Fall is here, time to GARDEN!

9 11 2007

November 9, 2007

Fall is HERE! It is getting dark out nice and early (by 5:30 it’s pitch black outside… :) ) I love fall. I love that it is time to start nesting. I get to hole up in the house, cook delicious meals, make things cozy and comfy, and dream about long winter nights turning into brisk spring days. In the spirit of spring being right around the corner in terms of time left to putter in the garden, I have scheduled my Sunday into a manic panic gardening day: I want to wake up early and rake all of the leaves out of our lawn and collect them into lawn bags for the compost pile and for mulch. Next, I am going to spread a thick, thick layer of newspaper where I want to put in beds next year, and weigh it down with branches and rocks and bricks. Then I am going to borrow my boyfriend’s dad’s truck and take our dog and head up to the farm that I used to work at and collect a truckload of used horse bedding and manure. I am going to go home, spread that on the current bed, and on top of the newspaper where next years beds are going to go. Then I am going to go back to the farm and get a truckload of spoiled straw to throw on top of all the manure. Whatever I have leftover will also go in the yard bags to add to my compost throughout the year. At some point I am going to have to let the dog sniff and roll in all of this manure, and he might eat some of it, too. But that is fine by me. I have this practically limitless supply of fertilizer and mulch for free. I would be crazy to pass it up just because the dog might think it is a delectable treat. :)

The way I see it, I can’t really complain about the (very) high cost of fresh, organic, in-season produce unless I am willing to garden a bit and do something about it. I have a job, my debt is getting paid down, and my boyfriend is excited about having less lawn to mow in the long run. I will be able to by some nicer gardening tools next spring instead of using crappy, old, dull ones. I will also have the resources to invest in some organic pesticide help. I am starting small this year. Up front we are replanting the bed with herbs and decorative flowers. In the back, I am planting some berries (pretty much plant and forget type plants), and then two beds that will be 2’x6′. The following year I want to add on to our beds by making them 3’x6′ and adding a third bed. We’ll see. I will get that third bed going in the spring, and just plant something like hairy vetch or alfalfa, till it under in the fall, add more manure and it will be ready to go the next spring. It seems like a lot of work, but it is so worth it when you have beds that will need little extra fertilizer during the growing year.

Our backyard is pretty steeply sloped, so I am going to use cinder blocks to raise them up to a proper level next spring. I am not too worried about it at this point; I just want to get the grass killed off, and the manure and mulch on. That can sit and break down over the winter, and next spring I will raise the bed and fill them up with compost and more manure. I will let it sit for a few more weeks, and at that point it should be ready for some plants.

During January, February and March, I want to start stockpiling tools, cinder blocks, starting seeds, and building trellises. I am really excited by the prospect of vertical gardening. It will save space, make harvesting and pest removal and weeding easier, and, I think, be prettier. It will also take advantage of the little bit of sunlight that we do get in the backyard. Our hill is between a row of pine trees below (tp the north) and a couple of big houses above (to the south.) It does get pretty intense sunlight in the summer, but only for a few hours, so I need to take advantage of it by gardening vertically.

I would also like to spend the winter reading up a little bit on permaculture. Specifically, I would like to read “Gaia’s Garden”. I heard it is pretty good, if a little preachy about taking care of the earth. No need to preach to the choir!

Honestly, I am hoping that all of this will benefit not only Scott and I, but my daughter, too. I want her to appreciate eating whole, healthy, organic food. I don’t want her little body to start filling up with chemical laden garbage. Organic isn’t for me. Organic is for her, and her babies. What she eats now while her body is growing and forming will affect her health for the rest of her life, and her children’s health for their entire lives. On top of all that, I can’t have a garden in the back yard, and then spray it with a bunch of chemicals. What about the birds and the bugs, and our dog and cat that go out there. I don’t want that bad stuff getting into their systems, either.

I think that is about it for now. I will be taking some before, during and after pictures of the new beds, and will try to post them next week.

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