Monday, March 26, 2012

Planting Has Begun

Finally we had enough nice weather to dry out the soil enough.  Digging in soaking wet soil can damage soil structure, smooshing the particles together and destroying air pockets in it.  Since it stayed dry for two whole days, my beds were moist but not wet and in perfect shape for turning.  I mixed in a 1.5 cubic foot bag of garden compost to lighten things up and add organic matter, then evened it out and raked it as smooth as possible.  Then I added in a well-rounded "Garden" organic fertilizer (5-3-3); it was surprisingly hard to find a fertilizer that didn't have high levels of potassium, which my garden already has in plenty.  With occasional doses of fish emulsion to keep the nitrogen levels up I think this fertilizer will work out nicely.  I gently mixed about 1.5 pounds of fertilizer into the top few inches of soil.
Close up of Bed 2 before being turned

Once all of the soil amending was completed I measured out my square feet, and used string and thumb tacks to mark them.  All ready for planting!

Bed 1 ready for planting
My garden beds are a bit of a crazy mish-mash to the untrained eye.  While they are laid out in a square foot grid, the plants are arranged based on my particular location requirements.  For example, the peas are all along the back row where they can climb the trellis on the fence.  Garlic and onions line up along each side of the bed because slugs don't care for them and the slugs seem to come from the bare ground to either side of the bed rather than the front edge where the patio is.  Working toward the inside of the bed from there comes celery which grows taller than most of the brassicas and can help to shade them a bit as the weather gets warmer.  Then the rows of lettuce, between the celery and the brassicas, shaded by their height and away from the slug-filled edges.  The lettuce is also within easy picking range from all sides.  Lastly the brassicas fill the center of the bed, with carrots planted between rows.  Broccoli being tallest is in the back, with cauliflower and cabbage closer to the front. 

All planted and ready to grow!
After things start to grow in it should make for a pretty picture of a garden bed, with everything well located for easy harvest and mutual health. 

If the weather holds out long enough for my back to loosen up again I'll be out digging up the other bed and getting it planted as well.  The pumpkin bed will have to wait a bit, only hot weather plants are going in it.  It is also the cats' favorite place to leave me "gifts" so I want to wait until the other beds have filled in and no longer need the cat-proof screens before working on it.

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