Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Lakeside Mini-Farm (or "I started as a kid in NYC and now I am planting garlic") Week 1

I am not an amazing and experienced gardener, and I do not really have a farm. What I do have are a few plots of soil that I am learning how to grow vegetables in - some that will just be delicious because they are fresh and from my own garden - and some that are worth learning "how to preserve". I am ready to have dirty hands, blisters and learn what works and what I can do with it.

Welcome to a series of posts about learning how to grow food - while you are still busy being a quilter, going to work, enjoying time with your Mister, playing with your grandson and having fun with friends. There is not too much time left for gardening,... so it is sort of good that the gardening season only lasts half the year.

Based on the post title you may have some expectations - the size of my "mini farm"... which in reality is only about 600 sq.ft (two 16' x 16' plots, three apple trees and a small spot for blueberries. )
May 3, 2015
I am not beside a lake either, but I was born in NYC and I do have some garlic growing now - Garden 2015 Edition.
The first thing that I learned about serious gardening (AKA: farming to a New Yorker) is that you have to plan ahead and prepare your soil.
We spent 5 years thinking about how we could start these gardens. The first summer here I was quite enthusiastic about this project. I headed out to the backyard with a shovel, rake and a hoe. After 8 hours I had cleared a swath 2' wide by 6' long. It was packed solid with rock and gravel. Beaten,  I decided that the next year I would have raised beds and start above the packed gravel.
4 years later we built 2 - 16' x 16' raised beds. The Mister dug out all the grass/weeds and rocks. We learned that the particular spot that I had chosen to start the garden those few years earlier was the only spot packed with rocks and gravel. I had really forgotten that we built our home on a decommissioned rail line and it was just random that I had  chosen the old rail bed as the ideal spot to try and start the vegetable garden.
Last summer we brought in multiple trailer loads of soil from a landscape supplier. We shoveled and raked and weeded and planted and weeded and mulched and watered and weeded. There was a blight - no tomatoes. There were bunnies - hollowed out carrots - and snakes for fun.
We did however enjoy countless amazing and delicious meals of freshly picked beets, carrots, green and yellow beans, cucumber and squash. Maybe there was too much squash, too many gourds and  surprisingly  few zucchini but there were lots of beautiful pumpkins, and fresh dill, fresh basil, fresh sage. But I was ready to do it again and so here we are now: Garden 2015 Edition.
Half of the "West Garden" is turned and weeded (May 3);
this past weekend though, the "East Garden" was finished up too (May 17)
Buds on the Apple trees (May 3)

We need to bring in a few more loads of soil before I can plant these garden babies and my seeds. I kept copious notes last year on when I planted, what I planted, what grew and how much I harvested. I ambitiously purchased about 30+ packs of seeds for this year (not all vegetables though). I am looking for helpful tips to get me through season 2 so all comments will be welcome, thanks.
Learnings so far: Rent a tiller for Garden 2016 edition.

My garden babies want to move outside but tonight is another frost night so they will need to wait a few more days.