Today our family “garden experiment” officially began! We were finally assured a nice sunny day in northern Utah. The earth had sufficiently dried to ensure we would not be wallowing in a field of mud. So, there really were no more excuses. As previously blogged, this is the first time in our marriage (of over 22 years) to attempt to build, plant, tend, and (hopefully) eat homegrown food from a garden. So, we gathered up whatever garden-looking stuff we could find stashed away in the garage or corners of our yard, consisting of: 1 shovel, 1 rake, 2 sets of old garden gloves, 1 spade, a pile of old bricks and paving stones [left behind by previous homeowners], an interesting metal mesh thing that I decided could make a good trellis, and 1 tarp. At 8:45 am Mr. MoSop, and my oldest daughter and I drove to the location of the Community Garden where we met my boss/friend Joyce, and our adventure began.
This was our first time to actually see the community garden area (located behind Joyce’s Episcopalian church) and the first time to see our assigned area. The little tree to the east of our spot was casting quite a bit of shade at 8:45 am, but by 9:30 am the entire spot was in full-sun, and things were heating up quickly!
I was very grateful to find that all of the plots were previously measured, staked and roped off by Community Garden volunteers. (bless them!) So, while the other three went to fill wheelbarrows with shredded wood-chips on the North end of the field, I stayed and measured out the pathways we planned to create in our plot.
In keeping with our “recycle” goals, and to save expense, we laid down old newspapers on each pathway to help block weed growth, and then we covered over with about a 3 inch thick layer of shredded wood-chips.
My daughter couldn’t resist dancing on the path to tamp down the wood chips! (Who says work can’t be fun?) 🙂
As we dug and raked through the dirt, we found a lot of big worms. We assume this is a very good sign that things can live and grow here!
We decided to put all of those old paving stones we found to good use by creating a little “English Garden” pathway between the two halves of our garden plot. First we laid down the newspaper, then the pavers, and then we filled in the gaps with shredded wood-chips.
Gardening is not for the faint of heart! We got a really good workout today (and our muscles are certainly paying for it tonight)!
In the end, we were rewarded with three 4′ x20′ garden spots completely surrounded by 3′ wide pathways, and lined with old bricks and the rocks that we had either dug up from the garden area, or found in the unplowed field. The final photo is a result of four adults working more than four solid non-stop hours (i.e. over 16 total man-hours)! Of course, this is just “the beginning”. We don’t even have an actual “garden” yet! The next step is that I need to plan out my actual garden, and then actually plant something! (that was a lot of “actuals”)
I visited a local garden center immediately after all of this work. It was mesmerizing and overwhelming. I wandered around in a a daze looking at all of the plants, flowers, seeds, supplies, nifty products, latest gadgets, and I could almost see the dollar signs start spinning in my eyes like a cartoon character! I quickly bought a better pair of gardening gloves (on sale) and hurried to my car before I found myself taking a second mortgage for our garden! I reminded myself that the goal for this experiment is to do it as economically as possible! The general rule in Northern Utah is that danger of frost is not past until after Mother’s Day. So, there’s still a couple of weeks to hold off on putting many plants in the ground. Sadly, I missed the earliest planting time for things I love like lettuce and peas. I don’t think its too late to try some of those, but I worry about the sudden rise in temperature which apparently is not good for those crops. The temporary water lines to our garden were just being laid down today as we were leaving. We were told they would be fully operational by this coming Tuesday. So, basically, I have until Tuesday to decide what I am going to plant, and then get something into the ground so I can water it and start the “magic”. Meanwhile, I’m reading books, browsing the internet, talking to friends and known “gardening people”, and I would be very happy to hear any of your suggestions and advice! Cheers, – MoSop
- Gardening: I’ve Run Out Of Excuses (mormonsoprano.com)
- Our Community Garden in the Land of Queen M (willowsbranches.wordpress.com)
- One of the Perks of Joining a Community Garden Plot (kidsdiggardens.wordpress.com)
I have done a garden almost every year so far since I lived in my home and it always is tough. I still am learning. Certain fruits or vegetables can’t go with others because of how much iron they take. One thing I did learn this last year though is to pull off the bottom stems of the tomato plants or it will take the nutrients the fruit needed. Do this on a continual basis as it grows. You’ll be amazed at the rewards. We had more tomatos then combined all the years previos. They were growing out of our ears and we were looking for unlocked car doors in the church parking lot. Lol! Good luck on your garden.
Cool, I never would have known that! Thanks for the tip.
ahhh, but you can put out cold weather seeds right now to get a jump start. Things like lettuce, chard and radishes could all be planted now. Our growing season is similar to yours and my starts don’t go out yet, but my seeds are in! I am eating lettuce already. (and sometimes it gets below freezing at night still…)
Your garden is beautiful. Enjoy your time in the dirt! (it is one of my favorite places to be…)
JRoberts, thanks so much for the encouragement and the tips! (Congrats on your garden…I have lettuce envy of you).