Here begins my gardening blog posts.
I am keeping this blog because I love the idea of gardening and I believe gardening has an awful lot to teach us about life, but I’m a lousy gardener. So, having resolved to give it another shot, I’m going to keep track of things here and also ask for advice.
I’m beginning to blog on it today because I began my next spring garden today. Karen and I discussed how much we want to shoot for (she’s no specialist either) and decided on a 14X4 foot plot. We’re going to divide it into three four foot squares and use the square foot method.
Here in Charlotte the soil was derived from the brick houses that have been built here for about 2000 years. Everywhere you look, you see great red brick houses and the soil has come over time to match those houses as they have disintegrated and filtered into the soil. As a result, the soil is firm and red. Very clayey.
So last year (2006) I added bags and bags of loam to our garden plot and tilled the kilns right out of it. This year we had a puppy so we didn’t even try to grow a garden. Well, I thouht about it once or twice, but every time the temptation assaulted me I remembered the puppy and realized an excuse was ready at hand. So this year, no garden.
But I want to grow one next year and I’d much rather prepare the soil now while it soft and warm and mushy and friable instead of in March or April or more likely May or June when it’s hard and compacted and frozen and non-compliant. So Karen and I went out and looked at it for awhile. When nothing happened we started to discuss what we should do with it. Eventually we decided to plant the three four foot squares mentioned above. The one on the left would be for vegetables and maybe a fruit or two, the middle one would be for flowers and herbs, and the one on the right will be for more vegetables and maybe a fruit or two. Andrew would like to grow a watermelon or twelve.
Over the past year the soil has covered in grass with a special portion converted into a doggy hole. So the first preparation task was to get some of the grass removed and to fill the hole. Andrew came out and helped me with this. I dug up the left portion with a spade and we shook the grass off and threw it in a bucket to begin a compost heap. I’d like to imagine it will be usable next spring, but I think that’s overly optimistic. Does anybody know a way to get a compost pile to be ready for the following spring when its already October? I’m told it takes about a year.
Here was my first pleasant surprise. Last year, I had to take a tiller to the soil and it was a battle between a grizzly and an angry rooster. The rototiller was running all over the yard and occasionally turned on me. After the battle I counted three murdered groundhogs, fourteen armies of termites littering the field of battle (I think I saw their president delivering a eulogy), and two dead bears. This year, I simply put the spade in the soil, gave it a bit of a push, and low and behold the lovely soil I had begun to cultivate last year was still sort of there! The grass shook out easily, the soil turned eagerly, and within 45 minutes or so Andrew settled in to raking it to a lovely, even, smooth surface. It made me want to plant some crops right now. I thought about winter rye, but that would have required locating and acquring some and I was pretty tired out by this point.
Next step: middle square and right square. Then I want to add some loam, check the Ph and adjust it if necessary, and otherwise begin to condition the soil for spring. With a little luck, I’ll get some winter rye planted or maybe cover the garden with straw.
Oh, even before that I’d like to get some low lying fencing to make it attractive. I’m sure we’ll need chicken wire or something unsightly, but I like the idea of some attractive mini-fencing. Any ideas?
Also, I’m open to any suggestions people might have for how to condition the soil. I’m thinking about adding vermiculite or perite and some peat moss. I might get some horse manure from a nearby farm (there are a few within say five miles).
So there it is. My first garden blog. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to post and food to sell in the future.