Friday, May 11, 2012

Vegetables, Meet Soil: Ready? Set? Grow!!!

Finally got my tomatoes and peppers in the ground, even though “finally” is a misconception.  I bought plants this year; I planned to grow my own from seeds, but my days got away from me and I let the seeds dry out under their lights.  It is definitely not “late” to be planting starts, but it feels like it because I would be so far behind if I were starting seeds.

My former employer, Distinctive Gardens, grows awesome, organic tomato and pepper starts for sale.  They love the funky and the heirloom, and Bud has a thing for hot peppers.  Hot is not my thing, but even the selection of sweet peppers was enticing.

This year I built (okay, Steve did most of the work building these!) two more raised beds, built out of 2x10 construction lumber (whoops, did I do 8-inchers last year??) and treated with boiled linseed oil to prolong their life in the weather.  Treated wood is not an option in my garden, I do not want treatment chemicals leaching into my soils and thus into my food.

Because I accidentally built these beds bigger my normal 10 bags of topsoil supplemented with my composted horse manure (see?  She’s good for something!) was not enough.  The ONE bed took all 20 bags!  That’s okay, though.  I can go back for another load.

So, finally I get to fill those beds and plant those vegetables.  20 bags is 800 pounds of topsol.  That is a lot of hefting, especially at the end of a long day of planting for work.  I got it done, though.

The starts are beautiful, good color and reaching for the sky.  The planting is easy, with all that loose soil, so my soil knife (A.M. Leonard, you will never use another tool!) is sufficient for the planting.

It feels right to be caressing the soil, gently firming around the baby plants.  I stick the tag beside each plant and their names intrigue and amuse me: Red Rose, Big Bertha, Mule Team, Chablis.  They spark my imagination for late summer, when I will be picking luscious fruits from the vines.  That is, IF they grow well and I am not neglectful. 

Last year I got a couple measly peppers and zero tomatoes.  What appears to have happened is a drift of herbicide that sought and found my ‘maters.  They never grew except marginally and in the most contorted way.  Disappointed, I pulled them all.

This year I am hopeful.  I still have another bed to fill and plant, and plenty of seeds that can be direct-sown.  Cut cattle panels will make fantastic bean trellises, and compost will make wonderful mounds in which to grow melons and pumpkins. I WILL nurture these plants and I WILL enjoy the fruits of my harvest this Fall.

Watch me.

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