Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finally planting something!

It seems so far that this is more of a construction blog than a gardening blog, but I promise we do finally get something into the ground.  First we had to place (and level, and fill) those beds.

Thanks to those anchor posts we included, we didn't actually need to level the whole space.  Instead we marked out where the corners of each bed would be, and dug holes for the posts there.  We also made some small trenches where the sides would hit the ground.  The idea was that the posts would hang down into the holes and the sides would be flat on the ground.  This was much, much easier (and less frustrating) than trying to perfectly level the whole space, especially since our weed excavation had left the ground a bit lumpy.  We sucessfully leveled the boxes, although one sits a titch higher than the other two.  Just a bit on wonky charm, right?

We filled in the holes under and around the anchor posts, and then lined the bottom of the boxes with newspaper (two layers thick) as a bit of weed barrier.  I had picked up a bunch of old student newspapers from the University of Oregon (where I work), and geekily enjoyed that the front page story was about an initiative from my department, featuring a number of quotes from - who else? - the friend who helped us build the beds. 

Now came the part we thought would be easy - filling the boxes with dirt.  Seriously, how hard could that be?  Just get 2.5 cubic yards of garden mix delivered (wow, that's a big pile of dirt), load it into the boxes (25 wheelbarrow trips down, only 500 more to go), level it out (like rowing a canoe through mud for 3 straight hours), and tamp it down (easy as hiking through loose sand).  The blessings?  The littlest gardener had an extra-long nap that day, allowing us to do this whole job without interruption.  And little miss gardener was a big help in the tamping down process - she just pulled on her boots and marched around in the boxes.

Finally, finally, we were ready to plant some veggies.  To help us decide what to plant, we consulted the Veggie Calendar, a brochure from the Portland Nursery.  It very helpfully lays out when to plant various things that one might grow in our area, including the ideal time and method for each vegetable.  Looking at the time of year and the unseasonable cold we were having, we decided to start with cabbage, broccoli, and carrots.

Since we had spent most of our day working on the beds, we didn't get to the home improvement store until close to closing.  When you don't really know what you're doing, it's not a great idea to try and get everything in the last 20 minutes a store is open.  Still, it went pretty well.  How many broccolis can we expect to get out of a broccoli start?  Who knows, let's get two!  Look, these cabbage starts come in a six-pack.  Sold!  Then we came to the wall of seed packets...

Carefully planting a cabbage

When I was pregnant with little miss and we were registering at our big box store of choice, we made the unfortunate decision to start with the wall o' feeding implements.  My second-trimester self looked at the floor-to-ceiling display of bottles, nipples, pump accessories, and replacement parts and burst into tears.  Facing the giant seed display was a similar feeling, although not being pregnant, I didn't cry this time.  There are a lot of different brands of seeds.  And this was the first time it occurred to me that there are different varieties of carrots.  We went for organic seeds, both for the organicness of them and because it helped narrow down our options.  We decided on the Danvers variety, a stubbier, thicker type of carrot.  And helpfully the packet promised, "guaranteed to grow!"  Sounds like just what we'd need.

Armed with our new plants, we ventured back into the yard.  We put in both broccolis, one row of carrots, and four of the cabbages.  We would have done all six, but we wanted to save space for all the warmer-weather veggies still to come.  And here's our gardening vocab for the day: sequencing.  Yes that's right folks - you do not need to plant all four cabbages on the same day.  If you do, you will most likely end up with a lot of cabbage all at the same time.  Oops.  Maybe some homemade sauerkraut will be in everyone's stocking this Christmas.    

One bed done

Ta da!


Those are gorgeous beds! (And a beautiful gardening helper too!)
Thanks Shelby! Hope you're having fun in your new home!

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