With everyone at home this spring, I’m sure there are plenty of new gardens going in. This one started with a stray comment to my daughter. She didn’t want to help in the yard (even to make some $$) and I told her that if things ever get tough, she may need to help grow food to eat. I figured she would just tell me to work harder (like her mom would ), but she responded “OK- can we start now?”
So we took a walk around the yard to look at the beds that I had already made and figure out what to plant. When we got to the old playground, she was excited and told me we should do something with all this space. It probably helps that she has long out-grown it and even her younger sister is a bit old for it.
A couple years ago I planted grape vines around the structure, but didn’t do much else, other than attempting to grow tomatoes through the woodchips last year. Most didn’t grow very well, so I figured we would need more drastic changes before it could be productive.
We started out by her removing the debris, like cardboard (used as mulch for the tomatoes) and heavy items which had held them in place. Meanwhile, I took most of the boards off the play-structure, to ensure it didn’t unnecessarily shade the garden (her idea). The basic frame was left in place for the grapes, which I tied up.
We then spend an afternoon where we both raked up as many weeds and woodchips as we could get. The weeds (like crab-grass) were thrown on the lawn for the mower to deal with, while the woodchips were put on nearby plants as mulch.
Once all (most of) the surface debris was removed, we used an electric roto-tiller to mix the soil. Anytime I was able to go very deep, there were a lot of rocks. The small ones were mostly tossed to the side, but some were too big for it to move and had to be done by hand. There were 2 which were just the right size to move, yet not make it through the tiller. In one case, I had to take it apart to get the rock out. This pic is when it is upside down, with the rock trapped between the tines and the top-shield.
Eventually, we got it all tilled, though there are parts where we went deeper than others. Maybe in future years, we can get it more fully cleared of rocks.
The next day, we came back to plant some seeds. That day, we planted:
- Carrot (Purple Haze and Rainbow mix)
- Radish (Sparkler & Cherry Belle)
- Bush beans
- Some red-leafed Chinese veggie
Still to come:
- Lots of potatoes
- Pole beans
This is the first time I’ve grown many of these (potatoes, tomatoes, and beans are the normal items). The new additions are at my daughter’s prompting, after some online research.
Some of the seeds (from Home Depot, like the tiller):
Rather than getting rid of them, we used the old planks from the playground structure to both delineate the planting areas, and provide a place we can walk on (again, her idea).
This week, the Purple Passion asparagus arrived from Nourse farms. They were so large that we weren’t able to fit them in the area we had set out. After all, you can’t really space them 6-8" apart if the roots are over a foot wide. Now, I need to figure out what to do with 8 more asparagus roots.
Here she is holding the asparagus bouquet:
My daughter helped a lot during this process, but I think that sustained effort is pretty difficult for teenagers. Here’s a pic of her working, while I dug out some big rocks that we found when making the asparagus trenches.