Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let's Talk about Mixing Soils

Let's just say... the first year you "really" garden somewhere that you plan to be permanently gardening... it's a lot of work. Work I am willing to do -- don't get me wrong -- but whew! A wee bit more work than I had really intended. As with most projects, it's been a learning experience.

Last night I combined the 5 secret* ingredients for my garden boxes. I started out dumping the 5 of the 7 bags intended for one box onto a blue tarp; I still had 2 bags of compost that were supposed to go in too -- but eeka I already had quite a heap going. Well, the blue tarp tore, and... follow? Okay, so for the next three boxes I mixed the soil in batches in the wheelbarrow! (My very fun, very happy tangerine orange wheelbarrow, thankyouverymuch!) That method worked much better.

And as it turns out, I couldn't make all 7 bags fit into each box; I got all but 1+ bags of compost in there though. And so now I have a lot of compost left for my other beds, which is fine.

I also put down the weed stop fabric on the paths (ran out, need to get another roll.) I haven't decided what the path material will be yet. But that isn't urgent.

Next step is to mark the 12" grids and plant! I hope to do that Thursday night. Yahoo!!

* Not so secret:
1.5 bags Living Earth Organic Compost
1 bag Living Earth Soil Blends
1 bag Living Earth Top Soil with Compost
1 bag Soil Mender Soil Mixsoil
1 bag Back to Earth Composted Cattle Manure (shant think about that too much)
1/4 bag Redenta's Organic Bed Prep

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Really? Me?

In the last week or so, three different people have told me that I inspire them. That's amazing to me -- and so humbling! All I am doing is digging in the dirt... but I hope that I do motivate others to re-connect to gardening; that would be awesome.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Garden Boxes are In!

Last night I assembled my garden boxes! As you know, this has been a long time in coming, and I am not the most patient person in your circle of friends. I had ordered the metal corners from Gardener's Supply, and I had already cut my cedar planks to size. I felt like I was pretty much ready to go.

The assembly was straight forward enough; you slide the planks into the slots and put in the screws (provided) to hold them in place, and then tap in the corner toppers. Except that the cedar planks were about 1/4" wider than the slots they were supposed to sashay into. I got creative and used my framing hammer to soften the hard pointy edges of the boards into a more rounded shape that could slide (there was no sliding -- it was more of a forcing action) into the slots. Once again, a rubber mallet was a life saver. I felt sort of badly for my next door neighbor who was working from home... and hoped that she didn't have any conference calls going on.

The box corners are not all tidy 90 degree angles because of the plank issue, but they look good.

Placing them was the next issue; turns out my plot wasn't "quite" 10' x 10', so my perimeter paths aren't as wide as I wanted them. Partly that is my fault because I failed to take into account the plank width in doing my calculations, which means I lost 8 inches. So I kept the 2' wide foot path down the center, and I'll have to dig out some more around the edge. I think I probably would have ended up doing that anyway though, because the 1 foot I had alotted isn't wide enough; it needs to be 2. Lesson learned. (I hope that my vegetables grow so huge that even with a 2 foot path I'll be pushed off the path!) I have some weed-stop fabric for the footpath and then probably some pea gravel will go on top.

I have the dirt and related goodies for each box stacked by each box. I think the bags look larger than what each box will hold, but that's the "recipe" from my organic garden place for each box. They haven't lead me astray yet, so I trust them. Tonight I plan to mix the dirt and mark the grids on my boxes. We are have a chance of rain tomorrow (plus it's date night) so if all goes well, I should be planting seeds Thursday night after work.

The bed you see in the background with the curved edge will be my herb bed...

I don't have to tell you I am happy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Plan was to Garden, But --

In Dallas on Friday, it was a balmy 74 degrees. Beautiful sunny day -- I drove to and from work with the convertible top down. I had an entire weekend of gardening planned.

Then the weather guys started saying things like, "cold front," "wintry mix," and "gusty winds." While my neighbors across the street had a front yard picnic, I dutifully covered my freshly planted herb plants with burlap. "What are you doing over there?" my neighbors shouted. "Preparing for the storm," I replied. I walked across the street to chat. Rolled my eyes about overly dramatic weathermen, expressed my doubt, but said I couldn't take any chances with my recent financial investment and labor from the week before.

Friday night we had the type of rains where you contemplate building an ark. Still, it was only rain. Sunday morning I opened my curtains, and this is what I saw! I was SHOCKED. I mean -- SHOCKED!

Greta bounded out into the yard gleefully, the first time. The second time I opened the back door for her, she stood firmly planted INSIDE and just looked out. And then backed up. Yep, that's my girl.

I built a fire even before I brewed coffee. And I kept that fire burning until I went to bed. Ironically, I had added a lot of green wood to my fire wood rack last week -- on top. Never dreamt I would need to get to the seasoned wood again this year. Remember the game, "Pixie Sticks?" (Or was it just Pick Up Sticks?) Regardless, that's the game I played multiple times yesterday in front of the wood rack. Carefully wiggling logs back and forth to ease them out of the middle of the stack without the whole thing tumbling down. I'm not going to lie - it was strategic. But I was desperate. In my (wet) socks and flip flops.

Today it's blue skies and sun. The snow is gone, and I wore a short sleeved dress and sandals to work. I suspect I will drive home with the convertible top down -- it's supposed to be 66 today, and 75 tomorrow. Ah yes. Welcome to Texas.