Friday, April 29, 2016

Making a Garden

The month of May is quickly approaching, and my thoughts are turning to the garden more every day. When my body is away from the garden, but my thoughts linger there, I can feel impatient, or maybe it's more of a feeling that I'm moving too slowly, that I'm losing time.  I never started any seeds inside, or planted early peas, and the potatoes and onions I wanted to put out could have been in the ground for weeks already, had I been ready.  Just imagine all those lost sunbeams I could have been gathering!  

But on the other hand, it's liberating to allowing myself to experiment more now, while the garden is young.  If you remember, I've been adding clumps of top soil and sod to the places where the mobile chicken coop was parked over the winter.  

I quickly realized that I would need a fence before I could actually allow plants to grow in my new beds.  The giant flock of chickens (and now a turkey!) and the roaming pigs could make short work of digging up plants.  Thanks to a gift of orange plastic fencing and some scavenged metal fence posts, I have a small area around three beds that I can defend against the hungry hoards.  The grass is so long in the fenced in area that it tickles my ankles.  

I had two partial bags of organic potatoes from the grocery store that started to grow in the bag before I could cook them, so I made rings of dead sod dirt clumps and placed potatoes in the center.  No digging required since my garden dirt is so chunky I can arrange it like building blocks of dirt and grass roots.  

Last summer a nice lady who let Tamara and I pick strawberries from her garden gave me some small onions.  She said to just plant them in the garden and they would grow more onions.  I braided them and they've been knocking around the house, getting shuffled in the move, and being used as cat toys all fall and winter.  Believe it or not, some of them looked like they were trying to grow!  I planted these in one of the beds amid the dirt clumps and potato mounds.  

I bought garlic to plant last fall, so of course it was mostly dried up or moldy by now.  I'm sure it's way too late to plant garlic, but I did it anyway.  Who knows, maybe I'll get a bulb or two despite my late start.  

I sprinkled the cloves throughout one side of the bed with the onion braid and the potato mounds.  I'm cramming a lot of things in to these small spaces.  I've never been great at thinning plants, but if even a fraction of the things I planted try to grow, I'm going to have to pull some extras or there won't be room.  Remind me of that later this summer when the bed is overflowing and nothing has the room it needs to do well.  

I bought a bag of purple onion sets at Tractor Supply, and left them sitting so long they are starting to grow in the bag.  I actually think these may still be in good enough shape to grow, so I dedicated most of the second bed to them.  I just stuck them in the cracks between the dirt clumps, like hiding Easter eggs.  

Since I had a partial package of buckwheat seeds that was getting rather old, I sprinkled these over the bed of onions.  Will they sprout?  Will they choke out the onions?  Who knows!  Puck guards the entrance to the garden to keep the chickens at bay while I work.  

A package of old sunflower seeds were planted along one side of a bed.  Some dipper gourd seeds I'm sure were dead got sprinkled along one edge.  Home harvested kale seeds went in there too, and marigolds on the corners of the beds.  Oh, and some cantaloupe seeds too.  What was I thinking?!

My over-planting got so complicated that I was inspired to make a drawing and actually take some notes.  You know, like a real gardener!  

Oh boy, nothing inspires my gardening hopes and dreams like compost!  The kitchen scraps we collected through the fall and winter were looking good.  I picked up the metal barrel ring they were in, moved it over, forked the chunky bits on the surface that weren't decomposed back into the ring, and forked all the black compost that was in the bottom into the wheel barrel.  I added some of the perlite left over from the rocket mass heater too.  

The compost was wet from the recent rain, but I spread it over the seeds, bulbs, and potatoes.  Surely, something will grow now that it has such nice compost to encourage it.  

I put a light coating of straw over both of the beds, and then placed pieces of fencing over that, just in case the chickens breach the walls or the wind tries to blow the straw away.  It feels good to have two beds all covered and tucked in.  I feel sort of caught up, despite my late start.  With just two small beds planted, I feel like I actually have a garden now.  Whew - it's about time! 

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