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Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring beds are a pain in the...

It was a glorious and sunny Easter Sunday. In the 70's, nice breezes.. A little too sunny, got a little pinked, hehhee. Today was just as warm and nice, but sort of overcast. So it's been a couple of days in the yard setting up some spring beds.

First off, a couple pics of how nicely the plants on the front porch are doing:
The greenhouse is full kales, peas, nasturtiums, chamomile, sunflowers, and alyssums..  Bless my little greenhouse- this was well worth the 28 dollars to be able to pull out this much from the solarium to prep up for planting! The litter buckets are full of dill. In the big black tub is a trio of sad hollies that I got on clearance- I hope they spring back. In the little pots are the second year lavenders. And a very small pot of great shady groundcover Dawn gave me that survived the winter.

This is looking down the hole of a milk jug at a mass of wildflower mix sprouts.

On to the beds. First I raked out all the leaves to the end of the stalls, general cleanup. Then I started with setting up potato bags, and actually remembered to take pics along the way... I used 45 gallon contractor bags because that's what I had in the house.

Heap of materials- once I remembered to start using my camera, heh. The brown mat is the cocoa mat stuff used in baskets. I used this as the bottom layer in my bags. It's a 3 foot square cut into quarters. In the wheelbarrow is straw- I used about half of it making a layer under the bags for insulation and to have something the bags can leak out onto. If I put them right on the concrete I pretty much negate making drainage cuts. I hope between the cocoa mat and straw flakes it makes a good base. In the smaller bags are my see potatoes.

This is the beginning of the bed. Why did I put it into a stall? Because if the bags get unruly as they get bigger, I can tie them up to a wall as needed. I put down a layer of straw flake on the concrete first, then started with the bags.

I cut several slits across the bottom of the bags, put the mat in the center, and away I went...

This is almost done with setup. On top of the cocoa mat went a flake of straw, busted up and fluffed. Then a couple of buckets of manure compost, then another flake of straw busted up. Heaps are about six inchesish inside. Time to lay in the potatoes!

Adirodack Blue..

Australian Fingerling..

Pontiac Red...


Of course I didn't just leave them on the straw! But pics after they are buried is pretty pointless, heh. I snuggled them down into the straw so they were in goodly contact with the dirt. Then a nice bit of leaves over the top for extra coverage. Hopefully now it's just sprinkle in a bit of dirt and a heap of straw till the bag is full :)

On to the next bed...
The other day we cleaned out the fairy garden, and three+ large barrows of leaves got dumped at the end of the stalls, just like I did last year. Only this year was even deeper and a bit wider. I just took shovelfuls of composted manure and carefully dumped it over the leaves to compact them down. Now it's wait a couple weeks for the bed to settle till it's time to put beans and squash in.

That was enough beds for Sunday... I was feeling a bit pink and so decided against busting into the fenceside bed. Set out the beginnings of the next chunk of bottle border and did the weeding out of the area of the fairy garden where I want to plant in some of those milkmaid nasturtiums.

So today was Monday and since it was so nice out today, it was time to crack open the fenceside bed. A project I was not looking forward to. But not using that side is just a total waste of great growing space. But it meant moving the compost pile, at least a bit.. whine, whine..

This is what the heap looked like before. One side mostly manure that is getting dug into, the other mostly where I've been dumping tons of scrap for the last couple years. I wanted to open up a channel on the fence side and plant in my early spring goodies, but sooo didn't want to really start moving manure yet.

Here's what it looked like once I was done cutting my channel. Dear heavens it was more work than I anticipated. There was a 1x6 board longer than the whole area buried about 6 inches or so under the surface. So just once I thought I was getting done with the preliminary dig in, I hit this big ole board. It's slotted on both sides so maybe it was an old piece of siding or flooring. It became the bottom board in my little retaining wall. A couple other yard boards went in for a top layer to help contain the manure mountain. On the bright side, ripping out that board broke or snapped a great many nasty ass roots of stuff, so I'm hopeful this might have helped kill off some of that. When it comes time to put in my peas, I will break open another straw bale and nestle them in.
Now, I don't plan on that wall working forever. The pipes holding the boards in place are just hand crammed in, and trying to garden over a hill is a PITA. I do plan on training the plants to be inside the fence for picking as much as I can. But I think quite a bit of that pile is going to be moved to create the beds for the tomatoes, peppers, and bush beans. Eventually I think that side will become a whole bed much like the end has.
Of course this will mean a moving of that particular compost area to another part of the yard, and I already know where I'm going to relocate it to- the raspberry bed. It's a mostly gravel base, and the few raspberries there suck. So out they go and compost area goes in. I think eventually if the area can be built in right, it might become a raised bed for asparagus.
I've been thinking a lot about veggie row over the years, and now I'm sort of settling into the notion that the bee patio area will become more of a set it and forget it beds like asparagus, garlic.. stuff you don't have to tend quite as much. This years beds of tomatoes, peppers, and beans are going to be built up on the other end of veggie row, closest to the house.
Not all of my tomato and pepper seeds came up. Three kinds of peppers and a couple kinds of tomatoes. But all my pots of pepperonchini came up and seriously need some dividing- hoping to keep every single one of them. Canned goods last forever, so I'm hoping for as huge as possible with this one. And the manzano is the other pepper that is coming up. Which is extra nice, because this is the one pepper that isn't really a pepper and so will not cross with my pepperonchini- I know I will get pure seed :)
I can deal with the non sprouting of a couple lines of tomatoes- just means I can concentrate more on the ones that came up. Need to divide a couple of those too while I still have a really good chance of doing so. When my sister is out next in May, we can set up the beds for those.

Hmmm, much done, and many plans to come..

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