Stranger Days #11: Starting The Garden

Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  
A photo of a plot of dirt with much of it leveled and a long mound towards the back against a white fence.
Phase 1: Level and mounds.

It's been a few years since we've lived at a place with a backyard that I could do some gardening (about 5 years).  Last year, when we moved in in June, we had just enough time to grab plants from the stores and have a lot of tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. 

But this year, it's full tilt.  We have about a 10 X 20-foot plot and I aim to use every inch of it and more.  Since we're home a lot more, I spent 2 weeks ago, doing what I call "throwing dirt."  Basically, turning over the soil and moving it about.  I do this in part because as part of the previous year's shut down of the garden, I bury some amount of dried and dying leaves to help replenish the soil. I also want to disrupt any grass that has started to grow in this area as the grass has slowly started to return with a warmed February than usual. 

The garden is covered with cardboard, each box is flattened and has a brick on it.
Phase 2: Covering the garden.
This recent Saturday though, it was time to get to work.  My first step was to even out the soil a bit.  However, I also wanted to do some larger mounds. I found the mounds to be quite useful last year when I did squash and so wanted to extend the mounds for both squash and cucumbers.  So part one entailed leveling and creating mounds.  I had every little to do this with besides a spade shovel and a large bucket to move dirt.  But progress was made. 

I created the mounds and packed them while also leveling the rest of the garden, I also had to put coverage over the rest of the garden.  We still have lots of leftover cardboard boxes from our move last summer, so I decided to use those again since they were helpful in preventing weeds and grass growing.  But this year, I was smart and removed any tape on them now, rather than it slowly wearing off and getting all over the yard.  

A small mound of dirt with a packet of pumpkin seeds held up in front of it.
Phase 3: Planting seeds.
I didn't have much soil to add from last year's order but I had about 2 bags so I made sure to mix that in as well as come coffee grinds that I'd been collecting the last month to add more to the soil to prepare it for the forthcoming season.  At this point, I then had to decide which things to plant and already knew some of what was going in the ground.  The list included swiss chard, string beans, pumpkin (though probably prematurely), bok choi, lima beans, and cucumbers (also might be too early).  

In planting this year, I did not plot out my garden as I had in the past with a friend.  Actually drawing up the plot and figuring what when where and such.  I should have, but I didn't--so we'll see how well my planning goes.  But to keep track of what I planted and where, I decided a new tactic of taking photos of near what I planted.  

Apparently, I picked a good day to get the work done because the last few days have been a rainy and cold mess. Here's hoping that it's not too much rain and that I'll have an update in a few weeks with some shots of the things that are growing.  

What about you?  Are you doing any gardening with these changes? If so, what are you planting and what do you want in your garden?  Are you working on any home projects now that you're more homebound? 

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.

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