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How I spent my Summer – In the Garden

harvest

Part of the harvest

I tore out the old garden and built a new one made up of five large cedar boxes. It was ridiculously easy because I ordered the kit with pre-cut wood and metal corners. All I had to do was screw them together and that means Matt had to screw them together. I moved them into place. Then came the hard part. I had to fill them with dirt.

I started with three boxes. I dug up all of the good garden soil from the old garden. I moved about 18 wheelbarrows full of dirt. By my estimation that was about 54 bags of dirt at 40 pounds each. This was not even close to enough. I bought another 25 bags of soil at 40 pounds a piece. I moved them to the back yard and dumped them into the boxes. The next day I felt like I had been hit by a bus. That was some seriously hard work. But I was not done. Three boxes were not enough, so I ordered two more. I bought more bags of soil and I moved more dirt. In total, I bought 64 bags of soil. By my calculations, I moved about 2.6 tons of dirt. Needless to say, I counted this as exercise.

Once the boxes were filled I planted zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, Swiss chard and mustard greens. The soil in the box was fresh and full of manure. The garden thrived all summer.  I was absolutely overrun with tomatoes.  Most of them, we just plain ate.  Some I turned into spaghetti sauce and crushed tomatoes.

Potatoes

Potatoes

Later in the season I planted a wildflower garden on the bare spot where the old garden used to be. I have flowers everywhere and the butterflies and bees are delighted.

I also planted potatoes in containers, which produced a nice little crop.  Gosh, I love growing potatoes.

blueberries

The blueberry bush flourished this year. It produced at least four quarts.  I also planted two plum trees. They were under assault by Japanese beetles, which were really bad this year. I put a beetle trap out and it filled in about a week. It was a pretty disgusting pile of bugs, but it seemed to help. I did get a few plums. I would expect more next year.

We were out on a pick your own farm one day when I found peanut plants. Oh, how I wanted to grow peanuts. I planted them and in about one day the squirrel had dug them up. You see, peanut plants are grown from peanuts and the squirrel dug right down to the root and found that orb of squirrel delight. I tried re-planting but it was a waste of time. He kept digging. Next year I will make sure those are covered.

The grape-vine is growing. I moved the asparagus bed and I transplanted my herbs to a new bed. Grapes, asparagus and even herbs take a few years to really get established. So we just have to be patient. I placed some of the herbs plants in different spots around the yard. The thyme and the oregano are growing near the shed. The mint is on the sunny side of the house and the sage is by the bird bath. I like to walk around and pick stuff as if it is wild.

I had so many dandelions this year that I decided to let them grow so I could harvest them. Yes, dandelions are edible. You can buy them at the Whole Foods Market. I don’t use any lawn chemicals so I would be picking an organic crop. I have to admit, they are an acquired taste. They can be bitter, like chicory, and just as tough. But for some reason I like them, particularly with feta cheese. They are also really good in soup with ham and white beans.

After they seemed to be big enough I picked some and I had a salad. These were particularly chewy and bitter. I guess that is what happens when they grow wild. I ate them. Matt did not.

Our two maple trees out front were looking pretty bad. The bark was turning black and the branches were dying off. I called the arborist and he confirmed they were dying of a fungus and could not be saved. So we had them cut down. When they were here I had them prune up the rest of the trees. It took two days. I loved them being here. I can never not talk to tree guys. Most days I wish I were an arborist. I love to plant trees. I never have enough space to plant as much as I want. So we talked about the trees, how they looked in terms of overall health, and what to plant instead.

As they cut and pruned, they sent the branches into the chipper and out came wood chips. The young man certainly could see I was interested, so he offered to leave the chips behind. I said, how much is there. About a cord, maybe two. I have no idea what a cord is but I said, sure, why not.

They dumped a gigantic pile of wood chips on my driveway.   It was easily four feet high and about six feet wide.  My job, spread it out. I was kind of worried that it had not been given time to properly season itself, breaking down somewhat before I used it. But it was mostly oak and cedar from the arborvitae they trimmed and it was not going to break down anytime soon. So I went ahead and mulched the entire property.

Mulch pile

The much-reduced mulch pile. By this time, I am toward the end of it.

I used a snow shovel to move the chips. It was big and light. It worked beautifully. I had so much mulch that I was able to put down chips around just about every tree and planting area in the yard. This much mulch would have cost me a fortune. It took about two weeks to get it done, largely because it kept raining. The neighbors who walk their dogs every day marveled as the pile got smaller and smaller. One guy pumped his bicep at me. Honestly, mulch is not that heavy. The hard part was filling the wheelbarrow and dumping it around because it took so many trips.

I love being outside, I love digging, I love the smell of freshly mowed grass and I love eating food I have grown.

 

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