Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Secret Naysayer!!!

Well, I spoke to the man with the tiller.  He confirmed what the Co-op said, a regular tiller does not have the power to get the job done. It will just bounce off of the hard Tennessee clay.  In his opinion, he would have to bring some kind of industrial farm equipment (albeit small industrial farm equipment) to my house ($).  Then, he would have to take down a couple sections of my fence ($$) and he would have to remove at least one - sunk into the ground and secured with concrete - fencepost so that said farm equipment will fit into my backyard ($$$).  He suggested that I use a raised garden bed this year to make sure that I really like gardening.  Can you just hear the "little lady" implied here.  It is a very rational idea, but I know what I want.  He is a secret naysayer!!!!  To summarize, the man with the tiller is no longer an option and I am left with tilling the ground myself since I don't have one of these.

To complicate matters, the growing days are flying by and I need to get the seeds in the dirt now. There is no way that I can till 600 sq. ft. by myself in time to get the seeds in the ground before the growing season is over.  So, I have decided to go with the "little lady" raised garden bed this summer.  My garden area has now decreased to a pitiful 32 sq. ft. plus an assortment of pots.  However, I am also going to prepare the rest of the garden area by covering it with plastic.  I still don't know how many toxins will leach into the soil by doing this.  Hopefully, time and a lot of good amending will take care of them. 

The Herbs Are Up!!

I am so excited!!  My herb plants have begun to sprout.  All of them!




It may seem odd that I am so happy about such tiny things, but I have a very "brown" thumb.  I have never been able to grow plants before.  I am just really encouraged that green things are coming out of the dirt.  I was so afraid that I would be staring at that brown potting soil all summer. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Since there has been a little break from the rain today, I decided to dig my compost pit.  It was going really well. I was digging away, working hard. I had even hit that point where your body sends out endorphins, nature's opiates, so that you don't notice how strenuous the work you are doing is. Then, "Oops!"  I cut a wire with my shovel.  I don't know what kind of wire it is.  Phone and cable are still working at home and at the neighbors.  At least I didn't hit a gas line. 

I decided to just keep digging around the wire.  I'll call whomever to fix it when I find out what it is for.  Then I ran into snag #2.  I ran out of places to put the dirt around the pit.  I don't have a wheelbarrow so I started loading dirt into an old trashcan so that I could haul the dirt to another part of the yard.  However, when I went to drag the trashcan, I couldn't.  I am not strong enough.  Even my endorphins can't make me stronger.  Game called on account of weakness.  I'll just have to wait until the teenager comes home. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Preparing the Soil a.k.a. OMG!

Since it is raining today, I decided to do a little research on soil preparation.  OMG! Who knew it would be so laborious.  I thought that you just put the seeds in the ground and watched them grow. (I know, a collective "Duh!" is in order.)  Before I can even prepare the soil, I have to get rid of the grass.  I found out that there are three basic options for doing this. 

First, I can spray the entire area with an herbicide, e.g. RoundUp, effectively killing all the grass, but also polluting my garden with the very chemicals that I would like to avoid in my food.  Option one is out.

My second option is solarization.  This involves covering the garden area with plastic and letting it sit for 4 to 6 weeks while the heat kills the grass, weed, etc.  I like that there is no herbicide, but I will be losing a lot of growing time.  Plus, I don't know what kind of toxins may be leeching into the soil from the plastic.  I need to do more research before I decide about this option.

My third option is to till the grass under.  This is a daunting task for me and my shovel given the soil conditions in Tennessee.  We have clay, clay, and more clay.  I called the Foothills Farmers Co-op to see about renting a tiller. I found out that the tillers they have available are too small for the job and will just bounce off the soil.  They did, however, give me the name of someone who has much larger equipment.  He is going to come by and take a look at what I am doing and make some suggestions.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

The old trampoline is now gone.  It took a lot of time, a small adjustable wrench and a little sweat equity.  There were also a few girlie screams as I encountered an assortment of God's precious creatures and a rather embarrassing screech when I found a jumping spider which has now gone to meet its maker. 

I staked out my garden plot and mowed it to make sure that I like the placement and I do.  It gets sun from morning until evening.  Now I just have to figure out how to prepare the soil so that I can start planting.

I didn't dig the compost pit today.  I still can't decide where to put it.  I am trying to balance between adequate sunshine for composting and distance to avoid offending the neighbors.  I will have to decide soon because I started gathering scraps and they really need to go in the ground.

I did get to plant my herbs today.  I had soaked them overnight per the instructions on the cute little packets. Then, I put them in 12 in. terracotta pots.  I wanted to make sure that they have plenty of room to grow.  I just hope that the pots aren't too big.  I also found that a spoon is much better tool for removing minuscule seeds, e.g. oregano, from the soaking cups than your finger.

A few weeks ago, I bought several quarts of strawberries.  I wanted to save some of them so that I could harvest the seeds and plant my own berries.  Since I didn't dig the compost pit, I had a little extra time and decided to harvest the seeds.  I went to the refrigerator and this is what I found . . .

Yuck!  I was so disappointed.  I had decided to put them all in the ever growing compost pile when I thought, "What the hell!  I'll just plant them as is."  -Remember I told you that I have now idea what I am doing.-  I put an entire  rotten strawberry in each of six cups with potting soil and set them out with the herbs to see if anything grows.  At the very worst, I can just add it all to the compost later.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Starting from Scratch

First, I must say that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.  Nonetheless, I want to have a garden and in spite of the naysayers (you know who you are) I am getting started today.  I have four projects scheduled for today.  First, there is an old rusted trampoline in my backyard which I am going to remove.  It is taking up a lot of space and blocking the sun.  Also, it is just a home to creatures that I neither like nor want near me or my garden.  I have terrifying images of spiders in my mind right now which are making me shudder.  Don't get me wrong.  Some spiders I like, but black widows and recluses are free game.  I digress.

I am also going to mow the area where I think I want to put my garden and make sure that the dream translates well into reality.  To the right of the designated garden area, I have already planted some berry bushes.  I have two blueberry, one blackberry and one raspberry.  To the left, I am leaving room for a greenhouse that I would like to build this fall.  The garden area will be approximately 24' x 25'.  Even though I would like it to be at least double that size, I think this size is a good place to start.  I don't want to be overly ambitious, get discouraged and quit.  What is more, since I am starting from scratch, I will have to prepare the soil for the garden and 600 sq. ft. sounds like plenty for me right now.

Digging a compost pit is also on the agenda for today.  I wanted to build compost bin and found some excellent plans online, but digging a hole in the ground seems so much easier.  I don't really know which would be better, bin or pit, but I have a tendency to overthink things and I just want to get started.  I haven't decided where to put the pit yet either.  I have neighbors on both sides of me and I don't want to offend anyone with the smells that I have heard come with composting.  The good news is that I find myself wanting to eat more healthy so that I actually have things to put into the compost pit. 

My last plan for today is to plant some herbs in pots.  I bought some clay pots, saucers and a couple of bags of topsoil so I am ready to begin.  I am going to start with basil, cilantro and oregano.  I use these quite a bit in cooking so they seem like a good place to start.  I'll see what happens.  This summer is going to be quite an adventure which I am sure will present my learning opportunities.  Like I said before.  I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.