March 20, 2011 - Getting in Shape For Spring Planting

Yes, I'm getting in shape for spring planting. Mr. Granny and I are eating lighter and healthier meals, and I'm trying to remember to do a few stretching exercises before heading out to work in the garden.

We finally got a warm, sunny day yesterday, which was perfect for a full day of garden cleanup and preparation. Since my young son didn't show up to help (two days in a row), as he'd promised, I tackled the hauling of soil from one side of the yard all the way to the other side, and managed to get the lettuce bed in place and filled. I am actually moving today, so I guess the stretching exercises help somewhat.

I decided the PVC pipes that form the hoops over the bed needed to be moved just a bit, so that the clamps spanned the two corner boards, which would do double duty in reinforcing the corners. As I removed the screws that were holding the clamps, which were holding the arced PVC, there was no way I wanted to be outdone by The Idiot Gardener. Therefore, I let my grip on the PVC loosen slightly, which caused said PVC to unbend itself and whack me right in the nose. No permanent damage was done, so once the pain subsided I got the first PVC end firmly clamped and screwed back in place. I moved on to the second one and, being a slow learner, got hit in the nose once more. I did, however, manage not to repeat it with the remaining two ends, and thanked the heavens above that the metal clamps had flown off before the PVC hit me in the face. It could have been worse!

There was a small amount of compost in the bottom of the compost barrel, so I layered that onto the new lettuce bed, then I found about a half cup of chicken poop, left over from last year, and scattered that over the top. I added a few shovels of the composted dairy manure from the pile nearby, and worked everything into the bed. Then I scattered on a few handfuls of alfalfa pellets and worked them into the top couple of inches, and raked everything smooth. This morning it's raining, so everything should settle nicely. All there is left to do is put the plastic netting on to protect it from the birds, then plant the seedlings.

Fast forward to this morning:

Young son found out we aren't dieting on Sundays, so he showed up for a brunch of sausages, hash browns, eggs and toasted home made bread. I made him pay. He finished filling the 4' x 8' box with soil from the east garden, then topped it off with dairy compost. We had some repairs to do to the boxes, removing the old screws and replacing them with new longer ones. There weren't enough good boards, of the right size, to make the entire bed 12" deep, so I'm doing a split level. The back 4' x 4' is a foot deep, the front 4' x 4' is six inches deep. It keeps things interesting.

The two new beds are filled and nearly ready for planting. Otto was already using the lower part of the split bed as his own personal napping spot, so I had to find some small wire fencing to keep him out. I'm hoping he won't get into the upper bed, as I really don't want to have to buy more fencing. Once the composted manure pile has been used up on the remaining beds, that spot will likely hold some type of summer (bush) squash. I haven't yet decided if I'll try morning glories on the ladder again this year. I might just use it for pole beans.

Eventually the small bed behind the shed (with the hoops) will hold the first lettuce seedlings, and they will be replaced with new plants as we use them up. It gets sun for much of the day, but is shaded from the hot afternoon sun, so I'm hoping I won't have to provide additional shade to keep the lettuce producing through the summer months. The split bed will be for cabbages, broccoli and spring planted garlic and shallots.

Most of the north garden is cleaned up and ready for planting. Only the strawberry and pole bean beds have yet to be cleaned up. I was going to remove these fence posts, but with Otto wanting to sleep on the beds, maybe I'll just buy a roll of plastic mesh fencing and string it across the back. I wouldn't even have to worry about a gate, as I can gain access to the garden from the back door of the shed. I'm not going to let the sparrows nest in the bird houses this year, they're so destructive in the garden. Until I can get something glued to the inside to plug the hole, a fat stick will have to do.

I need a bigger table for sunning the seedlings. The lettuce will have to be planted soon.

The broccoli and cabbages are getting their first true leaves. They are destined to be leggy plants, I guess. I keep them about an inch below the lights when they aren't outside in the sunshine, and grow them in a cool environment. I've never grown a stocky brassica, but they don't seem to mind having their lanky stems buried a bit at planting time.

Tomatoes and peppers are up. All of the peppers germinated, as well as most of the tomatoes. I guess I'm destined to never enjoy the flavor of a Sungold. Last year they didn't grow true, and new seeds this year just will not germinate for me. I'll be putting my final few seeds into wet coffee filters, in a plastic bag, to see if I can get any of them to sprout.

I'm on my way to the store now, to buy a can of exterior paint. I'll try to get all of the garden boxes and the raspberry posts painted in between rain showers. We're supposed to have a couple of days in the 60s this week, so it should be good painting weather.


  1. Good for you making young son pay for his brunch!

    Glad you weren't hurt worse by getting whacked in the nose! It just have stung good at the time, though!

    Hoping Otto's stubby legs will keep him out of the 12" high bed.

  2. My you have been one busy bee! Everything looks terrific, and your way ahead of the game with your seedlings ready to be put into the boxes , I'm jealous :o( but encouraged :o)

  3. I'm more than half your age and the amount of work you did this weekend made me tired and puts me to shame!

    I did get over to Mac's this morning and got a whole crapload of...crap!! And a couple of scoops of twig/leaf to go with it. All my new beds are filled and now I need some more rain to settle it. Go figure, it quit raining as we put the dirt in the boxes. I think I shall get a bale of peat moss and a bag or 2 of perlite this week to add and call it good.

    Yay for the good weather!

  4. You got a lot done, as always. What's the purpose of the alfalfa pellets?

  5. Alison, shhhhh....we don't tell Otto he has dwarf legs. He thinks he's a Great Dane!

    Thanks, Ginny!

    Sheena, I just got a big bag of vermiculite at Lowe's for $21.11. I also bought 3 huge planters for my front yard, now I have to figure out what to fill them with!

    If you get peat moss, cut a hole in the bag and pour in lots of HOT water. Or shovel it into a wheelbarrow and add the hot water. Otherwise, using cold water, it takes forever for it to absorb.

    Dianefaith, I use the alfalfa pellets as a quick release gentle nitrogen source for my greens. I also feed them to my rabbit. I take good care of that bunny, it won't hurt him to share. after all, he's the one who'll eat most of that lettuce!


  6. I thin you and Mr. Granny need to throw a few situps into the exercise program too. Haha...
    Seriously though, you've definitely been busy in the garden, and I expect it will do excellent as always....

  7. Now, now, EG. Mr. Granny really needs those sit ups, I need me some arm muscle builder-uppers!

  8. Great looking seedlings and garden area. Sure looks amazing. Well done!

  9. So the son didn't show up originally because he feared there were no goodies to eat? LOL! I cringed at the thought of you getting into a scuffle with the PVC, ow! Pretty soon we won't have to try so hard to eat well, we'll be inundated with fresh choices - lookin' good, Gran!

  10. It looks like you have been busy. I still have so much work to do. And your seedlings seem to be doing well. That reminds me I have to go check on mine this morning.