Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter is for Gardening

There are our little garlic plants....back at the beginning of January actually. It is so strange to garden through the "winter". It is wonderful, I can't tell you how really wonderful; but between gardening and the weather in general, my internal clock just assumes that we are having the longest April in history. The other day someone told me the birthdays of two people and I made a comment about the birthday in August coming before the one in March.

A friend is letting us garden on her land, so back in November and December we measured out a 50 by 55ft plot (which incase you can't envision it, is huge), and slowly began our gardening. Really really slowly at first. We went to a farm and shoveled a whole trailer load of horse manure, but when we got it back to the garden it looked like just a tiny little heap.

Nathanael planted around one hundred garlic before we left to visit our families in December (each planted clove will yield one bulb in late summer), and we also had a neighbor till the soil with his tractor. It was a pretty serious job to break up the turf of what was previously just lawn. 
    When we returned in January we began to dedicate a little more time to gardening. For the first couple of Saturdays Nathanael used a big borrowed rototiller to break up the soil. He went over the entire garden twice (something I admire him for because I certainly would not have had the gumption). I wish I had more pictures to show you just how enormous of a job it was to deal with all the silty soil.

(Watch the gotee, it will disappear.)

Meanwhile, I was in the digging trenches, some of which will serve as the drainage (very necessary) and some of which will be the walking rows. The soil I removed from the trenches became the beds, which I then shaped with a hoe to prepare for planting. It did get a little cold on some Saturdays, and I did wear layers and a scarf, but it was never unbearable to have bear hands.
Even though I kept digging and digging, I usually only dug just more than one trench/row each Saturday. Why? Because 55 ft is pretty long. Yes.
 After a few rows I had a hard time keeping them from becoming curvy, so we put up a network of strings on sticks to help me out.

 So things started looking much more organized.

So we began planting other cold weather crops. First we planted snow peas, and now we have also planted spinach, broccolis (2 varieties), lettuces (4 varieties), carrots (4 varieties, 3 colors!), beets, parsley, dill, and coriander.
Here are some of the seeds we chose for this year (we also have some seeds we will be planting from last year, so this is about 3/4 of the plan). We will have 40+ varieties when everything is planted. We were so excited when this package came in from Baker Creek. I have a picture of Nathanael with his face showing the excitement from that night, but I think he'd rather I just stuck to this picture. (Click to look closer at the fun varieties.)

Since the snow peas were starting to peek out of the soil, we figured we should do something to keep out the deer and armadillos(!), but we didn't want to do something that would be too costly or too much of an eyesore. So Nathanael decided to drive posts in at the corners and string fishing line at 8 different heights to keep the deer out by making them run into an "invisible" barrier which will hopefully creep them out a little. 
Do you see it?
(If you look very carefully you can see a few of the lines on the left. And the levee on the right, beyond which is the Mississippi River. Sorry about the glare, though the strange light is the only reason you can see the fishing line. And yes, that's our car.)


Nathanael also put up steaks and twine as a trelis for the snow peas, and eventually we will do the same for the Thai Long Beans (Khew Dok) and Chinese Red Noodle Beans. (He is actually gardening barefoot in this next picture, but I didn't really capture it.)

So, now that the tilling and fencing trellising are mostly complete, Nathanael and I are taking turns digging, hoeing and planting. Right now we have about 40% of the garden dug and hilled, and maybe 35% of it planted (and also marked with neat little wooden stakes so we can remember the name of each variety).

We are so excited about our garden. The opportunity to have a garden has definitely been an answer to prayer; it was the main thing we were unsure of as we moved to another urban area, but God has blessed us with a very generous friend.
We are looking forward to sharing our produce with our friends and neighbors, and cooking with each of the international vegetable (and fruit!) varieties which are new to us. We also hope to be able to have some work days with some of our international friends so they can share the joy of gardening with us, especially once things begin to grow. 

Are any of you putting in seed orders yet, or making plans for gardens or potted terraces?

Are you jealous of our gardening hats?


  1. I am jealous of those hats. They are awesome! I wish I had three of each!

  2. Man! I agree. Awesome hats! And check out that knife! I need to get myself one.

  3. That is so cool! You two are going to have an amazing garden! I bought seeds yesterday and am looking into getting a grow light today.

  4. I love fresh garden food!! ...but hate to garden. So glad that my Mom does it for me!! :)


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