Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness--Trailer Park Homestead Style

The past couple days have been so gorgeous here!  On St. Patrick's Day, I spent quite a bit of time playing outside.  At first, I was planning on doing some serious digging to ready my garden beds that will be taking up the bulk of the yard, but then I realized that the things that would be going in there wouldn't be planted until after the last frost, probably in mid- to late-May, so if I dug them up now, I'd be doing a lot of pointless weeding for the next couple months, so I decided to let that project go for now. 

Looking around my yard for something more productive to do, I noticed that where the bags of compost and other landscaping supplies (i.e. sticks) had been plopped when we moved, there was actually a small garden bed set up.  There was nothing growing in it and it had a cute little rock border.  I started to drool.  I marched right over and started playing with the soil.  Yup, as I suspected, it was workable.  I started digging through it in earnest, then poured one of the bags of compost on it and worked that into the existing soil.  Voila!  I had a completed, small and therefore protectable from later freezes if needed, garden bed that wasn't even on my original plans.

At this point, I did something naughty.  I realized that a number of my seed packets said to plant "as soon as the soil is workable."  Well, I was able to work this soil, so I figured I should go ahead and put some seeds in the ground!  I decided to make alternating sections of onions (using sets, not seeds) and carrots in front, then eventually I wanted to make a row of sunflowers behind it, kind of up against the house.  It is much, much too early for sunflowers, so I decided to put some spinach there for now, since the spinach should be about done by the time I could plant my sunflowers there.  I also went ahead and planted some of my snap peas in the buckets that line the top of the stairs outside the front door.

That evening, I watched the news.  As is my habit as a gardener, I paid extra attention to the weather report.  Apparently, next Thursday, around the time these seedlings are due to make their appearance topside, we are supposed to have lows in the low 20s.  Oops.  Even though these plants are supposed to be cold-hearty, I'm afraid that might be a bit much for them.

Friday, it was another gorgeous day, although quite a bit cooler--mid-50s rather than the 70 degree weather of the day before.  Still, plenty nice to spend the day outside!  I was hoping to set up the grids on my wooden garden boxes that used to comprise the majority of my garden at the park we lived at before, but I couldn't find any nails to affix the twine I planned on using.  Why twine?  Because it was lying around with no purpose, so rather than buying something, I'm using what I have on hand.  Anyhoo, project delayed for now.

Thwarted from that task, I checked on the garden bed I planted the day before.  To my dismay, I noticed several of the onions had been pulled out of the ground by some critter.  I'm going to assume birds, since I haven't seen anything else in our yard, but considering the only thing that separate us from some woods are one trailer lot, a fairly narrow roadway, and a chain link fence, really it could be just about any sort of critter.  I had some chicken wire in the garage that I'd acquired from someone on Freecycle last year, knowing it would come in handy in the garden sooner or later, so I took some of that and arched it over the garden.  Perfect fit.  Then, I took a large clear plastic tarp thing that was in the garage (don't even know where that came from!) and laid it over the chicken wire.  I anchored it on both sides with bricks, but it wasn't wide enough to anchor lengthwise.  I figure that should keep critters out, but still let it breathe some, so it doesn't overheat under there on warmer days.  For the super cold weather we are expecting next week, I plan on putting a blanket over the whole thing to insulate it and keep the warmer air in there that would have been created by the sun during the day.  Yay!  Problems solved.  I hope.

Puttering about the yard, looking for something else to accomplish, I decided to tackle the little rocks all over the yard, especially near the driveway.  We have a gravel drive and, as my husband was shoveling snow, he shoveled a lot of little rocks into the yard and even my garden boxes along with it.   I realized that the kids probably weren't realistically going to clean them up for me, as I'd asked them too, so I commandeered one of the kids' plastic buckets from the sandbox and started plopping them in it.  I used the gathered rocks to start filling in a rut next to the driveway caused by me not thinking the driveway is exactly where it should be.  In gathering rocks from the patio area, I noticed that the chives that I forgot in their pot over winter outside was coming up! 
The chives I didn't kill by leaving outside, unprotected

Today was also my scheduled time to start tomatoes and peppers in the house, so after I came in for the night, I did that, using the plastic bag method, since all these seeds are from previous years and two of the varieties of tomatoes and the one variety of green pepper that I have all came from other gardeners who had extras, so this way, I can check for viability before sticking them in the soil and hoping for the best.  The three varieties of tomatoes I started were Ace 55 (a heirloom determinate variety I found at the store last year), Brandywine, and Beefsteak.  Hopefully, I'll end up with a lot of tomatoes, since I want to try making my own ketchup this year.

Every now and then, I look across my modest yard and think that this is going to be fun.  Other times, I look at it and think "How on Earth am I going to turn this whole area into a garden all by myself and do it all this year?"  But really, I'm going to do it the same way I've started doing it--just a little at a time.  As the proverb goes, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  I'm taking those steps as I can!


  1. I took a walk around my garden beds yesterday,it's still to soggy to do anything with....must wait a few more weeks...

  2. We're hoping to put our peas in the ground this weekend! So excited to garden. Glad you are finding ways to get your green on!