On Saturday I got my first load of Phoenixville Borough compost delivered to my garden by my Dad (thanks Dad). It was first piled all into one of the raised beds, but I spent a few hours on Sunday spreading it out between the two new beds. You can see that it is pretty rough stuff, with lots of sticks and woody pieces mixed in.

As I moved it around though I tried to sift through it and remove most of the woody chunks while leaving the good stuff behind.

In the picture below you can see the other raised bed filled out with compost. Behind that, on an angle, you can see another small, new bed that I have set aside for the rhubarb plants when they arrive.

My last project of Sunday involved this forlorn little weedy/ grassy patch back near the compost pile. I planted a few blackberry plants here 2 years back, they have to take off- but I'm still holding out hope.

It's a big space and I'm hoping to plant some winter squash here this year, but the soil is a bit to shallow and root-filled to dig much compost into. So I am trying a technique that I've read about but never tried myself.

The area that I going to plant I covered with a thick layer of old cardboard. Later on I'll use chopped leaves and more compost to cover the cardboard with a good 5--6 inches of organic material. The idea is that the cardboard will block out any weeds that are present, and then eventually just break down into the soil. Thats the idea anyway. The logs on top of the cardboard are just there to hold it down until I get the compost to cover it up.


Tomato Seeds Started

I used this afternoon to get my tomato seeds going in my little peat-plug seed starting kit. I didn't take many pictures this time because I documented the process pretty well last year, and this went pretty much the same. I am trying seven varieties this year, and they are: Aunt Ruby's German Green, San Marzano, Amish Paste, Cherokee Purple, Sungold, Red Brandywine, and Flamme.

2010 Season Underway

This past weekend brought on the start of a new growing season. Even though the weather was unusualy warm for this early in the spring (70+ and sunny), I went by the traditional Saint Patricks day planting date to get my first seeds in the ground. This year in addition to peas I used my first planting date to also get Lettuce, Chard and Potatoes in the ground. All of these seeds are able to be planted "as soon as the ground can be worked" and should have no problem with the cooler, wetter weather during the next few weeks.

The peas I planted into two of the new raised beds in the background of this picture.

Instead of making a more formal trellis structure for the peas to grow on, this year I just stuck some sticks into the ground in a loose tipi shape.

I took a few pictures of my potato planting technique this year. Not because I know what I am doing, but this way if things don't go wellI can look back and see where it all went terribly wrong.

I try to avoid the temptation to clean the beds off and tidy things up too much and instead allow the leaves to be worked into the soil over time. This is the potato bed prepped and ready to go.

Trench dug about 6 inches deep.

Seed potatoes placed in the trench with most of the "eyes" facing up.

The trench filled over with the potatoes safely tucked in for the season. Happy growing!


A Real Spring Day

Many of the seeds that I ordered have arrived, with more showing up in the mail just today. I spent some time today continuing to frame out the new raised beds and added some composted manure to the soil in preparation for pea planting- hopefully next weekend.

Incidentally, it was sunny and 65 today. Summer can't come soon enough.


Plans, part 2

I wanted to make a list of garden plans and projects for the coming season that did not fall under the last post that I did about which varieties I'll be planting (many of which have already changed by the way.)

Raised Beds- I have plans to increase the size of and improve the quality of the garden's raised beds. This is one project that is already started as I took a trip to Lowes yesterday and got some lumber to start the framing. In addition to bed frames I also want to try to build up the beds themselves by adding as much organic matter as possible- possibly from the newly discovered municipal compost facility.

Compost Heap- This one is basic, and to be honest should have been one of the first things I set out to do when I started the garden a few years back. Right now my "compost heap" is just a pile of wet leaves and other yard detritus shoved in the back corner of the garden. While technically this stuff will break down into compost eventually it could take years to become true valuble garden compost. I want to build a proper framed compost bin, and also pay more attention to makeup of the pile itself, and turning it etc. to aid in faster break down.

Large Trellis- One of the ever present eyes-sores of the garden is the fact that it backs up to a neighboring parking lot and dumpster (yes, a dumpster.) My hope for this year is to put 5-6 foot tall trellis/fence along that side of the garden effectively improving the view, while also providing some vertical growing space.

Perrenial Vegetables- I like the idea of planting something that will be there to harvest not just later the same year, but for many years to come. This year I am investing some extra time and money to plant asparagus and rhubarb. Both being long term providers that should be viable for a long, long time.

Chickens- Yes, chickens. Although this one is still only a possibility, I may be able to acquire a few grown hens from a relative who is looking to thin their small flock. Backyard chickens/ ducks has always been a daydream of mine- and it looks like I may have the chance to give it a go. Fresh eggs!

There are a few other minor tweaks to my overall gardening techniques that I want to try this year, but the items already mentioned are the bigger projects that I am hoping to complete.


Melting, Mold and Signs of Life

With the many layers of snow at last melted I am finally getting to see the yard and garden for the first time in weeks. Garden plans are seeming more realistic now that I can actually see the beds, and I spent my first afternoon working outside today.

I also ordered my first seeds of the season this week, and I hope to work on expanding some of raised beds during the coming weeks.

I never took any pictures of it before, but in the fall I set up a "leaf mold" area. Leaf mold is just fallen (in this case shredded) leaves that are allowed to break down into a compost-like consistency. It doesn't have the same nutrient rich qualities of true compost, but it'll be good for mulching and adding some substance to the soil.

I just thought I'd note that a few early spring bulbs are actually emerging. Finally.