I could build a trellis there and layer plants in front of if and behind it to take advantage of the sun and shade. So this is the year I'm going to do that.

I'll be posting pictures later. I'm working on a Sketch-Up of it, but basically, my window is 8 ft. wide (did I say it's a BIG window?), and the top is about 7'10" off the ground. There is a 4.5' concrete porch in front of it, and I intend to extend that 2' with paving blocks. Right now, the pathway into the courtyard is within that area, so I'll have to reconfigure that to put it at the western end of the porch.

I'll build the trellis 6 feet tall (so I can reach to harvest the top), which still won't reach to the top of the window, but I will use a window valance curtain to block the top sun.

Behind the bean screen, I'll put pots of shade-loving herbs, flowers and some of my tropicals on a bench built on the 2' porch extension. I can use that bench also for starting seeds and cuttings, and put shade-loving plants underneath it.

In front of the trellis (south facing) will be some sun-loving herbs & flowers in a raised bed.

I figure if I do this the "cheap" way for now, with just some 2x4s and strong wire across the top and bottom to tie nylon cord to, I can build my trellis for around $20. As I can afford it, I can add more permanent wire trellising material, but right now, it's got to be as cheap as possible. I already have my herb and flower seeds.

This will also allow me to sit out on the porch more in the summer, which I do love to do, but it's just too hot out there with the southern sun beating down on the porch.

Loss of Shade from the Freezes

I lost a lot of shade from the freezes. My tropical hibiscus, which provided shade for the gingers and wandering jews planted under them are dead. I'm not sure if they will come back from the bottom or not, but right now, I can see no green except at the very bottom of the trunks. To protect those plants from dying of sun scorch, I'm going to have to plant some fast-growing plants to climb up the dead branches. I have morning glory & cypress vine seeds, and both of those grow pretty quickly, so I'll put those into the ground soon. I also have hyacinth vine, but I think that's too heavy for the spindly dead branches. 

I'm telling you, Mother Nature sure throws you some hardballs sometimes, doesn't she? But like my father told me long ago, "Things always turn out the way they're supposed to."

Happy Gardening!