While I made a conscious decision not to till (influenced by the fact that I don’t own a tiller) I really hadn’t thought about just how much energy and effort it would take for me to build slightly raised beds for my veggies by hand. I do feel great about protecting the structure of the soil and preventing the mass earthworm murder caused by machine tilling, but the extreme effort necessitated by HAND prepping the soil was more than I had bargained for. When loosening the soil in the walkways with a hoe or shovel and then using a garden rake to pull the soil up into the rows, I find that I am only able to prep and plant one row at a time, and often only one row per day. The effort it takes me to prep the row, plant the seeds, cover with the right amount of soil then water them, leaves me sweating profusely and shaking with exhaustion. I’m certain my less-than-stellar fitness level has a huge impact on my stamina, but even if I were in better shape I think I’ve chosen the tough way to garden.
My overly ambitious self thought I could get all of my veggies planted last weekend but even with the Monday holiday that didn’t end up a reasonable plan for me. So far I’ve managed to plant onion sets, bunching onions, beets and two types of carrots. One of my favorite tricks (thank you Joy of Gardening) is to add a few radish seeds to the row of carrots and beets. The radishes will sprout first and mark the rows while the slower germinating root veggies come up a little later. According to Dick Raymond, the radishes also help protect the carrots and beets by attracting the pests that might gnaw on them.
A. dug out some stubborn comfrey plants yesterday so now I have a 4′ x 4′ place in front of our small greenhouse to plant pumpkin seeds. I was hoping to get them into the garden today before work but since I’m quite obviously blogging rather than gardening that didn’t happen – hopefully the next four days will be enough time for me to get potatoes, butternut squash, peas, snap peas, cukes and pumpkins into the ground.
On another note, while I’m not planning to count them, I think my black fly bites number in the thousands. Ok, probably more like in the dozens, but they feel like thousands. One of the challenges in preparing my garden has been the obscene number of bugs that want to attack me and keep me inside my house. Dressed in a long sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, and a hat, I still manage to attract biting bugs. Ugh!