After a long work day last Sunday, I took the photo above and was amazed at how much we accomplished. This is already the biggest garden I have ever had, and I was so impressed that we managed to make so much progress in a single day! Over the week away from the farm, my mental image of these narrow beds of planted seeds must have grown, because when I finally got to revisit them this weekend, I was surprised to find that it wasn't quite the sprawling acreage I envisioned. This is a good thing, since I was getting worried that weeding this garden was going to be more overwhelming than usual.
If you remember, I spread carpet over the grass where I wanted to make a garden, with the goal of killing the existing vegetation and hopefully allowing us to plant our plants without having to till. After two seasons of blanketing the ground, there was enough organic matter on top of the carpets to allow weed seeds to sprout. When the rocks, bricks, and boards that I used to hold the carpet down were removed, which was a big job, they left impressions of themselves in these dense seedlings.
This is what the soil looked like under the carpet. Look at all those vole tunnels!
And snake eggs too! The eggs had already hatched, but we found two different clutches, each with different sized eggs. Earthworms were everywhere. This soil is definitely full of life.
Once Jamie removed all the miscellaneous carpet weights, we moved the carpet to fresh grass so we can expand the garden in the future, and Brandon used the bush hog to cut down all the tall weeds that grew in the paths between the carpets. It was pretty easy to rake the loose soil into a nice seed bed.
Please forgive me for the boring seed packet pictures, but I want to keep a record of what we planted where, and it's very easy to snap a photo. So far, the lettuce seeds are the first to sprout.
I even took a picture of our planting technique, just in case our future selves can't remember how we spaced our rows. We tried several different row arrangements, but we were consistent in keeping a rakes width between the rows. This seems so indulgent to me! I'm used to crowding my plants in my small raised beds, and rarely give anything more than a hoes width. It's nice to be able to spread out.
Jamie and I selected spinach as this year's main crop. We are even flirting with the idea of growing enough to sell, despite our complete ignorance on how to market spinach. We decided that if we are lucky enough to grow a bunch of spinach, and can't figure out how to sell it, we will enjoy sharing it and eating it, so we planted a lot.
We marked each row with a piece of lattice that came from the plaster wall demolition.
Brandon was excited to try out the tiller that came with the little tractor, and we managed to manhandle it onto the tractor, only sacrificing a few smashed fingers in the process. Fingers can grow back, but I worry about hernias and back pain whenever we start talking about using tractor implements. Wouldn't a donkey and plow be easier? And more adorable?
It took a little practice since none of the gears are marked on the tractor, and we had to try several attachment arrangements, but once Brandon got the knack of it, it did an excellent job of tilling the soil in the places where the carpet technique wasn't applied.
Jamie had a good experience with some mashed parsnips, so we were ready to try our hand at growing them. I predict that the clay soil will make for a stunted crop. Cross your fingers.
We planted the kale in a large bed in rows placed at a diagonal. Diagonal rows might be pretty.
Three types of spinach. So much spinach! This one, the Bloomsdale Long Standing, isn't a hybrid, so we could save seeds from the plants for next year. I'll just be happy if we get it grow.
We worked in the garden and on other projects around the farm until the sun set behind the corn crib, and we couldn't see any more. Despite last years garlic and radishes, I feel like this was the official grand opening of the garden. It couldn't have been a more perfect day.
On our drive home, with all three of us crammed in the cab of the truck, and Puck squished into the floor board, we talked about the need for better garden notes and drawing to help us remember what we planted where. Jamie used an app on his phone to make a quick sketch of the days work. Professional quality design work, right? Ha!