Monday, April 8, 2013

Gearing Up for Growing

The light ground behind the trellises is the back half of the garden that
we cannot use this year.
It's SPRING! It's almost time to plant! I had a lot of fun this afternoon tilling up my vegetable patch with my shovel and getting it ready to tuck my little babies in their beds. Can you tell I like to garden?

This is my fifth year with this particular garden. You can see in the photo that it's quite a lot smaller than it has been before. Half as small, actually. There is a tree in the corner of the yard that needs trimmed back to allow enough sunlight into the back half of the garden. For now it's useless space, and that makes me sad. But a smaller garden will allow me to tend all of the plants more easily and I am hoping that the trade will equal larger, more lush plants with bigger fruits and vegetables.

In the past we have done container gardens and my very first real vegetable patch was a crop of contraband cucumbers I had growing underneath the back porch of an apartment I rented. I planted holly hocks and sun flowers in front of them so the managers couldn't see them from the street. Those little cucumber plants were pervasive and unruly! It was very hard keeping them out of sight and they even came back the following year with out replanting.

The light earth has seen four years worth of
gardening and has had most of the nutrients
leeched out of it. The black compost was
spread on heavily.

This particular patch of yard has seen a lot of gardening and it shows. Looking at the difference in color of these two soils in the picture above, it's obvious that my garden soil is pretty barren. But that black stuff, it's not ordinary soil. That's what a years worth of vegetable matter looks like after it has decomposed. And entire years worth of kitchen waste and yard scraps actually and I have tended my compost dutifully.

My compost bin is a large plastic container (and old garbage bin) with holes drilled along the sides and the top and a gaping hole in the bottom to allow decomposed matter to come out of the bottom. I watered it, turned it with a pitch fork and after the year, I raked it out along the ground to allow it to finish breaking down in the early weeks of spring.

There are many ways to make your own composter. I personally didn't fuss with layering. I notice a lot of experts like to have rules with the "proper" way to compost. While I am sure there is reason behind these rules, I doubt that my grass clippings will refuse to decompose if they are not adequately sandwiched between dried leaves and moldy broccoli.

How rich and black this compost was! That's pay-dirt!

The kids got new gardening tools this year from the Easter Bunny, and what a perfect idea! The Little Miss was helping me shovel the compost into our bin to carry to the garden patch.

While we were  digging out our compost, we found some garlic cloves that had sprouted. We found about twenty little ones, so we decided to plant them! I'm guessing they will be ready in the summer, with fresh garlic bulbs.

This year I am only planting five things. It was going to be four, but I couldn't ignore the hearty little garlic cloves. I've gotten myself in trouble in the past trying to grow too many things. I love vegetables, so of course I get greedy. Since last season, I have started my own business and I know that I won't have the time to weed and take care of quite so much.

My fence is a figure head fence. It has no real power, I know that. It's not going to keep the animals out or the children who decide to take a walk inside, but it does provide a visual stop for children who are running mindlessly through the yard too focused on their game to think of  helpless plants stuck in the ground to be stepped on by careless feet.

My garden layout is carefully planned to allow maximum sunlight to all plants,
and arranged by height following the directionality of the sun. In the past, we
 have had great luck with companion planting.

I am growing tomato plants along the trellises, and I will be buying seedlings. Every year I grow my tomatoes from seed and wind up with my heart broken after the rabbits have their way with the baby plants. The garlic will be in the back right corner. I will give those unruly cucumbers another shot, and have allotted them a large space in the front. Some jalapeƱo's and some lettuce should give us a nice summer salad. The garlic will go well with the wild onions that grow beneath the oak tree to make the dressing.

One if the tiny garlic sprouts we found
growing in our compost.

I am sure I will plant herbs in the corners after it warms up a little more, but for now this tiny garden is more than enough to make me happy.

Do you garden? What are you growing this year?


  1. Wow, looks like you are going to have an amazing garden! We have had bad luck with ours in the past, fingers crossed for a better year for us. :)

  2. Thanks Angela! I am hopeful this year to have nice big plants. Good luck with your garden!