Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GREEN: A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening (Part 1)

GREEN: A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening

            I’ve been wanting to garden for quite some time now.  Two and a half years ago, my mom got me a potted herb garden for Christmas…I kind of tried, and very much failed.  Last spring, I had every intention to start a garden.  I even dragged Steve to a gardening club talk at the library to learn more.  But after still not really knowing where to begin, those ideas went nowhere.
Then last fall, we moved.  With the house came a big, beautiful backyard complete with lots of trees and a marsh in the back (so no one can build behind us!).  After a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to get some stuff for the house, we also bought our first trash can compost with the idea of having some great soil to add to our garden in the spring  (that part didn’t work so well as none of it decomposed enough to use, but anyway…).  I skipped the building the compost part, but have nice little pile going in the back.
This spring, I was determined.  I would start small, but I would do it. 
Unfortunately, our big backyard did not provide a great space for gardening as there are so many trees.  Then Steve gave me a kind “no, maybe next year” to my request of using the only decent spot of at the landscaped/flower area that actually gets sunlight in the back.  This left me to a spot next to the house that only gets sunlight for part of the day.  But hey, I could work with it!
Phase One: Planning
Okay, so I had the location picked out (or, approved of by Steve).  With that came the question “Now what?”.  I still didn’t know where to begin.  So I threw out the question on Facebook  (I love Facebook for questions…I have some very intelligent and informative friends!).  My one friend told me all he did was throw some soil on the ground and add seeds.  Maybe I was making thinks more difficult then they need to be?

I did some other research on the computer too.   I found some plants and herbs that could grow in partial sunlight…thank goodness kale was one of them!  I also looked up a few videos on how to build a garden box…Steve was not a fan of the idea just throwing organic soil on the ground.

Phase 2, Part 1: Implementation-Building the Garden Box

Finally, it was time for some action.  One Friday evening as Steve and the kids were shooting hoops outside, I took a shovel and started to churn the soil where the garden was to be.  I really ended up churning a bunch of clay.  I thought it would soften up, but it did not.  In other words, this ended up being a complete waste of time.

We also measured how big our garden box would be.

A week later (after visiting a garden store, I found out that I was way ahead of schedule and even they have very few plants available), Steve and I took a trip to the Home Depot to buy the lumber to build our garden box, plus organic soil to build it up with.

After walking around the garden center and pretending to look like we fit it, we started asking the employees some questions. Soon, a very kind young woman pointed us to a garden box kit, where all a person needed to do was slide the wood into slots.  I kind of felt like this was cheating, but Steve was sold-plus, he was the one paying for it.  It wasn’t the cheapest thing in the world (I think around $90), but it was really easy to put together and looks quite nice.  (I would have been much less elaborate, buying some would plans and nailing them together.)

Before checking out, we picked up 4 bags of organic soil and some chicken wire (We get a lot of deer where we live.  While I love them, I do not want them eating my food).  The bill was well over $100 dollars, in case anyone is working this into their budget in the future. 

We also took a few minutes to take silly pictures (further proving to anyone watching that Home Depot was not a natural hangout spot for us)

Then it was back home to start building!
But not so fast…we realized we needed to first level the spot where our garden was going to be, so we had to shovel out the dirt/clay into a big pile. Our first thought was that we were going to be able to put some back in the garden box with the organic soil.  Once we got honest with ourselves, we realized that was definitely not an option.  Nothing was going to grow from that dirt!
We put together our garden box with relative ease, pet Pacer for a bit, and filled half the garden box with our 4 bags of soil...

...which meant we had to go back to Home Depot for 4 more bags (plus a tiny “top” piece for the aesthetic nature of the garden box that was missing.)
Home Depot , Take 2

With that, we drove back home, filled up the second half of the garden box, put in the final screw (after looking around for it for 5 minutes) and were done for the day! 

(I somehow managed to forget to take a picture of the finished product)

While this really only took a few short hours, we were still pretty tired so took some time to relax with Pacer:
I then talked to some friends and realized I shouldn’t plant anything until mid/end of May to assure there would be no more frost, unless I wanted to star growing in pots indoors (I did not).  So the garden box has sat untouched (except by Pacer) for the past few weeks.

I hope to start planting this Sunday if I have any energy left after the Girls on the Run 5k, so hopefully Part 2 will be coming soon!