Imagine the joy of this past Saturday. The sun was shining. The sky was a vibrant blue. Birds were chirping. It warmed up to a positively balmy 50 degrees. The snow had completely disappeared. Now imagine today’s disappointment when I awoke to see another dusting of snow outside!
Mentally, we are definitely done with Winter. I’m not sure what has all the sudden pushed us past the tipping point here in our household. Maybe it’s the cabin fever talking but regardless of the reason, we want to see an end to our current season.
I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by burying myself with a pile of colorful and always enticing seed catalogs. It makes me not only feel better but provides a little glimmer of hope that I will one day be back outside, enjoying the warmth and sunshine while laboring or simply enjoying our garden.
As you probably remember from previous posts, I’ve been toiling with my vegetable gardening “method” for the year. Historically, our little family of three has moved just about every year, going from one rental to the next. That won’t happen this year since we’ve actually solidified our existence and purchased a house. Now we can put down some more permanent roots in our garden as well.
Last Fall, I took some time and read Lasagna Gardening. I’ve known for awhile that no-till gardens are much more environmentally friendly and figured Patricia Lanza’s book might be enough to spur me in the no-till direction when planning our permanent veggie garden. About halfway through her book though, I was frustrated. What I needed to know, the way to lasagna garden, was literally two paragraphs worth of material in the beginning of the book. Lay down a thick layer of newspaper to smother weeds and grass and then simply pile up loose, friable, organically supreme soil for your garden beds was the basic gist. I’m glad I only checked the book out at the library and didn’t waste the money buying her book. It was perfect for a beginning gardener who might be discovering this new found hobby but not for me.
I felt like I didn’t have many other options though and tried to mentally design how this lasagna garden would look in my backyard. Our yard is already small and so I was really only looking to expand my vegetable space to about 19 feet by 12 feet, a little more than 200 square feet. I started looking for cast-offs from everyone’s front yard, Fall decorations: straw bales. Lanza’s soil mix suggests straw as a good component to help build your raised beds up above the original soil surface. The idea is that the straw will compost with your other organics and produce a top-notch soil.
As Winter pushed deeper into the calendar, my straw bales sat untouched, well at least by me. Dixie, our doofy but lovable dog, has been smart enough to use the straw bales as a warming perch this winter. Every morning she sits with a yoga-like patience atop those bales, warms herself in the early morning sun and keeps watch for the mouser cat Haley to wander back from her early walk to eat breakfast. The more Dixie sits, the more the straw bales break down making it easier to spread into future garden beds but frankly she seemed to be getting more use out of it as a makeshift sundeck.
Knowing my yearning to pick something, my wife gently nudged me in one direction with a little Valentine’s Day present. It was Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space. His concept, ditching the inefficient practice of gardening in long single rows, made much more sense for our tiny backyard. I haven’t blogged a bit lately, in part because I’ve spent the past seven days reading Bartholomew’s book from cover to cover and embarked on the design process of our own square foot garden. Check back tomorrow for more on how I designed our 2010 vegetable garden and what I’ve been able to get done so far. Hopefully it will trigger you to start planning your own and make the most of your garden space and your wallet!
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