So much for timely planting

May 15th is supposed to be the last spring frost date, which means I should feel free to plant my garden any time after that date. Unfortunately, it has been cool and rainy. Heck, even my furnace keeps coming on occasionally. What the heck is up with that? Sigh.

My tomato plants arrived today. I guess they are going to have to bide their time inside the house for right now, because I don’t think they would be happy outside. I have all my garden seeds now. I’m only planting a few things. I like a lot of green beans, so I have plenty of seeds for them. It’s just me I am growing for, but I put green beans and tomatoes up if I have enough. Hopefully I will.

In addition to tomatoes and green beans, I am going to plant summer squash, bush pickling cucumbers (hate cucumbers, love pickles – go figure), and beets. I’ll have to see how much room I have for everything once I can start planting. I already know that I’m going to put the tomato plants at the back of the garden because I think they will get the most sun back there, but the rest of the garden is up for grabs. I’ve gardened long enough not to have to plan out every inch of the garden and just lay it out as I go along. As long as I know what I’m planting and how it grows, I should be good. Now if only this damn weather would cooperate.

Root Patrol – Part 2

Ok, axe in hand, I tackled those roots again – much easier. But damn, there were a lot of them. Shouldn’t be a surprise considering how close that huge maple tree is. I guess I just didn’t expect them to be so close to the surface. I’m probably killing the poor tree, but that would solve my shade problem. While I am not trying to kill the tree, I have to admit I wouldn’t mind if it was gone. Since I’m only renting here, I don’t really have the right to take it down myself.

So, how many roots could there have been, you ask? This many –

Garden051913A

What a pain in the butt. There are still more small roots out there which I am sure I will uncover when I do the final tilling. Still, if you think those were a pain, these were the reason I needed the axe –

Garden051913BThose long suckers just went on forever and were tied to many of the smaller crossing roots. The axe got a good workout, as did I. In the end, I prevailed. One final tilling and then I’ll be able to plant.

Root Patrol

Today was the day to scout out those roots. I found them, but there wasn’t a lot I could do about most of them. Unfortunately I don’t have anything with which to cut them out. I have a sledge hammer, and I did bust a couple out using that, but using brute force was not going to work as a real solution, so next week I’m going to stop and buy an axe. I can still swing a mean sledge hammer, but no sense killing myself with that effort.

The Beginning

You can’t have a garden without turning over some soil, so here we go. Big Red did it’s job today. Breaking new sod is always a pain. I know; back in my younger days I used to rent myself and my tiller out to do other people’s gardens. Today it was enough to do this small plot of garden, which measures approximately 16 feet x 25 feet.

Garden050613B Many, many passes later it is in relatively good shape, but will need additional work before it is ready to be a garden. The view above is facing towards the back of the garden. To see why I was, and am, having issues with this space, let’s look towards the front.

Garden050613AThe garden is behind my garage, being the only really open space I have in my backyard. Unfortunately, I have a very large maple tree in the middle of my backyard, seen in the upper left of the photo. It shades the entire garden for at least half of the day. So much for planting my vegetables in full sun. I am hoping that there will be enough full sun available later in the day to let the plants grow well. I guess that remains to be seen.

The real issue with the tree, though, is its roots. As I was tilling, poor Big Red was taking a bit of a beating when it came across the roots. All of a sudden it would begin to bounce and I knew there was something underground. It was all I could do today, though, to break ground and make several passes to get it as turned over as I could. I will have to go out another day and scout out those roots and remove them. Hopefully there won’t be too many and I will be able to finish tilling at full depth without further problems.

For now, though, it was a good day’s work. I’m beat, but it’s a good feeling to have this started. I’m back in the saddle again.

Back Home Again

It’s been many years since I last had a garden. Once upon a time I did a massive amount of gardening, food preserving and homesteading type activities, but things changed. It is tempting to blame external circumstances, but as in so many things all it really comes down to is a loss of heart and a slide into a life not worth living.

This year, something clicked. For the past several years my gardening has consisted solely of raising petunias in a couple of big pots, and I haven’t even done that for the last two years. But this year, I wanted a garden again. As a matter of fact, I’ve already ordered some special tomato plants from Burpee to see how they do.

Way back when I had a very large garden, my wife and I bought a 7HP Troy-built “Horse” rototiller. It would have been difficult doing that much gardening without the use of that machine, even though it was a big investment and meant spending money we didn’t really have. When we moved in to the city, “Big Red” came along with us. I thought he was safe parked in our locked garage, but somehow he managed to escape into the wild. One morning I went to the garage to find the door open and Big Red and many of his buddies missing.

While I was living out on the farm where we had a big garden, my parents would occasionally come to visit for birthdays and such. My father saw my gardening efforts and how useful Big Red was, and he must have been bitten by the gardening bug because just a couple of years later he bought his own Big Red. He was pretty proud of his garden and did pretty well, but eventually my mom decided she didn’t want to deal with freezing garden produce and my dad scaled back the garden, eventually turning it back to lawn.

This meant that his Big Red rototiller was sitting idle, and after mine was stolen he decided to give his tiller to my brother and me, with the stipulation that it was a family resource that we would all need to share. It mostly lived with me – in a much better secured garage – and made occasional trips to my brother’s house. I used it to turn over my garden in the city, even though it was a bit of overkill.

My circumstances changed and Big Red sat idle for several years, as I did little with it other than to occasionally turn over my wife’s garden. Last year my nephew needed to use it to do some work at a new house he had purchased, so it got trucked over there and spent the winter. This spring, though, I heard Big Red calling my name . . . and I listened.

BigRedBig Red is back home again.