Garden Prepping

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I am feeling pretty good after having my first weekend available to spend some time in the garden.  After the winter we had, I was questioning if I would even see the ground without snow on it in April.  Time to start the garden prepping and the spring garden chores (and some fall ones I never got around too).

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Em was kind enough to rake out our front “Broken Brick Flower Garden.”  This garden is on the front of our house and lined with broken bricks that were recycled from the old front stoop of the house.  It isn’t fancy and it is not meant to be.  This patch is loaded with perennial flowers passed down from Em’s mom and mine.  We have hostas and orange daylillies that my mom had originally planted on the side of the house.  Em’s mom has gifted us with white phlox, yellow daylillies, irises, and false sunflower.

We have purchased coneflowers and shasta daisys for the garden but that is about it. We mostly rely on the kindness of others to build our flower garden!  This year I plan to move some chives up into this garden as mine are 3 years old now and could use some separation.  We also have a tons of wild strawberry in the woods behind our house and my plan is to dig some up and make a patch in this garden.  Hopefully in no time at all this garden will be coming to life.  The only thing I plan to purchase for this garden is a couple bags of mulch.

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Out back in the vegetable garden I started some clean up.  I left all 34 rows covered with landscape fabric over winter.  Not so much on purpose but more out of being to lazy to put it away.  In the end I think my selfishness paid off as the soil under was already warm and loaded with worms. I have read that providing a cover of mulch like hay over a garden in winter helps keep worms alive and I believe leaving the fabric did the same thing.  Every inch of soil I turned over had worms scurrying through it.

On the slope down to the main part of garden I put the landscape fabric back down rotating the fabric from row to row so I would be planting in different holes then last year.  I put the fabric back on this section because the grade is to steep for the rototiller.  When I plant in them, I will dig out a hole through the fabric really well and mix in compost before planting.  When looking at the photo above the slope rows are the ones with fabric back over them and in the layout below they are rows 9 through 23 (24-26 have not been created yet – they will be new this year).

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I received a decent amount of help from maniac #1 (Norah) putting the fabric back over those rows.  She took one end and I did the other and we held them in place with other recycled bricks from the front stoop or rocks we have dug out of the garden.  After the rows are planted hay will go over the fabric for extra mulch and because I think it looks way better.  I got about 20 minutes of work out of Norah – which puts her already on pace to quadruple the time she spent helping me last year!   20 minutes later – she was back to being a maniac…

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Rows almost ready for zucchini, tomatoes, and other goodies!

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The main part of the garden will be rototilled in the next few weeks time permitting.  Before I do that though we raked leaves and lawn trimmings (left over from fall) over the garden to act like a blanket for the next few weeks.  Once it is time to till we will till the leaves and grass right into the garden.

I will not lay any other compost down before tilling.  These 17 rows (rows 27-43 in the diagram) all have about 1 foot paths between them and I do not want to waste expensive compost on the pathways. So to keep costs down I till in our own organic compost in the form of leaves and grass trimmings then I will outline the actual beds and rake in some compost before covering back up with landscape fabric.  In addition to that when I dig the holes for plants through fabric I will include another little shovel of compost into the hole the plant goes into.

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Above is what I will till into the garden – leftover bits of hay, leaves, and grass trimmings.  One downside to leaving the fabric on the garden all winter was I lost some of the rows to animal damage.  Once I saw a squirrel ripping strips of it off to get at something underneath so I will have to replace a few more rows then I had hoped for but I can deal with that. I was budgeting for 1-2 more rolls of the stuff which should cover me.  All the fabric on the sloped rows I was able to reuse so I am happy about that.

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Chives have doubled in size in the last week

I also finished replanting seeds that hadn’t sprouted for me indoors yet. So I feel like I am making good progress.  Next up – tilling the main part of the garden.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.