amend soil

Time to Break Some Ground!

Put your “fun cap” on because it’s time to get your hands dirty!  It’s time to break ground for your new spring garden!  Already have a garden?  Perfect, but you can still get in on the action as it’s a good idea to work your soil for a fresh start.

Now, while I’d like to say this is the easy part—that would be a lie.  This is the part where you get your exercise.  Stretch those cold stiff muscles and get limber again.  Remember, we reap what we sow and we can’t sow if we don’t dig.

Are you smiling yet?  Good.  Now, one of the secrets to great plants is loose soil.  Loose soil promotes strong, deep roots and encourages a healthy plant which means a productive plant.  I learned this the hard way with carrots.  Have you ever seen an “L” shaped carrot?  I have.  As a general rule, carrots will grow down as far as they can easily manage, until the going gets too tough, and then they grow sideways.  Literally.  Packed soil is not their friend.  It’s not friendly to any plant, really, because it doesn’t promote good aeration which helps the plant take in the nutrients it needs. More

Meet My New Garden Coach Project!

I have another “willing woman” to participate in this adventure we call gardening.  Her name is Mandy (no, she’s not the Mandy from last year) and she is gung-ho for gardening!  Seriously, this woman has major plans for her garden.  We’re talking total edible landscaping–eventually–but for now, we’re going to begin with a small section in her back patio.

She’s already cleared out half the space and because it receives plenty of sun it will be the perfect spot for the zucchini, cucumbers and black-eye peas she wants to plant.  Remember:  always start with your favorites and if they’re easy like this group well, then, all the better.  🙂  I do like easy.

For watering, Mandy intends to install a drip system in this area–the perfect method of irrigation–especially with the squash family.  They’re susceptible to fungus (as will be demonstrated on our school garden post this Friday) so keeping the water off the leaves when possible is key.  Another way for her to utilize this space is by inserting a metal trellis against the back fence, giving her cucumber somewhere to climb up and out of the garden.  Her zucchini could probably manage the climb, but they’ll take the low route  and hang out down along the sidewalk.

Her black-eye peas should get along fine with the cucumber, so she could slip them in alongside, or place them in the opposite yet-to-be-weeded section.  Either way works!  And speaking of plant beds, Mandy intends to amend her soil with her very own compost.  Didn’t I tell you she’s serious about this business of gardening?  Oh, let me tell me you, she is so serious.  I mean, when a woman doesn’t rip out a cactus from her garden because she’s not sure if she can eat this particular variety or not, you know you have a woman intent on edible landscape.

I see a cactus?  I’m pulling it out before it pokes me!  But back to the compost.  She started an outdoor pile a while back before deciding to go high-tech.  She purchased this nifty do-it-all-for-you composter and now uses it for all her composting needs.  Side by side, it looks rather intimidating compared to the simple ease of tossing your scraps and leaves into a big pile (like I do).

Until you see the kind of dirt this thing can churn out–and this after only 6 weeks!  That’s black gold, baby and oh-so-ready to be pulled out and tilled in. 

Yep, you better believe it.  There’s no better way to begin a new garden bed than with a scoop full of this stuff!  Maybe we should refer to this as black magic from here on out.  The results she’ll see with this organic rich material will surely make her a believer. 

Stay tuned and watch her progress or better yet–why not join in the fun?  You’ll be amazed at how EASY this gardening thing can be.