Saturday, February 21, 2009

I have been bitten!

Garden Fever is here. Yesterday we had our first falling of wet spring snow...perfect for me to go stomp out lines where I want the additional raised beds, plus the conversion of the last traditional style garden space into raised beds.
I have been perusing seed catalogs and making my lists, mapping out the garden and such. This is the time for doing that ladies and gentleman, for zone 4. I am not a seeder. I rarely start my own seeds, I have poor lighting and quite frankly the cats are a nuisance with playing in them, walking on them and sleeping on them!! My 6 year old does have some chia growing that they leave alone. Way back when I worked for a greenhouse here in town, a few customers would pre order what they needed for spring in the way of planting.
I have 2 compost areas.
#1. A mix of straw, leaves, some chopped garden residue and fairly fresh manure we piled up last fall and let sit through the winter. This will go into my existing beds and new beds.
#2. A tumbler filling up with vegetable waste etc from the kitchen over the winter. Its not cooked down as we freeze hard here, well below -20. It is just a place to put the scraps for now.

I garden in this way and have been for 8 years....and its how Edward C Smith proposes you do it. Mr. Smith has just put it into book form. The Vegetable Bible. Dick Raymond is another garden guru that I thoroughly enjoy as well.
Wide rows, my minimum row width is 3 feet.
Organic, as much as possible. I have never had an infestation of any sort in my garden. I also take advantage of "companion planting" to let nature do it for me. I have had infestations of aphids in my Snowball Lilac...I just watch it, for them spreading...aphids bring lady bugs and last year we had lots of ladybugs. The snowball lilac is sacrificial and I would rather they go there than in my garden. I do wish a toad would come take up residence. We had one years ago and it scared the beejeezus out of me when he scurried through the lettuce so darn fast I thought it was a snake and I started hacking like crazy with the escaped, left me clutching my heart when he hopped out. I think he said "see ya later you crazy old bat, I will go where my services are needed" or the cats got him. I shall prescribe to "build it and they will come"...a toad house that is!
Raised beds....this is hands down one of the reasons I garden as much as I do. Its easier, you are not wasting time watering, weeding, rototilling the paths in between. My paths happen to be gravel. I like it neat and clean. The gravel also absorbs heat. In fact 90% of my garden is raised beds with gravel all around. Photobucket
Deep soil, a good mix of topsoil, compost and sand.
Mulch....mulch like a banshee come just before the hottest part of the summer...all my beds get mulched with leaves, straw, hay or dried grass clippings. Conserves water and keeps those roots cool.
Water: I have always hand watered my garden, its time consuming so this year I want soaker hoses or design a system that allows for watering at the flick of a switch. I will free up my time for maintaining my garden and enjoying it. So if you have a few raised beds, hand watering is fine. I am more than doubling the garden so its time for a system.

Wrap up any projects left, you too gals, get your houses in order so we can go outside and play in the dirt!!!

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