Gardens can grow anywhere!!!

{Gardening in Branson, Missouri}

I am very inspired to share with everyone the progress of our garden here in Branson, Missouri... Yes, I'm back in Branson with my loving life partner Carlos! We arrived a couple weeks ago from San Diego and are living with my parents in their little Bee Creek apartment. I haven't seen too many bees yet, but that's what they call it. :) Our space is limited here, but we intend to use every inch of space we can to grow many diverse plants including enough produce to stuff ourselves this summer and fall!

The first step to starting a garden in our apartment complex was talking to maintenance guys and the gals in the office. My dad took care of that business, since he and my mom are the ones on the lease. It's great to have a good relationship with these people and be open about your intentions and the general day to day of the place you are living so you can help eachother and develop a sense of community. My dad was already on good terms with Hugh, the head maintenance guy. When he spoke with the office, the ladies there said as long as it's cool with Hugh, it's cool with them and we just have to keep it neat. Hugh doesn't do the landscaping himself, but he hires the people that do. Next my dad talked to Hugh about it and he told him he doesn't mind at all, as long as the maintenance and landscaping folks don't have to work on it and we handle all the plants ourselves. His other criteria was that we keep it weeded and nice looking. Easy peasy! We got the okay so I came out last year and got started.

We are living in the Missouri Ozarks and they are quite hilly and rocky. They call this topography "karst", topsoil that sits on layers of limestone. It's a very beautiful place, incredibly scenic, green, and teaming with life. The problem lies with the present day methods that industry uses in developing land - they blow off the hilltops to create a flat surface to build on, quick and easy. So all of the topsoil is gone and you're left with rock to plant your crops in. It makes for a very difficult soil to dig in. Lucky for me, I haven't been into digging for years! This saved me from many aches and pains I'm sure. I much prefer building up the soil rather than altering what is already there. Some folks call this "no-till gardening" or "lasagna gardening," referring to laying compost or manure and newspaper, cardboard, etc. Others refer to as "raised beds". Refer to this post for more detailed directions: http://ddtheadventurer.blogspot.com/2010/07/raised-no-till-garden.html

My friend Stephen and I took his truck to a horse ranch in the country and picked up a truckload of manure for a few bucks and got to work. We borrowed a wheelbarrow from a neighbor and hauled the manure from his truck in the parking to the corner of the building we live in and set up our garden bed! The next day I lined it with beautiful limestone rocks from the side of the hill and voila!

Most of the plants pictured here are the leftovers and volunteers from last year. There are three landscaping plants that were there already, the bush by the window and two chunks of grass. I am tempted to remove them and use them as mulch, but in keeping that good relationship with the apartment folks I haven't done it yet. :) In the front there is a massive clump of spearmint that I planted last spring from a tiny started and it got wild. Next to the mint is a big parsley that is going to seed, also planted last spring. There are lettuces that I planted last fall and they made it through the winter and are taking off now in the spring. That's a lettuce in the bottom left corner too! In the back left is our carrot and radish section, just planted seeds a week ago and seeing random sprouts.. not sure what they are yet. 

 Last year Carlos and I spent three weeks on a farm in the tiny town of Foil, Missouri. It's a few hours northeast of us in Branson, the closest populated town with stores and such is Ava. If you ever make it to Ava, check out the local drugstore - they sell a scoop of ice cream for 5 cents! No joke. The farm we stayed at is our friend Pearl's little homestead, a beautiful place where we learned lots about native plants, simple gardening techniques, milking goats, and slaughtering chickens! It was incredible. We left with some native Elderberry bushes and Wild Cherry trees and when we got back to Branson we stuck them all in our garden to overwinter. Now that it's Spring they are taking off and must be moved somewhere before the grow huge and take over. We are leaving this one Elderberry bush, pictured left. The rest of these amazing plants are being moved to their new home in the forest.

Wild Cherry Tree with our Winter Wheat and Rye Grass

This is our patio garden! :) The hanging planters were given to us by our upstairs neighbor Susan. She's such a sweetheart. She also gave us that tiny little wooden chair in the bottom right corner. It's holding our pot of oregano, with two brand new baby sprouts!
Left: Chives and Mint; Right: Cress; Center: More Mint
Lots of BABIES!! Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, kale, etc...

Flowers - A California Poppy, Blue Hyssop, and Dwarf Morning Glory and Kale on the left
Little Basil Sprouts! I love the curvy leaves, so cute.

I decided to set up a second garden bed since we have so much growing and there was plenty of space next to the first bed. This time we didn't have a truck to pick up manure and my mom wasn't keen on the idea of throwing poo in the back of her trailblazer...

So we talked mom into letting us put the manure in bucket and trash cans and transported it that way!

The buckets for poo!
Woodland Nicotiana, a ceremonial smoking tobacco with beautiful flowers.

Aztec Marigolds - they're LOVING this hot Spring

It's amazing how many plants we can fit onto a patio and just the corner of our apartment building. Hopefully we can find a place for everyone when it's time to transplant! I'm sure we can make it happen. I will make updates as the season progresses.

Happy planting!!!
Love. Peace. Growth. 

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