Our 2021 garden: one last bed, and transplants

Today, I built what should be the last garden bed for the year. This one is for the climbers.

Here is what the space looked like when I started.

New garden bed location.

The original plan was to use the remaining chimney blocks, like the one in the photo, as planters along the chain link fence, but they remain in the basement until we can figure some thing out, and it is not a priority.

cardboard layer

We’ve been saving up our cardboard, and had just enough to create a barrier layer, which got a thorough soaking.

straw layer

The next layer was the straw, which is also the mulch to cover the path between the new bed and the flower bed beside it. I was able to get some of the straw at the bottom of the bale that has had time to start breaking down, too, which was great! This layer, like all the layers, got a thorough soaking – after I beat it flat with the back of a fan rake.

kitchen compost layer

Then, because we had some, I emptied our kitchen compost along the fence line, which got tromped on before a soak.

There wasn’t much. We don’t get a chance to accumulate much for the compost pile. It tends to get used right away!

grass clippings layer

We still have grass clippings, so a thick layer of it got laid down.

shredded paper layer

We’ve been keeping our compost-safe paper for shredding, and I had a bag full to add for another layer. After giving it a soaking, my daughter tromped it down for me, while I went to get a load of soil. This was from the nearby tarp covered pile in the outer yard. When I pulled back the tarp, I just had to call the girls over to take a look!

finding weeds

The white tarp allowed enough light through for the weeds to start growing, and grow they did!! They were huge!

These are mostly lambsquarter, which are supposed to be edible and very healthy. Better than spinach!!! At least that’s what the breathless Pinterest images that have started to show up in my feed are all exclaiming. Maybe some day we’ll try them, but for now, they are growing in places we want other things to be growing (or, in the case of our soil pile, nothing to be growing!), so we’re pulling them. Still, it was something else to see how big they got under that tarp! It actually is encouraging, since we plan to build polytunnels and high raised beds in the outer yard, eventually.

soil layer

Finally, a thick layer of garden soil was added to the new bed, with a trench down the middle to hold water. My daughter did catch me before I made the new bed too wide. With the one we made for the tomatoes, we’re finding it a bit hard to reach, even though we ended up narrowing it down when we added more soil for the transplants. We’ve noticed the same issue with the beds of spinach, carrots and onions. They’re only about 3-4′ wide, but they are low beds right now, and we’re short. It’s hard to reach the middle while bending down so far; our balance goes off kilter. Especially for my daughters who, unlike me, have not had their generous proportions surgically reduced. That really affects center of balance! It would not be an issue with the tall raised beds we plan to build, but we need to remember that, for low beds, they need to be narrower. Especially if we can reach from only one side, like these along the fence.

One thing that was an unexpected issue is that the chain link fence on this side is higher above the ground at the bottom than on the other side of the gate.

soil spill

Which means that the damp cardboard flaps against the fence couldn’t quite hold the soil in some places! Which is fine. We’ll work around it.

transplants

After filling the trench in the soil with water to soak it, I brought over the cucamelons that have sprouted (most did not, but that’s okay; we planted way more than needed!), as well as the gourds. The bucket and plant pot have the cucamelon tubers in peat that I dug up from last year, to see if they would grow this year. Time to dump them out and find out if they survived!

peat in a wheelbarrow

They did not.

Aside from a few wispy root clumps and what may have been the dried outer skin of a tuber, I found nothing. They had completely decomposed.

Well, that just left me with some peat I could make use of.

peat trench

So I widened the trench I’d made before, added some peat to it, and watered it again.

Then it was time to do the transplanting.

transplanted cucamelons and gourds

The cucamelons were all in their own Jiffy pellets, so they were easy to space out. I planted even the tiny ones. If they make it, great. If not, at least they had a fighting chance! Our cucamelons from last year were quite prolific, even in less than ideal conditions. This location gets much more light, so I expect them to do even better, here. If all grows well, this fence will be completely covered with climbing vines!

Of the gourds, the pot that had 2 Ozark Nest Egg seedlings had sprouted a third! I’d forgotten I’d planted 3 seeds in the cups. The pot that first sprouted still had only one, plus there is the one Thai Edible Bottle gourd. These are in Jiffy pots, so the ones with just one seedling in them got planted whole. The one that had three in them, I gently broke it open along one side and sort of unrolled the contents to separate the seedlings. One of them just sprouted today, so it’s unlikely to survive, but who knows? It might do even better than the others. 🙂 I believe in you, little sproot!

That done, I had some more transplanting to do. I’d put the last of our Norstar onion seeds into a Solo cup, and they not only sprouted, but are starting to form bulbs!

The girls and I had talked about where to put them, and the border of the asparagus bed seemed the best place.

bulb onion transplants

The onions are shallow growers, and there’s plenty of space between them and where the asparagus are, so this should be fine. At this stage, I doubt they will reach full maturity, but they will help deter critters and insects. There were more seedlings than would fit here, so I added the last of them in front of the Mosaic Mix tomatoes. There had been some bunching onions transplanted there before, but they were the tiniest, wimpiest ones that we probably shouldn’t have bothered with, and only 3 were still alive. Which is fine. There are more bunching onions in front of the Spoon tomatoes. We’ll see how these ones do!

That’s pretty much it for the transplanting. We should probably plant the one Hopi Black Dye sunflower that finally sprouted. Since there’s just the one, I’m thinking of planting it somewhere else, like in the old kitchen garden. The pink celery will go into a pot that we can move in and out of the sun room, as needed, but they are way too tiny to do anything with, yet.

Which means that tomorrow, it’s back to the other garden beds. The pea trellises need to be finished, the squash tunnel needs to be worked on, and the summer squash needs a garden soil top up, before getting mulched with straw. Somewhere in there, I need to actually mow around the main garden beds. It’s getting pretty out of control around there! For the old garden area, I’m seriously considering using the weed trimmer, instead. It’ll take longer, but I won’t have to worry about hitting rocks or lumps of soil with the lawnmower. Also, of course, weeding. Especially in the corn and sunflower blocks. All the stuff that barely grew there before have had the most moisture and inadvertent tending since… ever, and they’re really liking it! 😀

The main thing is that, aside from the pink celery and that one sunflower, we’re done the transplanting! Anything else that didn’t germinate by now, isn’t going to. We won’t be tending those pots anymore.

Aaaannnndd….

It was getting late, so I paused and took the pink celery seedlings indoors, then went ahead and transplanted the one Hopi Black Dye sunflower in the old kitchen garden, in the bed we planted the poppies in. So that’s done now, too!

Today was a good day of progress! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

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