At the moment, we’ve got a few seeds germinating, indoors and outdoors, but we’ve hit a cold snap, which means gardening is currently on hold until it warms up. So, while we’re waiting, why not do a little looking back?
Scene: our house, early spring, 2012
Almost immediately after moving into our house early last year, we started talking about the garden. At that point, our gardening experience was almost nil. In previous abodes we found success with growing small batches of tomatoes in planter boxes. At one point, we tried to get a melon plant started, which our cat summarily ate (ARGH, kitty!). But we had never actually planted stuff into the ground. So with the house, we knew two things:
We wanted to plant stuff in the ground.
We wanted raised beds.
But with a limited budget, we also knew that we had to start small. We already had a few rail planters (pictured above), which we quickly made use of. So our primary purchases last year were a couple raised bed kits, a seed starting kit, some biodegradable pots, an inexpensive and very useful “greenhouse,” and a basic assortment of seeds: Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, onions, bell peppers, and several herbs. We had also been saving random seeds for a couple years prior, so we also started hot peppers and grapes. And we even tried our hand with a strawberry plant.
Seed starting kits are fantastic inventions. Consisting of anywhere from 16 to 72 starters, these kits with their little cups filled with hardened coconut fiber and/or peat squares that expanded upon watering, proved perfect for starting our tomatoes and peppers. They stayed indoors until they germinated, and then we put them out in the nice, warm greenhouse where they thrived until planting.
Meanwhile, our other seeds had to be sowed directly into the ground, which meant we more work to do than just watching a bunch of seed starters expand in water (which isn’t quite as entertaining as it sounds). And boy, was it work.
As I mentioned in my last post, the previous owners had once done a fair amount of gardening, and we picked a portion of the sunniest bed for the bulk of our garden. Measuring a good 10 feet long, the bed had been overtaken by wildflowers and weeds. It took us most of a weekend to clear away as much as we could (we tried to not totally destroy all the flowers) and till up the soil that was left. And oh man…the soil. If I was into pottery, our soil would be the best thing going, because it’s essentially clay. Red in color, our soil absorbs water like nobody’s business and is super dense. It was a bear to till up (by hand) just the smallest portion, but we managed.
Once the main beds were complete, it was time to deal with the raised beds, which meant more work, like digging up sod and MORE tilling. I forget the kind of grass we have, but it is incredibly think and has very dense roots. Breaking up the sod was like cutting and digging through 6-inch thick carpet. Oh, it was a painful weekend. But between us, a shovel, and plenty of elbow grease, we prepared the spaces for the beds and moved onto the next project and the theme of the next post: soil. Tune in next week for all the …dirt! (Haha! I see what you did there!)