Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reclaiming the Garden!

I love Spring!

And although we've only had moderate success with our garden the past couple years, I love gardening, too!

There's just something about working the ground and nurturing the plants that's calming and satisfying.

This year, we've had unusually warm weather, which means I've been getting in the mood to get the garden going sooner than usual.  It also means the weeds got a head-start, so our garden was looking like this a few weeks ago:

Pretty nasty, huh?

But at least our blueberry bush came back in full force!

I'm not 100% sure, but I think the blooms will eventually become berries...

We even had some rogue lettuce leftover from last year come back.

Ultimately, there was a lot of work to do before the garden would be ready to plant.  Especially considering how we doubled the size of it after putting in the patio last year (which required us to remove a good amount of dirt to get the proper slope for the patio, which we just dumped at the back of the yard. Instead of seeding it, we decided just to expand the garden!). Here's the new section (I tilled the dirt we dumped there last Fall to smooth it out):

The first step in preparing the garden was to plan out how we were going to plant everything. For Christmas, Jennifer got me a really awesome book called Organic Gardening for the 21st Century. While it seems to be written for commercial growers, the same principles apply to our garden, just on a smaller scale.

From the book, I've picked up some really good tips on what should be planted together, the proper way to rotate the crops from year to year, how to space the plants, what types of soil each plant prefers, and how to use nature to your advantage to grow healthy plants without relying on chemicals.

Here's what we came up with:

It's difficult to read because of the pencil, but here's what we're planning on planting (from left to right, front to back):

  • Wildflowers
  • Peppers (6 plants)
  • Zucchini (3 plants)
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Winter squash (spaghetti squash)
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine
  • Edamame
  • Blueberries
  • Compost pile

The past two gardens we've done, we've really crammed things in, so this year we really wanted to make sure we spaced everything out really well. This time around, the rows are all 3 feet wide, with 3 foot walkways in between. Because of the way it worked out, the tomatoes got the extra foot we had leftover, so that row is 4 feet wide (and based on the ginormous plants we've had before, we'll need it).

The next step was to get the rows tilled. I've found that tilling is easier if you turn the dirt over with a shovel first, so that's what I did, using my tape measure as a guide.

While I was out there doing all the hard work, Jennifer was enjoying the sunshine (probably reading blogs).

Looks like Hunter had the same idea:

But of course, Jen was nice and brought me a cold beer when I needed a break.

Yeah, it's not one of mine. I really like the stout I just made, so I'm trying my best to save them.

Back to work!

Once the rows were dug, I decided to plant another blueberry bush we picked up.

After digging and tilling the spot,

I mixed in some potting mix and stuck the new guy right next to our other bush.

To keep the birds from eating the berries, I covered both bushes with some bird netting.

At the end of the day, here's how the garden looked:

There's still quite a bit of work to do before we'll start getting some veggies, but it's come a long way!


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