Saturday, April 23, 2011
Lesson learned (Black Thumb of Death Gardening)
Edit: I have imported this from my The Black Thumb of Death Gardening Blog to my regular blog...
When we got home after going out and enjoying our first sunny day in weeks, we laid out black plastic the previous owners left behind for gardening. We put it around the planting beds to kill off the "grass" that was growing around them. I detest plastic, but it was free, heavy-duty and will do the job. It is very wide. We laid it out over the bed-frames and cut inside the boxes so the plastic fitted over the area, making sure any grass on the sides would die a good death.
I then started looking for grass under the newspaper. Bloody hell, it is coming through. Luckily, we had not added the rest of the soils. I used a spade to pull the soils away from one side, then used a shovel to loosen the top mat of root knots of the grass. I removed it, to be put in what will be the composting area, took a claw and aerated the soil. Man, we have lovely, loamy dirt under it! I found a lot of worms too. Cool. I then clawed that even, pulled back the added dirt and repeated on the other side. Three beds done, 12 more to go. We will price the truck-load of wood chips or bark to put on the plastic later on. for now, we used rocks from a area by the house to hold the edges down. Being fitted over the boxes, it was only the edges that needed it.
Lesson learned. Get rid of grass-like top first. The newspaper did warm the soil and it dug up much more nicely than when I started the beds
I have tons of seedlings going. More to go. Tomorrow we make the potato cages. I am going to line the chicken wire with straw and put soils in the middle, maybe chop some straw into it. Some people have great luck with just straw, others get a molded mess. Or I can just put them in the soil. We have the chicken wire and stakes for the cages, so we may as well give that a go first.
We are going to take the huge lengths we cut off the plastic and lay it out where we are going to plant a small patch of corn. The area is well-mulched from two years of weed-whacking down the area. I can cut through the plastic to plant even. Again, I detest plastic, but we are just starting and using what we have and make-do. I was warned a first-time garden was going to cost, we have managed to use a lot of the stuff the previous people left behind, making it a little cheaper for us newbies
After securing the plastic, we are putting up stakes around it. Then I am going to string fishing line at the top and a foot down. One man wrote into Mother Earth News that he did that and the deer would hit it with their chest and take off, spooked. His whole garden survived using fishing line? I have tons of it! Cool! With the plastic down we will know for sure if it works or not. that bed will be on part of an area they graze through. I will report if it works. No clue exactly how to deter raccoons yet. They are smarter than the average bear. Oh, we have bears too, of course.
Some of the plants got a little leggy. I will have to be more diligent about the light. I already have plants on my shelves. It was 28 degrees last night. It is still too early to take them outside. I do hope we get summer this year. Maybe we need to put in those hoops with clear or white plastic "wrap" over them so the plants will grow and be safe from ever-cooling weather we are having.
I really need to get the berry bushes planted. It has been so cold at night, it is not an option. We may plant them in the front under where the kitchen window is and cover with thick plastic at night? I have to read up on that. It would suck to lose them.