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.
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.