...Or rather, How doesn't it???
This is the third time in a month that I've sat down to write this post. My apologies for being such a slacker! I'm including all attempts at writing this, mostly for my own memories, and hopefully you'll enjoy it also. You see, I very recently had a baby, and my time has been consumed by all things newborn. I am amazed at how much energy it takes to care for such a small thing, and before I go any further, I want to thank our families for all their support and help during the past month. Thank you!
Written on April 12, 2010:
Phew, it has been a LONG time since my last post. Unacceptable, but truthfully, I've not had that much to write about. The end of the winter is usually a stale few months of glum for me, and I generally slack off on reading recipes, being creative, or doing any type of brainstorming. I guess I sort of hibernate. This winter's been a bit different, what with a baby in the belly and all, and I have been preoccupied with other to-do's (such as cleaning, preparing for baby, and eating ice cream). In March, however, I decided it was time to plan my garden and on April 1, I started prepping, weeding and planting. I've been out almost every day since then, planting seeds, planting pansies, watering, re-planting seeds that the birds thought I hid in the ground for them to find, weeding flower beds, watering some more, and other general garden tasks.
Last year was my first experience in using the square-foot gardening method, which you can read all about here, and I must say that prepping the beds for this growing season was effortless and enjoyable. I could barely reach into the center of the beds, as the huge belly has really been taking up extra space, but I think I prepped for less than an hour. I removed the grids from the top, added some compost, and turned over the beds. I re-strung the grids (and recruited David for when I got too tired), and planted my first seeds of the season...peas, of course! Even though I was technically about 2 or so weeks behind pea-planting schedule, I was still psyched. This is the first year I've been prepared early enough in the season to plant peas! In the past, it was easily the end of April before I realized I'd missed my window of opportunity. I also planted two lovely types of radishes and some beets. But enough about that, let's discuss how I began planning my vegetable garden...
Square foot gardening, like any gardening, takes some pre-planting planning, and, short of harvesting what I've planted, I think the planning process is at the top of my "fun list", as far as gardening is concerned (at the bottom, for example, is finding fat earthworms and those slimy-looking million-legged bugs with pincers on their tails in the dirt. Ick.) I begin my planning process as soon as my garden is cleaned out for the winter, but I let the thoughts marinate in my brain for a few months. Then, in March, I sit down with a book or two, a notebook that I keep updated with yearly garden notes (such as planting dates, actual plans of where I planted what veggie, what and where I purchased seeds/seedlings), and I officially plan out what I'm going to grow. This is a great way for me to stay organized, however, I lost my book from the past two years, so I had to start fresh. Frustrating, but I got over it.
I started my new 2010 plans with a list of what I wanted to have growing this year. Since we've signed up for our second season at Mountain View CSA, I knew there was basically no reason to plant certain veggies; We'll get plenty and I'll be busier than usual this season. No need to grow kale, chard, squash, and peppers. I also decided that while growing potatoes last year was awesome, it was not happening again this year. We just don't eat enough potatoes to keep up with any sort of harvest. After David's ridiculous purchase of two huge bags of potatoes this past fall (I think we ate maybe 10 potatoes total from both bags...and the rest is now compost), plus the potatoes I harvested from the garden, AND the sweet potatoes from the 100 lbs of veggies from our CSA that we picked up in November, I just don't trust our potato-consumption ability.
I decided to plant:
Mixed Greens for late in the summer when we get less greens from the CSA
a mess of herbs, because I like going out and picking what I need when I need it
and, of course, Tomatoes. Fingers crossed this year is better than last!
I figured this was a good start.
Normally, I'd be all ambitious and start my seeds indoors in egg cartons that I've saved, but this year I was made to promise that I'd take it easy and purchase seedlings or only start plants from seeds if they could be planted directly outside.
Skip to May 4,2010:
I'm finishing this post! Here's what's happened since April 12:
I had a baby. My prenatally induced cleaning frenzies, organizational craziness, and all of my plans, plans, plans have been tossed out the proverbial window. I am now cultivating relationships and nourishing a sweet little baby. And it's taking up ALL of my time and my gardens are suffering. Birds and squirrels have dined on seeds that I planted, and dig daily in my once-neat garden beds. I have cilantro growing in the boxes that are also home to my onions, and I think I missed the opportunity to pull out my first bunch of french breakfast radishes.
Luckily, just prior to giving birth, I managed to mulch and weed all of my flower beds, plant some early annuals, and marvel at some beautiful tulips and daffodils that had blossomed.
Skip to May 14, 2010:
This is IT! I am finishing this darned post. Last week I made the decision, with the help of my Mother-in-Law, to grow flowers in the open squares of my garden. She planted seeds in the garden for me as I looked on and 'directed'. I also decided to grow multiple items in the same squares, as really, this square foot thing is cool but why can't I mess with the neatness and spice things up a bit? I left the rogue cilantro plants with the onions. Onions and cilantro can cohabitate this year. I'm growing more radishes where the tomatoes will live once the weather warms enough to guarantee the plants won't die, and in those same squares, I'm growing the lettuce mix. When the radishes are gone and I plant the tomatoes behind the lettuces, I am hoping the tomato plants will provide enough shade to the lettuce to let them thrive throughout the summer. We will see...it's all an experiment! I don't know what I'll do in the squares that now house the other radishes and beets, but I think I'll be flying by the seat of my pants this summer. I can no longer organize or control much of anything at this point, so I might as well just enjoy the ride!