Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recap of a Big Gardening Weekend

Wow. We got a LOT done on the garden this weekend.
We finished planting all but one of the square foot beds. The last one we're going to save for some late-season crops.
We got all of the tomato and pepper plants in the ground. We had originally started them indoors, and began hardening them off about 2 weeks ago.
We also got the sunflowers, melons, pumpkins, cabbages, and squashes all planted. Yay!
It was a total team effort. Even Thing #3 helped:
"Hi Dad! I'm just gonna borrow your gloves and
wheelbarrow for a  bit...."

To set out the squares, we used a very sophisticated combination of pencils and scrapbooking paper, combining for perfect 12x12 squares.
Using the square foot gardening method required us to
mark off actual square feet.
Once the squares were pencil-marked, it was time to plant.
Peppers and tomatoes, started in cups,
and ready for transplant!
First, we spent the time getting the tomatoes and peppers in the ground. They had been started in styrofoam cups, and it was time to transplant them.
Wife dug out holes in the garden beds and actually did the transplanting. I think (I'm not sure) that there were about 70 total tomato and pepper plants. This took her most of Saturday.
Meanwhile, I was busy finishing off the last 3 square foot beds. I had built 5 before. The beds involved laying a 4-foot by 8-foot frame of 1-to-2-inch-thick sticks. I had get the saws out and cut them off the fallen tree pile that we left when clearing space for the orchard.
Between picking off the ticks and laying out the beds, I went out to the manure bin and scraped the last remnants of donkey compost out from the bin. I used the compost to fill in the beds - about a wheelbarrow's full of compost per bed. I used the rake to spread it around (mostly) evenly.
The next step in the bed construction was to cover it. I spread out about 25 gallons of pine chips on top of each bed, to both mix in and cover the beds to assist in moisture retention. Last year, the top layer of soil in our raised beds got really, really crispy, and the crops suffered severely. This year, we are employing a hybrid scheme involving using a wood chip covering.
Building the last four square foot beds.
After building the remaining beds, I went to work measuring and setting the sunflower, cabbage, and squash areas. The same ideas on covering applied, but they're not traditional square foot beds. So I just spread the chips out evenly to retain moisture in the whole area.
I also worked on setting up some trellises for the peas and cucumbers to work with. They had all started sprouting from our first garden planting.I took some bamboo poles and some field fencing remnants to set the trellises up. I'll do the same for the melons when they've sprouted.
The pea and cucumber trellises, with stakes for individual tomato plants in the background.
On into Monday, we were still working.
We got the rest of the beds fully planted (save the one). We also got the rows of pumpkin, squashes (zucchini and butternut), melons, cabbages, and a sunflower patch finalized and covered.
After a weekend's worth of labor, we sat back and enjoyed the view:
Our hybrid garden after a weekend spent finishing the chipping and planting.
Now we just keep it moist and wait for things to grow!

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