We are nearly ready to plan out seedlings outside. Well, we’re ready, but mother nature has other plans, so we’re patiently waiting. We should be able to plant them out next week, if the 10 day forecast is looking good. If not, we’ll have to wait until the week after. Ever since we unleashed the ladybugs into our hydroponic garden, the plants have been flourishing. We now have tomato “seedlings” that are a foot tall, with stems that are 3/8″ in diameter. If we had used the ladybugs back in late February, instead of waiting until early April, our plants would be huge by now. Oh well, lesson learned for next year. We also have a ton of seedlings that don’t fit into the hydroponic garden, and they’re doing well too – nowhere near as big, but they’re healthy little seedlings, and they’ll get big eventually.
Yesterday when my husband went to get another load of compost, he picked up a quarter of a yard of sand ($6). He shoveled out a lot of the dirt from one of our smaller raised beds, and mixed in the quarter yard of sand, plus a quarter of a yard of compost. That’s where our carrots are going to be, and hopefully the nice mixture of sand and compost will help them grow nice big roots. I’m hoping to plant the seeds this weekend, if the weather cooperates.
We have 25 garden beds completed now. They are all between three and four feet wide, and they vary from eight to twenty feet long. It’s been quite a process to dig them all, but this is a one-time investment… in future years, all we’ll have to do is add in some compost, maybe plant a green manure crop in the fall, and we’ll be ready to go each spring. I’m planning to dig three more beds over the next week or so, and then we’ll be finished with the digging. We’ve also decided to have the place where we get our compost bring us a delivery. For the last several weeks, my husband has been making weekly trips to town with our little trailer, hauling home a yard at a time of compost. But the soil here is awful (mostly hard packed clay) and we estimate that we still need at least three more yards of compost. In addition, we started to think that maybe we should get a yard or so of sand and mix a little into each bed to help with drainage. The place where we’ve been buying our compost will deliver up to 9 yards for a $55 fee. Our trailer will only haul a yard at a time, so if we were going to need four more yards, that would mean four trips to town. Each time he goes, it takes nearly two hours for the whole process, and the gas mileage isn’t great when you’re hauling a trailer full of compost. So we decided that paying $55 was a good trade. Now my husband won’t have to take time out of his work day to haul compost anymore, and we’ll get everything we need (sand plus compost) dumped in our yard in one shot. We’re going to have them add in some shredded cedar too, which helps to break up clay soil. We’ll have them come out in the next day or so, and then the shoveling will begin!
One year ago, we were just about to put our old house on the market, and had spent our whole spring getting it ready. It’s amazing for us to look back over the last year, and see how far we’ve come. Our goal was to get a house with a huge yard, and turn it into a mini-farm. At this time last year, we had seen this property online, but hadn’t yet visited it in person. Now the back yard is nearly finished in terms of prep work – all that’s left is to put the plants and seeds in the ground, and dig those last few beds. Our orchard is starting to bloom, and we’re seeing tiny leaves on most of the berry bushes. It’s nice to look back over the last year and think about everything we’ve done to make this a reality. So glad we took this plunge!