Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Veggie heaven - The garden is in

Last week (see post here), we secured most of our supplies to start our very own Square Foot Garden: the cedar boards, some course vermiculite, and peat moss. I've had seedlings growing on the windowsill for weeks, picked up more green onion bulbs from the farmers market this weekend, and gently watered the cabbage plants on the front porch as they waited patiently for their new home to be complete. And on Friday, one of SGF's faithful readers/commenters gave me a bag of snow pea seeds (how could she have known that I LOVE snow peas?) Thanks, Tammy!!!!!

Some hard work over the last couple days have taken us the rest of the way. Saturday was a rest day for us, but we put in a lot of hard work on Sunday and Monday. During the morning hours (on Sunday), we attacked "the hill," as it's known at our house. Yeah. It's supposed to be the compost heap, but having ignored it for years, it needed some loving care. Well, actually, that's a bit of an understatement. It needed some brute strength and a steel shovel - enter Dave (aka Sugar Daddy). 

I ripped methodically at the weeds growing out of the sides of the bin as he loosened each side. We finally managed to pull it up and started separating the grass, food debris, etc from the gorgeous dark compost. Seriously, there was a lot of dirt in there (and lots of icky bugs too)!

Dave built a nifty sifter into which we could pour the compost bin's goodies, shake it up over the wheelbarrow, and have beautiful composted soil as the end result (throwing the large chunks that remain in the sifter back into the bin for more "processing" time. Does any of this make sense? 

Anyway, as you can see, we ended up with lots of beautiful soil and a nice new compost area. It was hard work, but it had to be done, and I promise to take care of it from now on. Really, I do...

We took a break for lunch and rest and my mid-afternoon, I was back outside for more work. Work? Did I say work? Hmm. Honestly it really is more therapeutic and I'm enjoying it so much. I hate to call it work. Let's call it "garden therapy." 

So, I was back outside for more "garden therapy." As far as I was concerned, the grass where we are planning to put the raised bed just wasn't dying fast enough, so I decided to help it along (Dave snuck out to take a picture of me - payback for the one I took of him during Hurricane Ike. I got all the grass pulled up from the 4 x 4 area (my hands ached the rest of the day, but that was nothing to the pain in the my legs Monday morning- ugh). Regardless, we decided to complete one more task for the day.

With the help of a staple gun and some weed cloth, Dave and I secured several layers of cloth to the bottom of the raised bed and put the bed in place. What a Sunday!

Monday morning, as Dave hopped on his bike and headed off to work, I headed to the backyard for more "therapy." With me I dragged the vermiculite and the peat moss. In an empty wheelbarrow, I mixed equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and compost until I filled the bed (about 3 cubic feet each).

I took a break to run a few errands on my bike and after lunch was ready to finish the job. Again with the help of the staple gun and using some twine I found in the laundry room cabinet, I made a grid on top of the bed (this makes planting easier). 

Of course, the final step is planting. As you can see, I have 5 cabbage plants in (one per square), 3 squares of green onions (16 per square), and less visible, I have 2 squares of snow pea seeds (16 per square). Once the seedlings of broccoli and spinach which currently reside indoors on my kitchen windowsill are more mature, they'll fill out those last 6 squares. 

I didn't have a watering can and I wanted to gently water the bed, so I took an old quart-size yogurt container, poked some holes in the top of the lid, filled it with water, and sprinkled each square. Ta-da! Instant watering can. 

Alright then. All that's left to talk about is the moola. How much did it cost me to put this baby together?
  1. $35 for cedar boards (two 2 x 6 x 8 boards)
  2. $8.49 for 3 cu ft peat mos
  3. $23.80 for 4 cu ft course vermiculite
  4. $2.98 for 9 established cabbage plants
That's a total of $70.27 for everything and that bed, since it's made out of cedar, should last a REALLY long time. And if I need to add any soil to the bed, I'll just pull it out of the compost bin, so no need to spend money on soil. The only future costs (for this bed anyway) will be the cost of seeds/plants and watering. 

Of course, we'll add on a bed or two in the coming seasons, but for now, we are well on our way to more sustainable life. That beautiful soil felt light and rich in my hands and I have to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing the bounty that this small bed will provide. Someday, I'm sure, we'll look back on these last few days and remember all the hard work and anticipation of our first garden, and all the little additions we made along the way. I think this is the start of something truly wonderful. In the meantime, fall is looking mighty tasty. Let the growing begin!


ttammylynn said...

Ready or not--Tuesday morning, early--here comes the rain. Rain does better things for a garden than any city water ever could. Your seeds may not stay in place, but the benefits should be great.
I got my potato and garlic order and planted garlic yesterday. I'm going to put the potatoes in a brown bag to "sprout" them before planting. I have small amounts of two kinds of fingerling potatoes and yukon gold. The garlic is a red and white stripey one.
I planted flowers over the weekend. I have a huge flowerbed that needs more flowers, but I am waiting for a better selection of pansies and violas at the garden centers. I have a few mums, some pansies, lantana, and some others. Under the annuals, I planted a pack of hyacinths that should come up in the Spring. My seedless grapevines are a backdrop and I have two or three cherry bushes down the bed.
The seeds I planted are doing far better than usual for me. I have beets, cabbage,snow peas, snap peas, turnip greens, radish, carrots, spinach, and herbs all coming up from seed in the gardens. The lettuce is baby leaf and ready to eat, as is the basil. In the greenhouse, there are some cheddar cauliflower(orange cauliflower), broccoli, and heirloom tomato seedlings. I'm going to leave the tomatoes in the greenhouse in medium sized pots, but the rest will travel to the garden after some other stuff dies in a few weeks(I don't expect tomatoes or cucumbers to live too much longer). The citrus trees will have to move to the greenhouse when the weather gets cool, but there is plenty of room.
I really like the title for your blog today because every time I step outside, I feel like I'm in "veggie heaven".
Oh, and Vicki had her appendix removed in emergency surgery on Saturday. She e-mailed that she is doing alright and her children and husband are helping out a lot. I just hope she gets some much needed rest.
The organic apple order went in this morning, so it will be soon...I'll let you know.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Yay Heather, you guys got your garden in!! It is beautiful. I couldn't agree more that gardening, while hard work, is so therapeutic! That is why I am so happy we are attempting an indoor winter garden. The thought of many long months with no gardening doesn't sound very fun.

It doesn't seem like it cost you too awful much to get this started either. And once you've paid for those basic things, well, it is taken care of. I can't wait to see these guys' progress. Yummmmy!

Anonymous said...

Looks wonderful and will produce amazing amounts once growing...WTG!


Michelle said...

A wonderful investment that should pay off many times over!

timeus said...

Don't be growing anything illegal, now, you hear?

Heather @ SGF said...

ttammylynn - I checked the garden first thing this morning. Everything looked pretty good other than a few of the green onions had migrated a few inches. No telling where the seeds went, if anywhere. We'll find out soon :)

With all that in your garden, will you continue with the CSA? Sounds like most everything you are growing yourself. Are you working towards raising most everything yourself?

jennifer - No, I'm real happy with the price, in fact, the next one will be cheaper as I found out my dad knows someone he can barter with to get us more cedar. Sweet!

molly - Thanks! I'm really looking forward to watching everything grow. More pictures to come...

michelle - I sure hope so. If nothing else, it's fun!

timeus - who me? ;)

jennconspiracy said...

Congrats on the nice raised bed but... you didn't really use peat moss, did you? That's very un-green. Seriously. It's Very Bad for global warming.

Heather @ SGF said...

jennconspiracy - I don't know anything about peat moss being environmentally unfriendly. What's the story?