Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back to the Soil

You may remember I made mention a few weeks ago of spring beginning around here...

In fact, it's rapidly leaving us behind, it seems!  We almost missed the hyacinths, and today I turned around and saw these tulips.  In fact, when I saw them in the early afternoon, they hadn't even opened.

Of course, you know around here, spring means more than just pretty flowers.

Yes, it's time for me to unkink my gardening muscles (and kink up my back, but that's all part of the game).  It's time to grow food!  Most of this lettuce was planted in October and wintered over in a very dormant state.  This planter was all the winter gardening I was able to maintain.

Now that it's gardening season, though, it's time to tackle this mess.

Wanna feel better about your own garden?  Go ahead, click on it to biggerize it...get a good view of the weeds, the half-unearthed irrigation hose, the carrots we never dug up last fall.  The small boxes in front would look just as bad except I used the weed-wacker on them out of frustration!  There is a small clear patch in the main bed where I spent a couple of evenings this week weeding for just a little bit at a time after work.

But there's no more bit-by-bit.  Nope, I crossed the line this morning.  We had our annual meeting for the Farmers' Market volunteers, and just being with such a passionate group inspired me.  That, and the fact that our most wonderful local hardware/garden store was a block down the street, beckoning to me with unlimited gardening supplies.  I was good, though.  I only got this much.

I've had to make some mental adjustments about this year's garden.  First, I came to realize that it's not really "our" garden.  It's my garden.  Miss Chef will--if she happens to be home--enthusiastically dig and plant with me in the lovely spring weather.  In fact, she surprised me with that trellis she made a couple of years ago, to feed my pea frenzy.  However, once the weather warms up and the plants get busy, she has no interest in maintaining the thing.  Weeding, thinning, watering, tying up, even's all me.

Second, we will be gone for two full weeks right at the height of the season, when spring crops can be nursed through one last harvest, and summer crops are beginning to take off.  Three years ago we spent a week in Chicago during this same period, and the garden was devastated by rabbits.  With that in mind, I'm planning just a spring garden: broccoli, peas, beets and cucumbers, so far.  I have invited some neighbors to use the space for summer crops, especially while we're gone.  They haven't decided yet, but I might plant a few squashes and zucchinis, and ask them to come water and harvest while we're gone.  Or, at least harvest.

Even with scaling back my plans, those weeds weren't going to remove themselves.  So I set to work with shovel, gloves, trowel..., shovel, gloves, dandelion digger, watering can, etc.  I thought of many of you while I worked.  I was wearing the Iowa farmers' market shirt sent to me by Claire, and was wondering how long it will be until Liz can break ground up there in Indiana.  I appreciated the lovely, crumbly dirt after seeing all that dusty stuff in New Mexico on Justina's and Lisa's blogs.  There's a lot of time for thinking when uprooting an army of weeds.

Before I planted anything edible, however I planted something else...

...newspapers as mulch.  Miss Chef tried to do this last year, but it was after the fact, and she didn't put enough dirt on them, so they blew all over the yard.  (Planning is not always our strongest gardening skill.)  If you look closely, you can see that this year I'm burying Prince in my garden!  I only had enough stamina newspaper to do the edges, but it will be interesting to see if there's a difference in weeds and water use.

I also planted some stepping stones and transplanted the trellis.  After two or three hours, dirty knees, fogged up sunglasses and that kink in my back, I ended up with this.

I'm calling it my half-assed garden.  I spent a lot of time on my ass (and hands and knees), pulling up weeds, and it's only half done!

(Reality check: a pause, while I go investigate the wet "urrrp" sound coming from the living room...and clean up Rosie's regurgitated dinner.  Sigh.  I do love you, sweetie, but...why??)

Sorry, Mama.

Anyway, I did surprise myself by getting everything in...nine broccoli plants, peas and cucumbers along the trellis, and a couple rows of beets for Miss Chef.  It may be my garden, but that doesn't mean I can't grow a few things just for her.  (She's a beet maniac; the cukes are for her too.)  

Since Miss Chef won't be home until close to midnight, I can surprise her in the morning with my half-assed garden.  Who knows, maybe she'll catch the bug and grab a shovel...I can always dream.  :-)

To finish off, I leave you with another lovely edible...the rosemary is blooming.  I forgot it does charming.


  1. Sigh....I keep wandering like an orphan around my garden. It's warming up, but the soil is still too saturated to start working it. I did manage to clean up all the mess from the visiting chickens in the fall (there was mulch EVERYWHERE!), and I've got seedlings started in the greenhouse, but everything else is having to wait.

    Don't worry about your garden being half-assed - all the best gardeners feel that way!

  2. The newspaper trick is new to me. I've never heard of that before. I hope it works.

    I'm jealous of your fresh lettuce. There is nothing better than fresh picked greens :-)

    And I give you a ton of credit for remembering you'll be in Paris at the height of your crop. I would never have thought that far in advance!

    Happy weekend, jj

  3. It will most likely be April before I get started on anything here. I have to dig out the garden from last year and this year is new dirt/manure. Maybe I'll do newspaper, too! Haven't decided what to plant yet... bought started plants last year and that was far easier than going from seed for us.

  4. I bow down before your goddess green thumb! The closest I get to gardening is the farmer's market.

    Keep an eye on Rosie. Our Stella kept barfing up her meals so we took her to the vet and now we're treating her for hook worms.

  5. Sniff sniff. I'm not sure we're still friends after seeing your beautiful garden and Spring flowers, lol! We have a few months to go.

    For some reason, your thumbnail is not updating in my sidebar. It still shows the Smoky post. Strange.

  6. I so envy your energy! Oh, wait, I have an excuse - I live in an apt. with no garden opportunity! Still, I have had gardens in years past, flower and veggie, and I can admire yours.

    Nancy in Iowa

  7. I've heard of the newspaper trick. It's so important to have veggies that are up on current events.... ;-)

  8. Spring gardening work is so exhausting, but it is such a great tiredness. I've done the newspaper thing...and yes, they have graced our yard and the neighbors at times! But, they really do work wonders.
    We all know that wet "urrrp" sound - yuck!

  9. I enjoy watching you work like this. Someday I might get up off my couch and go water that plant in the corner.

    See how inspiring you are?

  10. From hell's heart I stab at thee, weeds. I have to get on weed patrol tomorrow. Fun!


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