Finally Getting Outside!

There’s nothing quite like getting outside after a long, cold winter, is there? Of course, we’ve had some nice weekends this April, but none was quite as perfect as what we enjoyed this weekend. And as we were a little overdue in getting outside to work, we were very happy that the weather cooperated with us. And this weekend session in the yard mostly involved cleaning up and getting to work on the second stone bed.

Movin' stones and takin' names!
Movin’ stones and takin’ names!

First things first, we had to move the stones from the rough outline we had then in to their correct formation. Since we eventually want to build a patio between the two beds, it was important that the middle section between the two beds measure the same width from one end of the beds to the other. And once that width was set, then it was a matter of setting the oval shape. Once that was done, it was time to work on the bed itself.

With the bed set, next was dealing with the sod.
With the bed set, next was dealing with the sod.

Sod removal without a sod removing tool like a cutter is, we’re sorry to say, a dismal and painful job. As we did with the first bed last year, and armed only with a shovel, we started cutting the sod out of the bed square by square. With our thick carpet of grass and its dense, zig-zaggy root system, cutting away each piece required more than a whole lot of elbow grease. The process was slow, and after several hours of work, we only got about two-thirds of the bed done.

Almost there.
Almost there, and the new soil awaits.

With only one shovel, the sod removal was really a one-person job, which is why it took so long and didn’t get done in a day. So while one of us handled that, the other of us worked on yard clean-up and tilling the other beds.

There was lots of nice soil hiding under the leaves.
There was lots of nice soil hiding under the leaves.

We removed most of the leaves from all the other beds and aerated the existing soil. The leaves provided great protection from the elements over the winter, and for the most part, most of the beds will only need a thin layer of new soil. And one of the more interesting parts of this process, especially since we really hadn’t examined the yard in full before this weekend, was finding a number of surprises, such as bunches of lettuce!

Well, well, well...looky here!
Well, well, well…looky here!

In this bed last year we planted to whole bunch of greens – lettuces, spinach, kale. And it seems that lots of the seeds survived the winter, though we’re not exactly sure what type of lettuce is growing in the middle of the bed. It has pretty red-green leaves. In addition, there are small sprouts of green leaf lettuce all over the bed. It’s nice to see. This is the only bed we didn’t till, as we decided to just plant around these plants.

Meanwhile, we discovered this plant growing in the older stone bed:

Another mystery plant!
Another mystery plant!

The picture above shows the mystery plant as we transplanted it at the front of the house. Not quite sure what it is though. The leaves are somewhat fuzzy and there’s red mottling in the stems. It kind of looks like immature rhubarb, but we don’t think that’s what it is, and we certainly haven’t planted an rhubarb. We’re going to keep an eye on it; see if it survives in its new location.

Beyond moving a stray plant and tilling, we also spent time clearing sticks and leaves from the yard.

Yep, those are a sticks and leaves, alright.
Yep, those are sticks and leaves, alright.

And we also cleaned out the cold frame in preparation for the seedlings, which we’ll put out next weekend, if not sooner.

All nice and clean!
All nice and clean!

As we were taking stock of the yard generally, we noticed that not only is the mint we planted last year coming back, it has spread considerably!

So many little mint buds!
So many little mint buds!

The mint is in a rather desolate place in the front yard, so it’s exciting to see that we might get a nice crop this year that fills in the space.

And now, as we sit here in an exhausted stupor, we realize that there’s only one more weekend left before our ideal in-ground planting date. Will we be ready? Will our seedlings be ready?? Will the garden be ready to become a garden??? Stay tuned!

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5 thoughts on “Finally Getting Outside!

  1. fmajewicz 04/20/2015 / 5:59 pm

    Lucky you! Up north we are still cold and wet, wet, wet. Can’t even walk in the garden it is so muddy.

    • Garden State-ments 04/26/2015 / 2:57 pm

      Yuck, sorry to hear! This weekend wasn’t quite as nice as last weekend, but at least it wasn’t super cold.

  2. A Really Small Farm 05/18/2015 / 6:07 pm

    I think I may know what your mystery plant is: burdock, the wild relative of gobo. If it makes round seed clusters covered in velcro-like bristles then you’ll know.

    • Garden State-ments 05/19/2015 / 7:49 am

      We looked up burdock and you could be right! Sadly, the plant didn’t survive the transplant, but if another turns up, we’ll know what to expect. Thanks!

      • A Really Small Farm 05/19/2015 / 8:20 am

        I’m pretty sure another will show up. Burdock is just about everywhere. I planted seeds of the cultivated form a few days ago. The roots are edible.

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