29 July 2009

Revamping the Vegetable Garden - Again

July is the worst time in the vegetable garden, I think. It's so hot that it's a wonder anything will grow. It's when the squirrels , birds or rats(?) have found the tomatoes and this year it was when we took our vacation. Since we were going to be gone for more than a week and our garden would go to heck, I decided to start the process of revamping the garden early.

I decided to do raised beds again, but this time I'm using something inexpensive, but durable - concrete blocks. I really didn't want to do raised beds, but our yard had some flooding issues this spring - the last of our potatoes rotted and our bush bean seedings didn't like being in standing water - I can understand that. I've done raised beds before out of wood, but I had problems with rot and wood is expensive. I really considered pressure-treated landscape timbers, but I would have to use too many to get any kind of height. We are talking about raised beds here. We have some neighbors who made their beds from concrete blocks, two blocks high, and they really like them. I think for starters I'm only going to do one row of blocks - that's eight inches, which I think is a respectable height.

I've done the math and I think I can fit three to four 4x8 concrete block raised beds in the part of the yard we use as our vegetable garden. Before we left on our trip, I started on preparations. Since our most recent vegetable garden was hastily laid out and dug, I've had a huge problem controlling weeds and grass. I laid extra pieces of pond liner (EDPM/PVC) - black rubber, essentially) over the area that will be the future garden. It's been down almost three weeks now - I glanced under the edge and it doing a pretty good job of killing the grass. In addition to depriving it of light and water, the black plastic is also cooking the soil - killing weed seeds , etc. I'll be leaving it at least another week and then I'll be laying out the first of three or four raised beds.

It looks like I'll have plenty to plant in the next few weeks, from late summer crops tomatoes and beans to fall crops like onions, garlic, lettuce and maybe potatoes(?). All of my neighbors that "farm" have never planted potatoes in the fall, but the local planting guide says you can. I'll have to try it and see how they grow. I'll let you know.

My Week of Not Gardening

I had the past week off with the intent of doing some serious gardening, but it did not happen. School was over for our daughter the week before, which meant that it was about the first time since Xmas I had more than one day to sleep in, and boy, did I! I was so unmotivated in the mornings. By midday, it was 90 degrees and humid - then it would rain buckets in the evening. Everything I planned to do involved digging in the dirt - or, this week - MUD.

Thinking I had a full plate this week, I did a few of those things last week instead. I edged the driveway and walkway. It didn't take too long and the satisfaction I got from it was good. The same goes for weeding the desert garden. Leftover grass and weeds keep rearing their ugly heads and I wanted to make it presentable when my mom and grandmother visit at the end of the week. Grass had invaded my sedum patch and I had to pull it out from the roots, nearly one blade at a time, so I didn't destroy the sedum. Any future weeds and grass will be thoroughly Roundupped!

I should have know what kind of week it was going to be from the way Monday went. I talked to my dad a few weeks ago about visiting some family land to gather some plants for the yard. I quizzed him over t he phone about what plants I wanted and he thought this property had it all - ferns, orchids, pitcher plants. Many chiggers and tick bites later, there was only one type of fern, but my dad enjoyed himself riding us around which was a good thing.

You'll have to excuse me if I don't write anymore about this week. It wasn't very good and I'm finishing this entry about six weeks after it happened. I wish I could say it's because I've been hard at work in the gardening, but I can't. I'm afraid that TV and these hot Charleston summers have made me procrastinate. I promise that in the near future I will be posting more about our little piece of the world.