Monday, May 2, 2011

Prepping the Garden

It occurs to me that I should mention that we tied the knot. 
We were married on the 5 year anniversary of our first date, in February. Sentimental and one less date for Bri to forget remember - win-win.

And now back to what the title implies this post is about - growing things (or at least endeavors in such):

Fantastic friends of ours were in town visiting family for a week last month. They live on a farm in Maine (yes I'm envious, but that is not the point of this post) so we don't see them often and as soon as we found out they were coming we invited them over for dinner. They said yes, but only if we let them help with something involving dirt. See why we love them? 

When we put in the raised beds we brought in soil - a 50/50 mix of compost and topsoil. It turned out okay, but it is not as rich as we'd like and it is quite sandy, so before planting for spring we decided to amend it. Since we need to amend all of them, and since we've only had the compost bins going just about a year, we bought amendments. 

If you are thinking that my gardening habit is looking expensive, so far you'd be right. Please don't let that dissuade you; it can be really inexpensive. Bri and I are trying to get stuff set up and established ASAP, and are willing to throw some money at it to help us along at this point, while we are both still working. Anywayyyy...

This was the garden pre-workday. 
The borage was out. of. control., the radish, arugula, and cilantro had bolted, and the earwigs had set up house in the lettuce (have I mentioned how much I do NOT love earwigs right now? Yes? Oh, well, just in case it was not clear)..

We have 13 raised beds total. I ended up leaving two mostly alone, since there was still good stuff growing; we'll amend those two when we pull out those crops, so on the work day we did 11 beds.

Left alone bed #1: kale and swiss chard. 
I pulled the cilantro that had bolted (that fluffy looking brownish stuff), but left the rest.

Left alone bed #2: green and purple cabbages. 
I'm really glad I left these in, as they are heading up beautifully despite the slugs and earwigs (have I mentioned how much I do NOT love earwigs right now? Yes? Oh, well, just in case it was not clear).

Amendments staged for use. 
Each bed got one bag each peat moss, steer manure, and chicken manure. 
Confession: we got the peat moss at Walmart (the hippy in me is weeping). It was the only place we could find un-"enriched" peat moss - because no, I do not want miracle grow in the peat moss, thankyouverymuch. Also, we looked for coconut coir, but just could not find it available in quantity at a price that we could justify. I take consolation in that this claims to be sustainably harvested.  

Step 1: Weed the beds and pull out the spend crops. 
This bed has an onion that had sprouted in the compost bin from an end I threw out. Bri found it and I stuck it in the garden to see what would happen a couple months ago. It grew, so we worked around it. In another bed we worked around a row of garlic that had also been transplanted from the compost bins.

Step 2: Add one bag each of the amendments.

Step 3: Manually turn the soil.
We tried just tilling in the amendments, but found the tiller did not get down far enough to incorporate them into the soil sufficiently, so we ended up turning the soil onto the new stuff by hand. Well not by hand, we used shovels of course. It was a good workout.
Steps 4 & 5: Till and rake. 
We borrowed our neighbor's small tiller to do this job. I am learning more and more to appreciate our community resources - something I shall expand on in a future post. 

(Aside: because I am not sure that the steer manure is was fully composted we did this a couple weeks ago and have let them just hang out for a bit while we grow our seedlings. I do have a volunteer squash of some sort that has come up in one, so I'm taking that as a good sign.)

Then we all went inside and had beer and wine and cheese and fruit and homemade pizza. And lemon-ginger pound cake with strawberries for dessert.

Then later I made out with my husband, because I can. 
This whole journey is so much more fun with him.


Tanya Murray said...

I can't help but admire you. You always have so much going on and you are so more "together" than I was at your age.
Don't forget that you may be able to horse manure free from your local stables. They are only too happy to get rid of it and it is usually clear of weed seeds as these horses are fed very good diets rather than the paddock versions. I know you are building your flock up again and production is a bit small at the moment, but one of the other things that Craig does to enrich the garden beds is to periodically take a couple of shovels of dirt from the hen yard as all our scraps and weeds etc go in there. Whatever the girls don't eat and poop, they scratch over and dig in, composting the whole very quickly.
I really love your orchard out the front too and can't wait to see it in a few years.

Unknown said...

You know I love gardening, but only when you do it. I love beer and wine and cheese and pizza and cake and strawberries especially at YOUR house. I REALLY love that you love your hubby. (making out is a lost art that needs to be revived in our married world)
Mostly I love your writing style, it makes me laugh. It's especially talented because I really can "hear" your voice.
You are one amazing woman, LB!

Unknown said...

OH, since your post WAS about gardening, I feel compelled to say...NICE garden!

Lily Girl said...

Tanya - thank you for your words of encouragement! I certainly do not feel like I have it together most of the time :) I have thought about horse manure before - we have a pretty large horse community the next town over. The only challenge with it for us is that it needs to be composted before using and at the moment we are pressed to find enough space for composting just the waste created in our own yard. We add all the poultry bedding to the compost piles when we clean it out, but because their runs is on a concrete slab it doesn't start to break down like it would if it was on soil. Space - its always about space! :)

Rach - and I love you!

Unknown said...

Lily -

#1 I always remembered our first date (2/3/06 ... also 2x3=6), just like I remember the day I flew home from Europe and asked you to be my girlfriend (7/19/06), and your birthday (10/8/83 ... also a radio code).

#2 I love kissing you :o)

#3 Tanya, unfortunately our birds are on pine shavings on concrete. However, we've taken the bedding from their coop and made compost tea to give the trees and seed starts. Hopefully when we have more birds, there will be plenty to add to the beds each time we prepare for the next crop. Thanks for the idea!


Unknown said...

Keep loving that lady of yours Bri...she is one in a million. YOU also, are quite a guy. :)