Silver Bells and Cockleshells

real live gardening and the nursery-rhyme set

Building Beds October 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — carrotqueen @ 7:42 pm

I’m probably doing it all wrong. It’s my firm philosophy that the best way to do things is to just go out and do them, and then figure out what went wrong later. This may not be the best child-raising philosophy, but it ought to work in the garden. After all, you can always compost your mistakes, or whatever grows instead of your mistakes.

Anyway, armed with more enthusiasm than knowledge, I sent the older kids to their room this morning to dig out any spare boxes they had. (Most people despair over their children preferring the boxes to the toys they enclosed; we just skip the toys and give the kids boxes in the first place.)

As soon as the babies were napping, we broke down the boxes and spread them out over an area of the yard. In the past I’ve tried to work in areas that were already disturbed or used for planting; this time I’m going straight for the prime real estate, the patch of sun by the fence, with rich, soft soil from a decade of neglected “lawn.”

Its primary drawback–besides the grass and whatever else–has been drainage. It borders on the wettest part of the yard, and is too wet for planting in the spring. So I started building raised beds (and water-draining areas) by just digging up the turf next to the cardboard and tossing it on top, upside down. (On further reflection, I should have aerated under the cardboard first. I’ll try to remember to do that on the next beds.

After I’d made a layer of somewhat chopped-up turf, I pulled down a bunch of vines that were overtaking the deck and some of the fencing and tossed those on top. I want to add a layer of brown leaves now, but I realized I don’t have a rake. I’m going to try to catch the neighbor next time she’s out and ask her if she’d like to rake her leaves in my direction instead of all the way out to the curb. For some reason hardly any leaves land in our yard.

The plan is then to keep dumping stuff on top of these piles for the rest of the fall, then letting them compost themselves over winter and plant some vegetable crops there in the spring. The kids are begging for cucumbers, but I’m also thinking about doing the Three Sisters, corn, beans, and squash, in that spot.

I rather imprudently put a compost bin in this spot a couple of years ago. I may want to move it, but I’m not sure where or how. It’s starting to fall apart. Maybe I’ll just plant around it for now. I do need a bin for composting the kitchen scraps (which I also got back to doing today–I had abandoned it during the first trimester when I couldn’t stomach taking them out any more and no one could do it for me.)

Whether I can follow through this time remains to be seen. I got all enthusiastic trying to mulch and build beds last fall, and then I got pregnant with the twins and it all just grew over weeds again. Or native plants.  But the twins themselves should prevent anything like that from happening this time.


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