Friday, October 17, 2008

New beds are ready

I'm enjoying a quiet night in tonight. Why? Because I'm tired. Today, I finished preparing three new planting beds for the spring.

This has been no small task. It began late in the summer, my neighbours (David and Alison) and I decided a weedy tree needed to come down. Alison and her dad took down the top, then she and I spent a sweaty day getting the stump out.

This summer, I had great success with my first bed, which I hastily prepared after moving in back in June. The tomato plants are taking on triffid-like characteristics, as you can see from the photo above. The rainbow chard has been producing steadily and is delicious. We got a couple pounds of carrots, and the lettuces were delicious, if a bit short-lived this year. So, on the back of that minor success, I've decided it's time to plunge headlong into urban agriculture.

The backyard proved intriguing. The worst part was wrestling the tree roots out of the ground. That made the first bed (the one on the left in the photo below) the hardest. The second (on the right) was a bit of work because, much to my surprise, there was a path made of 2'x2' patio stones buried about 8" below the surface. And about 3" of crushed limestone below that. The two beds are about 25' x 4' with a narrow path in between, so I can tend them without stepping in the beds and compacting the soil. I added another 15' x 3' bed below my back deck, too.

I dug down 18-24" to loosen, turn and mix the soils. Then I added some humus (I've just found a non-peat alternative that I will use next time, as peat moss is far from environmentally friendly) and dug it in. Next, I spread 100 kg of sheep manure (many friends have already commented how much this sounds like my professional life) and raked it in. I figure some of the nutrients will work their way down over winter. I'll probably scatter leaves as they fall, as they make good mulch.

Then I moved two rose bushes to the base of the beds. With simple trellises, I'm hoping these will soon screen the shed and composter somewhat. I'll be planting garlic around the roses, as they're said to be good companions. I also planted strawberry plants that my dad gave me, now that he's decided to stop growing them, and in the bed closest to the back door put in an oregano and a sage. Hope they survive the winter. Will do the other herbs tomorrow and cross my fingers.

So, now I'm relaxing with a pleasant stiffness in my body, and can begin dreaming about spring planting.


KarenInTo said...

KEEP. WATERING. THE ROSES! On first transplant they really need wet feet. Have you looked at coir for drainage as another alternative to peat? No nutrients until it starts to decompose.

And what did you do with those 2x2 pavers? (hint hint)

Craig Saunders said...

Right now the pavers are just stacked. I might break them up and use them to pave the path between the two main beds. There are only 5 or 6 of 'em.