Monday, April 23, 2012

And Now, on to Growing

It must be beer o'clock, because the hard part is done! 

Since about year one and a half of veg garden I had been thinking I wanted to add a few more plots to the project.  I began with six semi-raised beds which, at the time was a crazy effort that seemed just on the verge of being too much.  All that sod busting and digging and making nice is just so backbreaking here in the land of clay that it was painful to undertake and difficult to forget.  And I'd been dreading and procrastinating having to revisit it all, but this season turned out to be the year.  My strawberries have gone nuts and earned full run of their bed instead of just half, and I decided I'd take my own advice and plant a full bed with asparagus crowns instead of the meager few I started with, and thus more room to grow got moved to "priority" instead of "dream".
And of course I also needed time to get Boy used to the idea, because he's where the shovel meets most of the dirt most of the time.    

My hard working, never complaining, most dearest Boy did the real tough stuff--breaking up and removing the sod making spots for the new beds and screwing around with moving and remaking the fence.  We made quick work of building four more boxes from 2" x 8" lumber and of tidying up my existing six beds with a load of compost.  Hurray yet again for schleppage via our big truck.  It ain't pretty at the mall, but it sure makes the hauling and the dirty work less work. 

four new beds
On to bed making!  I finally had the bright idea to buy a digging fork, aka a "spading fork" as a hopefully easier way to get down into our hard, heavy clay soil and break it up, the better to mix in the stuff that actually grows stuff.  And to call what we sit on soil is a misnomer--it laughs at even the biggest roto-tiller I can borrow.  But because even my beginning veg gardener chops have been schooled--via a season or two of stubby carrots in my existing beds--that soil prep is the key, I knew I needed to find a way to do better.  And I can't believe I didn't think of the fork thing sooner, because it was a revelation and proved to be much more effective than trying to shovel or till.  Still, this was not an easy adventure by any means, but miles better and easier than the alternatives.  Anyway, an entire days' worth of forking and breaking up and mixing with good stuff and I've got four tidy new beds and six better-than-ever beds almost ready for plants.  One more big trucks' worth of compost to top off those new ones and we'll be set! 

Now I want to know--what are YOU excited about growing or digging up this year?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Garden Innagural, 2012

Boy was all excited when I told him we could harvest some asparagus from our garden this year. 

first asparagus
Don't get too full, Boy.

Really though, I'm not complaining, and I should get to harvest a few more spears over the next week or so.  And no matter what, nothing is better than getting stuff to eat from right outside your door, especially when it's that first something of the Spring.  Asparagus is one of those things you may tell yourself you don't have the patience for because it takes a couple of years before the plants, or "crowns" are established enough to be able to give up any of their shoots to eating, but impatient me is here to tell you that wait passes in the blink of an eye and will have you kicking yourself for not planting a whole beds' worth of crowns.  Buy and plant many.  I promise you, they won't disappoint. 

Here's where we're at with other gardening:

 Thats lots of tomatoes and peppers and a few interesting-seeming annuals that I figured I'd have a go at. 
Greens, beets and dill could have gone directly in already, but I need to make a compost and manure run to set my six beds to rights for the season.
I'm also planning to add an additional four beds to the garden for a total of ten, the better to comply with that wish for a whole beds' worth of asparagus, and lots of other goodies.

And then non-edible but maybe still interesting, did I ever tell you about our facade greening undertaking? I'm happy to report the hops rhizomes we planted on our west wall and enjoyed nursing to hugeness last summer are back in full force.  They don't look like much today, but they grow like INSANITY.  We're under the gun to get their climbing ropes in place because these pathetic looking little shoots of today will be four feet tall by the end of the week. Really.
hops vine

Have you gotten yourselves signed up for a CSA share for this season?  As usual, I'll recommend as the go-to resource for CSA's and all things edible and local.  I've gotten on the books for a fruit share this season as well, which will be new to us, so definitely stay tuned for the full report on that experience!

Anyway, as much as I adore the weekly CSA fridge-cram and can't bear the thought of leaving off from our farm and farmer of five years, I'm hoping I'll have this whole gardening thing dialed in enough within another couple of years that I can be self sufficient.  For us that means a good variety of everything to completely cover day to day eating plus my usual 40 or 50lbs. of tomatoes canned and frozen plus other assorted frozen greens and veg AND enough storage and root veg crops to get us well into the depths of winter if not beyond. 
Yikes...where is my root cellar, again?

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