Monday, May 21, 2012

Finally -- Ready for Planting!

My newly expanded front beds are ready for planting!  That was my number one goal for this weekend - and despite a rather reduced weekend time frame, Red and I got it done on Sunday.  Yay!!

Friday night we stayed up much much too late - and Saturday morning we set the alarm for 6 to be at Living Earth Technologies by the time they opened at 7:30 a.m.  Translation:  Great efforts were made to be there before a line formed (fail) and to get a jump start on supplies for the beds.  (Fail.)  I had called LIT on Friday about pricing for bagged compost and mulch.  The lady was very patient, giving me tons of prices, and very informative about what the types were.  Unfortunately, she failed to mention that they were sold out of all bagged product.  Yes - we got up early, drove, waited in line, only to be turned away.  I was unhappy.  Okay, I was really grumpy.  Should I have asked if they had it in stock?  Perhaps.  But in my defense, their website said it was available, and well -- if I were answering the phones, looking out the window at the supply yard -- I would have mentioned that the item the customer was inquiring about wasn't currently available.  But hey - that's just me.  I obviously do not work there.  : )

Anyway -- I did some competitor supplier research, and Sunday morning Red met me at Redenta's with his truck.  Redenta's carries the LIT products that I wanted to buy.  Now the prices are a little higher per bag, but I get a 10% neighborhood discount and if you buy more than 20 bags, the price drops $1 per bag.  And it's less than 2 miles from my house, not 12.  So in the spirit of really wanting to finish the project, and continuing my efforts to support local, independent businesses, I was happy enough to buy what I needed there.  And, they were able to sell me some soil amendments to fix my alkaline soil issue.  And so 32 bags later...

Soil Amendments

Almost immediately after unloading the truck we went to get lunch.  : )  (I have a bad habit of getting caught up in projects on Sundays and not eating.  Thank you to Red for reminding me that food really should be a priority - especially with the amount of labor we were facing...)

We tilled.  We sprinkled.  We raked.  We bagged. We tilled again.  We hoisted bags, emptied bags,trimmed trees and shrubs  We located elusive sprinkler heads (without damaging any!)  And, we did not encounter any snakes.  And finally, we mulched extensively.

I don't know how many hours that took... but it was several.  Then I edged and mowed... and...

Here's the left side:

It's difficult to see in this photo, and once again I neglected to take before and after photos, but I "raised the canopy" on that row of shrubs.  I also did sort of a poor pruning job on that big rosemary bush...

And then here is the right side:

I've since decided that I need to put the dark mulch around the tree base as well. I was going to leave it as is, but... no.

It's hard to describe how liberating it was to finally till and weed the back part of this bed.  I'd been wanting to spiff up this bed for many months, but I knew that there were lots of pieces and parts to the project and that it would require substantial time.  But it feels so. much. better.  And the trees and shrubs will be so. much. happier. with the soil around them aerated and fertilized!  There is still some hard work on this side remaining:  I have a couple of sprinkler heads that need to be unearthed (see those 2 red flags?) -- they are both almost a foot below dirt level!  And I still have the leak in the outdoor spigot pipe - that's under the window there.  And, some labor but a fun end result -- I need to dig a hole for the water resevoir for my fountain!  It will go somewhere in this bed.  Okay, so I bought the fountain in OCTOBER.  But I have changed my mind several times about where I want it -- backyard, frontyard, etc. -- so it's probably good that I didn't put it in place immediately!  (Queen of Rationalization Crown firmly affixed.)

I really wanted to get plants in the ground as well, but I just plain ran out of daylight.  And then I wanted to at least set them out in pots, staging them where I thought they might go, but honestly, I was worried someone would steal them.  I know... that's irrationally crazy... but it's true.  And really, I need to write down what plants I have, and their sun requirements, and how tall they will get so that I can give them their best placement.  I hope to do that list today, and plant tomorrow evening.  Theoretically the planting should go really fast because the soil is recently tilled and ready to go.  Just make a hole, and drop them in.  SO.  EXCITED.

I also bought some supplies to make some really cool plant markers that will LAST.  But that's another post.  : )

This morning dog and I set out for our morning walk, and I'll admit:  Stepping out into the front yard was akin to returning to the scene of the crime.  But it sure did look beautiful out there -- and smelled yummy like great soil.  : )   GEEK.  Happy.

DIY Soil Testing

This past weekend I was ready to amend and till the soil in my new beds in front.  I read about a DIY soil test to determine if my soil is alkaline or acidic.  (I'll give credit where credit is due: ) 

You can follow the link and read for yourself, but roughly the technique is this:

Scoop up some soil and put it in 2 cups.  (If you want to you can scoop from topsoil and from a few inches below the surface and mix them together.)

To the first cup add 1/2 cup vinegar.  To the second cup add 1/2 cup baking soda, and then a 1/2 cup water.

If the vinegar one fizzes, your soil is alkaline.  If the baking soda one fizzes, your soil is acidic.

I did the vinegar one first, and went to my pantry to get the baking soda.  Before I got back, the glass with vinegar had fizzed over the top like a souffle, and all over my counter!   (Note:  conduct this test outdoors... lol)   I guess I got my answer...

Nothing at all happened with the baking soda glass.