This past weekend was full of planning, digging and planting. And it was also my first time advising another on the ins and outs of planting a food garden. A friend of mine invited me over Saturday to help her plan and plant her first vegetable garden.
I have been helping her get ready for the past few months - lending her books on seed starting, soil preparation and every back copy of Mother Earth News I could locate. We installed the raised beds and the fencing to protect from garden intruders and Saturday we transplanted her pre-hardened off seedlings into the dirt. And what nice dirt it was - enriched with organic compost and manure - she joked about the irony of purchasing cow manure in relation to just a generation previously we would have gotten it from the barn.
She is off to a very ambitious start with as many different kinds of vegetables as she could fit in the space she has. I did my best, reminding her time and again that I am not an expert and most of what I have learned is from reading and from personal trial and error. Being looked to for advice on something is new to me and at first I felt quite bossy and lecture-like offering answers to her questions. Now I am starting to feel a little more confident in myself in that I just might know what I am doing, for the most part.
A few hours later, her garden was mostly planted and marked with little laminated index cards naming the plant with a little reference picture. These, she explained, were made by her class (she is a teacher) for her and her new garden.
The rest of Saturday was spent in my own garden putting in some seedlings that were ready: a few peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and eggplant. I do not eat the last three but my friend ran out of room and had these extra seedlings left over. I will be growing them for her and handing over the goods when they are ripe. I also managed to get the support fencing up for the peas and beans and get the tomato cages up in preparation for the tomato transplant in a couple weeks.
A side note: after putting in teh seedlings, we went out to dinner. When we came home, I noticed that in the time it took for us to eat our dinner, somthing had made a light dinner out of the tops of my two cucumber plants and one of the eggplants. I immediately placed milk jug cloches over all the transplants to prevent further munching. These will also protect against any light frosts that we may still get. I am going to construct some sort of protection fencing for each plant this year given the expereince I had last year.
Tomatoes always cause quite a commotion around here in that I always seem to mess them up. I am obsessed with them - and I don;t even eat them. Roy loves them as does my mother, but I just grow them. I figure that they are one of the most stressful plants to grow, at least for me, and if I can master them then I will have accomplished something great.
Last year I had a meltdown over tomato cage supports and I always agonize about when to transplant. Despite my best efforts to doom myself last year I not only had many more tomatoes than I could handle, i also had tomato plants coming up in the garden where i had planted none. The previous years tomatoes that had fallen off the plant had stayed in the ground all winter and sprouted by themselves in the rows between the plants I had put in. I spent a great deal of time digging out plants and taking htem to mothers house, sneaking htem into her flower garden - the flower garden that I tend every year since she had an aversion to dirt but enjoys the flowers.
Sunday was another day of planting and puttering around the yard making things look the way I wanted them to. Roy played the role of house-frau in that he sat inside and entertained two children and watched more than his fair share of television. I was in my glory getting dirty and sweaty and covered with grass clippings and chicken poo while going about my property care.
I have 20 strawberry bulbs to put in tomorrow in the second raised bed. The first raised bed is now full of carrots, radish and lettuce seeds. I also got the onions, corn and potatoes in the big garden. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the corn in that we have not had good luck with it in the 7 years we have been here. Either no germination or sporadic plants that only get about 4 feet tall and don't produce any corn. maybe this year will be better.
The peas and beans are soaking and they will go in tomorrow.