Monday, January 23, 2012

It has begun...

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later knowing how much of my past has been caught up in this thing.  The garden of 2012 is off to a roaring start.  The roaring is mainly me after spending hour upon hour 'getting the beds ready' which is just another term for 'tear everything up you did last year and start all over again'.

Some people spend January feeling the aches and pains of their newly resolved exercise regimes.  I feel the aches and pains of my gardening.   Hey, who needs a gym when you can simply move several tons of earth. And then move it again because it needs to be over there.  And then move it again because you have to make sure the soil is just right...  and again because you need to add some amendment to the soil.  Then you are ready to move it again in small quantities as you plant and weed and pull the things out that died and then replant with other things.

They say that those who do the same thing over and over again while expecting different outcomes are crazy.  That about explains gardening.

Currently my project involves redoing the 'new' garden area we put in last year.  This year I decided that the 6 x 6 ft beds were too wide and they would be better as 3 x 6 ft beds.  I also decided there was not nearly enough room between the beds and the wooden fence and between the beds and the wire dog proof fence.  No problem.  All I needed to do was divide the six foot beds in half, put 22 inch walkways between the wooden fence and the beds, between each bed and between the beds and the dog proof fence.

This of course meant dismantling every single raised bed and moving half the soil 22 inches to the left or right then removing about 7 inches of soil from the fence line.  I also decided to make stable pathways between each bed which means moving many, many, many paving stones from where they currently reside through a long and unsteady path to the garden.  I also wanted to stabilize the raised beds with ceder frames, so each bed needed to be precisely three feet wide by six feet long because that works with the ceder fence slats we have.  Getting soil to maintain a specific size is a chore all its own.

My neurosis did not end there as I decided that not only would I redo the beds already in existence, but also add in 4 new beds, bringing the total of beds along the wooden fence to 11.  I have a feeling that before it is all over the 11 is going to become 12 because, well, 12 is such a nice number and after your body is already overcome with intense soil busting pain, what is another four or five hours of back-breaking labor?

I have currently completed beds number 7, 8, 1 and 9.  This means they have wooden frames and three of them also have been planted.  Here is the proof in beds seven and eight:

Look - it's an onion bed!

And what a sorry looking onion bed it is.  You will have to trust me that it looked much, much better the first 24 hours after I planted it and amended the soil with blood meal which provides a nice nitrogen boost that onions love.  Unfortunately other things love blood meal too.  I had anticipated the sweet little-big Border Collie wanting to partake of this delicacy so I had stressed to my husband how we should make sure she did not get past the dog proof fence.

I forgot to insist that the same rule apply to the opossums or whatever malicious bastard painstakingly dug up every single onion sprout I had lovingly planted.  Ah the joy of replanting the now worse for wear sprouts.  If you look closely you can see them lying in a state of downtrodden malaise along the outer lengths of the bed - yes those hair like green wilted looking things.  The bigger green onions are some that I found miraculously growing in another garden area (now dismantled) that survived the horrific drought of 2011.  As you can see they are prostrate with grief over my having moved them to a better location.

Radishes! - the gardeners friend.

Here is bed number eight which is currently hosting various greens (there in the background) and also Radishes!  Radishes! are a gardeners best friend because they sprout in like about seven minutes and just look at them - over planted but loving it!.  How can you not be happy, happy, happy when seeing how eager Radishes! are to spring into life.  I don't really even like Radishes! that much but I plant them every year because at least I can grow Radishes!

Bed number one I just planted with seeds this evening and of course there is a very heavy downpour expected tomorrow.  This means that at the crack of dawn I am going to have to go out and cover up the bed with a sheet or something to keep the seeds from being washed out of the bed.  I also need to cover over the partially constructed beds to try and keep the soil mounded in the somewhat six foot by three foot shapes.  I don't have enough paving stones around the beds yet, but what I do have is freshly turned soil which is guaranteed to turn into a sinking abyss of mud. 

Yes, it is only January and I am already feeling the every present NEED of the garden taking over my life.

This brings me to something I was pondering as I was digging my tenth cubic yard of dirt (weight estimate at 1700 lbs per cubic yard).  Most people have not the foggiest idea of the kind of labor it takes to grow food.  When I mention to people that I garden, they usually assume I plant flowers and when they hear about all the vegetables I plant each year they usually say "How many acres do you have?"  Less than one.  We 'farm' in a 50 foot by 70 or so foot of earth.  We certainly don't grow everything we eat, but we do grow enough we can share with friends and family.  Considering that we are able to produce quite a bit of food from a relatively small area - and if we really were relying on this for our food, we could turn quite a bit more of our backyard into 'farmland' - I wonder why more people don't help themselves out by gardening some of  what they eat.

Then of course I snap out of it and realize that most people, upon finding out what kind of labor intensive work small gardening consist of, would be mentally healthy enough to avoid it like the plague.

Ah well, at least I have Radishes!

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