Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Embracing the farm gal within.
Weeding builds character. Or so my dad always reminded me.
As a child, I loathed spending precious play time in the garden. I hated the monotony of sitting still, pulling weeds, tending to spindly little plants. It didn't seem to matter how much or often I pulled weeds, there were always weeds the following day. It was a thankless, tiresome job, but someone had to do it. Plus, it built character. I am now lucky enough to be full of character, among other things...
Fast forward to today, and I get frustrated when I don't get time with my plants. Outdoor living space, room for pots, a garden, all of these things are major must haves for any home I live in. Time spent in the garden in crucial for my mind, body and soul. Who knew that the much hated, character building chore of my youth would morph into a lifelong passion and hobby?
I recently built a garden at the house. I use the term 'built' lightly, because this garden adventure was like a chemistry experiment. We had a recipe for creating an environment that happily grew 10+ foot tall tomato plants. Envisioning a garden brimming with rosy ripened tomatoes, I knew I had to give it a try. I am a huge advocate of growing your own vegetables, if you can. Yes, it's pricey to start, but there is a certain satisfaction I cannot quite name in plucking fresh basil from your own plant, and selecting only the most robust tomatoes for your salad. Mostly, its sweat equity, and you get out if it what you put in. the more time and care you take, the better all the veggies are going to turn out. Plus, its never been easier to be organic. Feed the plants good stuff and love them, and bam! you've practically got an local, organic produce market right outside your front door. I started most of my seeds inside about a month ago. As they got stronger, I'd transplant to larger containers to give them more room to grow. I bought some starts from a local nursery as well. Plus, it took two loads of topsoil and compost to build this baby. If I don't get pretty vegetables, I may cry.
We chose an area of the yard between alder trees, backed by a rock wall as the perfect location for the garden. It was in the front yard, got full sun most of the day, and was protected by the aforementioned trees. After bordering the area with round poles, we began the construction. I wish I had taken pictures of this process, but I forgot. Step 1 - cover exposed ground with plastic. Step 2 - Layer newspaper 20 sheets thick over plastic. Sprinkle with bone meal and wet down. Step 3 - Layer 12" deep of alfalfa. Sprinkle with bone meal and wet down. Step 4 - Layer strae 8"-12" thick. Sprinkle with bone meal and wet down. Step 5 - Add topsoil or compost.
Supposedly, the alfalfa and straw create a matrix that is nutrient rich, and also holds a lot of water, so the plants are less likely to die of thirst. Well, that's REALLY unlikely here anyway. I think with all the rain lately, I'll never have to water that bed.
It looks as thought my labeling didn't come through that well, but in th garden, we planted cucumbers, red onions, cilantro, parsley, snap peas, peas, kale, collard greens, chard, sweet peppers, strawberries, and of course, tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, yellow).
We strung up fishing line between the two trees to give the peas something to climb up. The kale has been planted in stages, so we will always have something to pick. I am really excited to see how the collard greens and chard grow. I can't wait to post more garden photos this summer and keep you all up to date with the growth!
I'll leave you all with a picture from the pot on our deck - I love coming home to this bright vibrant flowers! If you have gardens, share your secrets! I'd love to know what everyone else out there is planting!