I’ve been working outside for a week now. The snow flurried last weekend. A stubborn clump of snow still sits at the end of my driveway. But if I can go outside, I go outside. I have stuff to do.
Garden plans & sketches
For those hibernation months when outdoor gardening was impossible, I planned.
I sketched each of garden bed before they were covered in snow. I spent the winter perusing gardening sites and decided which perennial or tree or fruit bush I would plant.
Vegetable garden plans
Then I planned the vegetable garden. The raised beds are now fixed, the anti-deer garden fence was built last summer. The potential for vertical gardening abounds. I’ll try my hand at succession gardening this year. (Can’t believe I’ve never done that before.) I’ll even buy row covers to enable the healthiest growth. I’m turning up my companion planting game too.
Grow Lights & Indoor seeding
By early January, I am roaring to go (but yes, we’re still under five feet of snow with no sunshine). I purchased the grow lights, another giant bag of potting soil and an order went into http://www.westcoastseeds.com. My first seed tray was planted by mid-February.
Conscientious observation helps me identify what seeds didn’t germinate. Can’t even believe I didn’t label my plants last year. (I’ll remember them right? Random garden planting…that’s probably why I didn’t produce any butternut squash. Though I’m sure I seeded them.)
Now, with five vegetable trays and two flower trays planted, everything can’t fit under the grow lights. But this year, I’ve come up with a solution to lazing cats that like to also nap under the grow lights….overlaying pea fence netting atop the whole thing. Cats begone.
Amending the soil
I’m nearly finished hand turning the raised beds. Amendments added: azomite, alfalfa pellets, and worm castings. I will still buy a few truckloads of soil yet. My beds are thin. The soil is nutrient deficient in nitrogen. (We did the soil test in ‘botany’ class today).
Benefits of azomite:
Benefits of alfalfa pellets:
(Disadvantage of alfalfa pellets: the deer like them, yet another draw for those gals to hang here)
Benefits of worm castings:
After sprinkling red wrigglers in my compost bin last fall, I was delighted to discover they happily overwintered. Though yuck, the rot, but yay, so many worms! I am throwing them in to each of my garden beds to aerate and poop to their hearts content. Definitely a goal next winter: an indoor worm farm.
When you live on a rock, you need to get creative with soil. I am making lasagne beds for new perennial gardens.
Vegetable Garden planting
We soaked sweet pea, snow pea and green pea seeds for direct ground sowing — completed today with my little botany student helpers. (If the snow wasn’t still here, I would have planted them a couple weeks ago already.) Zone 6, woot woot.
There’s so much firewood to still cut, and always will be. Luckily, my husband finds nature therapy beneficial. Since his profession occupies no time whatsoever in the great outdoors, it is truly a bonus. He has cut me large rounds for steps from the garden zone to the river trail. He has cut number signs for our property. He has cut a bike rack. And numerous ‘side tables’ for our many seating areas.
My small sod grassed zone overlooking the river is being raked and fertilized. The kids can’t wait for it to spring to life so they can dance and play.
Last, but definitely first, plans for a chicken coop are coming together. I couldn’t be more excited to begin this adventure. I’ve been reading and planning for a solid ten years. Twelve tiny chickens will begin their egg development over twenty one days starting next Thursday. They’ll see us at the end of May. The brooder is awaiting their presence. I’m going to be a chicken mama!