19 Sep 2012 No Comments
Meet my new “garden coaching” subjects. Justin and Eyry have decided to start a garden (yipee!) and have graciously accepted my offer to help, so long as I can take pictures and post online. No problem. Now they’ll tell you they’re novice gardeners, but one look at their new plot and you’ll cross your arms and knit your brow and say, sure they are…
Okay. Those are some gorgeously formed beds, I’ll give you that–but they’re not that hard to make. Seriously. Not when you have the right tools, they’re not. And I’m not talking about a well-trained husband–as shown above–I’m talking gas-powered tiller!
Beautiful, isn’t it? Better yet, you can rent one from your nearest rent-all. Unfortunately they do not come stocked with man-powered operator (ugh), but they are fairly easy to manage. It’s a machine. It’s automated. My whole yard would be garden, if I had one of these babies!
Truly. You can do this on your own and put the hardest chunk of the job behind you. Or, build your raised planters like these. Simple, right?
Manageable. Either way, you’ve jumped your first hurdle. Justin and Eyry chose an in ground garden and selected a nice corner spot in their backyard that gets plenty of sun.
Important. Most vegetable plants need at least 4 – 6 hours of warm and wooly sunshine to do their business. So what next? Simply push like a lawn mower and the machine rips the grass apart before your very eyes. I can feel the excitement building already, can’t you?
Once finished, you will have a dirt/cuttings mix. At this point you have two options. No energy left? Leave the chunk of chopped grass and dirt “as is” and come back tomorrow. I’ve learned I have a max of 4 hours work time in the outdoor sun. That’s it. The job requires more? I’m coming back the next day. I’ve also learned (from experience–the hard way) that if you leave all that grass and any weeds that may be hidden within in said grass as they are, they will grow back.
“Grow back?” you ask, stunned. “But you’ve torn them to smithereens. How can they possibly grow back?”
Trust me. They grow back. Maybe it’s Florida, maybe it’s my good luck, maybe Mother Nature is inflicting her sense of humor on me (she does that from time to time), but if you leave those greens in place, you will see them again. So call the kids, bribe them with ice cream, make it a game, do whatever you have to do and sift those babies out of there before you start forming your beds.
A good rule of thumb for your plant beds is about 3 feet wide and 8-12 inches high–from the low point in your walkway. Another tip? I used to have nice wide paths between my rows. I covered them with hay mulch and everything looked lovely and pleasant.
Yes, that’s me, crawling on hands and knees. (Just call me Nature Girl!) The point is, it looked good, but ended up to be more work than it was worth. Why?
Not because of the effort it took to spread the hay, but the effort it took to weed the hay. Eventually, hay decomposes, as does the light paper beneath it, and weeds grow. (Remember, heavy-duty commercial grade weed cover is your friend.) Narrow rows are your friend, too. I mean, why waste the space? My feet are big, but I can certainly walk down an 18 inch wide path as well as a 36 inch one! Look closely and you’ll see. Justin gets it. Wide beds, narrow walkways.
So there you have it. Now that we have our garden “groomed” for germination, I can’t wait to see what Justin and Eyry decide to plant! Stay-tuned and take notes–if you’re one of my Arctic Amigos, you’ll want to remember this come spring.