Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weekend Gardening

In 6 years of spending Valentine's together, I'm pretty sure I've never gotten Josh a gift. While we don't really do the whole hallmark holiday thing, he has gotten me a few small things throughout the years and I figured for our seventh Valentine's, I'd actually get him a gift. The poor guy's been asking for a wheelbarrow for about 4 years. That's right, all of this gardening and we've never had a wheelbarrow. Instead, he's been shoveling dirt onto a tarp and dragging it where he needs it to go. This is cheap, but also very labor intensive. So, I decided to surprise him with a wheelbarrow. When I got to the store though, I saw this contraption that seemed like it might be easier to use:

There is a latch at the front of it that you pull that enables you dump the cart as well (and the back wheels pull forward as you dump, which makes it a little easier). So today, he built another 3'x12' bed and filled it with soil, manure and compost.

I hand weeded the strawberry beds while he was doing that. It might seem tedious or a waste of time to do it that way (especially when we have a stirrup hoe for this purpose), but it's really a sort of calming activity. You have to pay attention to what's in front of you when you're weeding. You need to learn what the seedlings of your plants look like so you only pull the weeds and not your new plants. This sort of garden awareness is best learned by experience and can be quite handy to have. For instance, knowing some differences between new grass blades and new onion leaves helped us find out there were wild onions growing in our backyard when we moved here. My oldest still needs supervision, but weeding is a great activity for her--she wants to help and getting close to the ground with her gives us the opportunity to teach her about identifying plants. We also get to see lots of critters moving about and inevitably end up discussing why different bugs are where they are and what they do. It's a great teachable moment as well as a way to help her very active brain and body calm down and focus on one small place.

Our seedlings are doing very well. Out of 141 pots, 137 ended up with healthy looking tomato seedlings. Josh's tomato seed he saved turned out to have a fantastic germination rate---better than anything we bought. Good to know this is a skill our household has available...we'll be saving lots more seed this year. All of our zucchini, squash, cucumbers and prescott fond blanc melons have sprouted. Peppers are still waiting, but I don't expect them up until next week. Cantaloupe should have come up and hasn't, so I did a little investigating and out of 4 seeds I dug up, only 1 had the starts of a root growing. I left the rest and we'll see what happens.

We planted blueberries this year. It's a bit of an experiment because our soil is too alkaline and requires some acidification for blueberries to thrive. We must have done the initial transplanting well because each twig has buds of new growth on it! Some of our fruit trees are also preparing for spring growth. This will be the second year for the other trees--it'll be great if we get a couple of fruits!

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