Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The "Before" Pictures

The "Gigantic Garden" has been quite the project to get going. It's taken about five weeks to fully prepare and fill with seeds and garlic cloves. This first post about it is intended as the "before" pictures since I hope in another month that it will be a burgeoning garden to be reckoned with.

Rows and rows of seeded garden.
Step 1. Trade mesquite wood with Frank the handyman for tilling services. Frank spent a  couple of mornings churning up the cleared area and mixing in composted manure. Sure, I could have dug it all by hand but I wanted a garden this year, not the next...

Step 2. Make a list of vegetables and herbs we use at home and the restaurants. Green beans, okra, basil, dill, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, more garlic, beets, eggplant and zucchini. For fun sow some sunflowers and zinnias at the edges. Plant all. That took weeks of morning visits.

Step 3. Water, water, water. Remember, we live in a desert! Mother Nature isn't going to help us out here with free rainwater because she's busy doing that in other places.

This is a fence made entirely of pallets cut with a jig-saw.
Step 4. Build a fence to keep out the children and large critters because they'll stomp on the seedlings and smash the neat rows before anything has a chance to grow! Free pallets are right across the street at the feed store and more can be found all over town if you care to ask. Recycling these heat treated pallets keeps them out of landfills.

Step 5. Add some trees around the edges. You might as well. There's a lot of space and shade will be most welcome in the upcoming summertime. I planted, plums, apricots, and apples. Later, with the help of my mini-farmer son, we added three blueberry bushes and two avocado trees. We've been advised against citrus by the neighbors since it gets so cold in the winter the trees tend to freeze to death. (I think I want a hoophouse in the future to combat that obstacle.)

Planting an avocado tree.

The first part of the garden was hand-tilled with a pick-axe. The ground is very soft after breaking through the hard top crust. Extremely different than what I was used to for Tucson. Everywhere else I've lived the ground was made up of tough clay strung through with coleche, a horrible gray material much like concrete. Not so here.

The small patch in front of the main goat pen is sort of a test garden that I planted before everything else to be sure the plants wouldn't freeze. Some died. Some survived.

In the two rows that didn't make it, I added dill seeds and cucumber seeds. Amongst the tomato and zucchini that survived, I added more dill.
The test garden.

Accomplishing this much so far makes me dream of watermelons in the summer and pumpkin patches in the fall. But I know at this stage, I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself.

To date one green bean and one zucchini seed have sprouted. There are so many more to go...

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