As I have mentioned before, when we bought our soil we got swindled. It is mostly clay, full of small rocks, and it turns into a brick when it gets wet.

The only way we can amend this is to get rid of some of it, and replace it with better soil.

Unfortunately, finances are currently impeding the process. Until we get new soil, we can’t plant our seeds or transfer our seedlings into the beds. We can’t plant our hops rhizomes, so we haven’t even picked them up yet. Since we’ve already spent $200 on soil it really hurts to have to spend even more.

Luckily, the deep parts of our beds won’t need to be altered. And really, plenty of people garden in 6 inch raised beds. That means we don’t have to do a whole lot to get them into shape. We’ll scrape off the top 3 inches or so, till up another 3 or 4 inches, then hopefully it won’t be difficult to mix the bad with the good.

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Our seeds have arrived. We’re still thinking on our soil situation, so we’re on hold for now. We’re lucky enough to live less than 10 miles from the headquarters of Burpee, which I feel makes a big difference in the quality of plant we’ll get. Plants are quick adapters. The seeds that we save from this years harvest will produce plants next year that are even more readily equipped to deal with our specific weather and soil. That trait makes it ideal to save your seeds. However, when the seeds come from plants that were grown just a few miles away, I feel that they’re already going to be pretty damn hardy.

What will we be growing? A lot! Here’s the list:

Tomatoes, 2 types
Sweet bell peppers
Hot peppers
Cilantro/coriander (did you know that cilantro grows from coriander seeds?)
Red salad onions
Little Gem lettuce
Pole beans
Endive, curly
Flat parsley

Will all of that fit into 48 square feet? Yes!
Isn’t this a bit lofty for first-time gardeners? Probably!
Does that matter? Not one bit!

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Babies Having Babies

My pepper plants are less than 2 months old and about the size of a smurf. You know, three apples high. A few days ago I noticed that they’re beginning to flower. From each bud a pepper will form. These plants aren’t supposed to mature until a minimum of 3 months after planting, and they should be significantly larger before they do so. What the hell? How do I stop this from happening? I’m not ready to transplant them to the garden yet! And I’m not really trying to get just 4 peppers from each plant, honestly. What can I do to return them to their vegetative state?

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Gardening, Part 5

This post is more about yardwork aftermath than gardening. Since this entire project is being done in my parents back yard, not our own, we’re making an extra effort to do it well and have it look nice. Not that they spend much time in the back yard, really, it’s my husband and I that spend every waking temperate moment out there. Still, they’ll be selling the house within a few years, and hopefully a fully functional and well-made raised bed vegetable garden will increase the value of the home.

We placed these garden stones between the beds, and needed to fill in the gaps with red stone.

We also had to fill the space between the row of stones at the top and the beds themselves.

Additionally, with all the trudging up and down the hill with wood and tools and heavy buckets of soil, we had managed to undo all the work I did a few weeks back. As it goes with the Yard of Sisyphus, bare spots were abound. How do you get heaps of red rock from the bottom of the hill to the top?

More heavy buckets!

Now that’s a path you shouldn’t break an

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Gardening, Part 4

How do you move 4 cubic yards of soil? Buckets. Incredibly heavy buckets.

It’s not a quick process.

While my dad and I hauled soil, my husband set to work on constructing the trellises. The wood we got ended up being a bit warped but it should do just fine regardless. After trellises, he finished polishing up the cold frames.

This is the stop for the dome lid.

It works!

My husband came up with the fantastic idea of using carpet tack to hold the plastic sheeting on the cold frames in place.

It was certainly a lot easier this way. The original plan called for a strip of wood and some nails. Which is basically what we got, only already assembled.

With the trellis frames complete and the boxes filled with dirt, we laid down the grid material. We’re not sure how we’ll attach them together to form a grid, and we may just toss it and go with nylon rope and eyelet screws instead.

With the leftover dirt we filled some containers. This one, and another just like it, will contain hops. We ordered our rhizomes a couple of months ago, and they arrived at our local brew

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Gardening, Part 3

We got our soil delivered. We got scammed, really, but at least we have something to grow in. The “mushroom soil mix” turned out to be very dense, almost all clay, and lots of small rocks. The rocks will hinder our carrots but probably not much else. If we decide the quality is too poor, we’ll scrape off the top 6 inches and add in some store-bought compost. Hopefully we won’t need to do that, because the soil we paid for was expensive. I don’t want to buy more.

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