I recently move from one semi-rural small town to another to start graduate school. There’s just something about passing by open fields, quaint farmhouses, and waving neighbors on my way home that puts my mind at ease.
My new home came ready for all things domestic from a garden space that was once a horse manure pit covered with cardboard waiting to be planted, a space for chickens, a honey bee hive, and a big freezer. I took an inventory off all the fruit bearing plants growing wild: two apple trees, two black raspberry bushes, several blackberry vines, and a blueberry bush. All within the yard! Its like a dream come true actually.
I’ve been looking forward to starting my own garden for a few years. I’ve worked in other gardens, but not had a real vegetable garden that was mine to establish and care for – that’s the dilemma of renting. I want to see what I’m capable of creating on my own. I get to really learn what kind of gardener I am through trial and error.
There are so many things one can do with a garden too, the possibilies seem endless. One thing I find so attractive about gardening is how every year, every season is a new adventure. There are so many varities of vegetables to choose from, combinations to plant in, trellises to build.
My first weekend here my darlin’ and I set to work. The owners had been living here for two years previously and had prepared a garden space but only planted one year and then covered it with cardboard. The grass and weeds had grown up. Some over hip height. So we set out with weed-eaters and knocked it all down as best we could.
While pulling up the cardboard I discovered a copperhead hiding underneath. That gave us a bit of a scare, and now I carry a shovel with me when I go to work in the garden just in case. We double dug a space about 15X10 feet, only half of the original garden area. Double Digging is when you dig down the depth of two shovel heads and turn the soil. This aerates and lossens the soil so the plant roots have plenty of space to reach out. I figured I’d start small since I’m just planting a fall/winter garden.
Come summer I’ll put the whole thing to use. We formed 4 beds which I planted with beans, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach and my favorite garlic! I left a space for kale and cabbage that I’ll plant a little later. After the beans and lettuce are spent I’ll plant a cover crop of Winter Rye and Hairy Vetch that will protect the soil over winter and then refertilize the beds when I turn it under in the spring. I’m planning to over winter the spinach, garlic, kale and cabbage. Then I’ll have greens earlier in the spring!