From the Ground Up: Soil Preparation

In this second installment on my garden I will look at the preparation and nourishment of the soil. When I first started my garden weeds were having problems growing now the situation is improving.

The garden, as I inherited it, consisted of small half-dead cedars around the edge and a few weeds. The soil was kind of rocky clay, except where someone had planted the cedars in sand, (I’m not sure, this may be what you’re supposed to do with cedars, but don’t quote me on it). Obviously something had to be done if I wanted to get vegetables to grow.

I started last summer by turning about 50kg of composted sheep manure into the ground. Also, I bought a composter, (you can see it in the photos, it’s the wooden box), from the city and started using it. The manure has a fertilizing value of 5-5-5, plus it contains a bunch of organic matter, something that was sorely lacking in the ground. This worked fairly well, and I had a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, but most of my other plants didn’t really produce, although I think it’s because they didn’t get started until mid July.

The preparation for this year’s garden started last fall. All the dead plants from last year’s garden went into the composter, and another 120kg of sheep’s manure, as well as a bunch of fallen leaves, were turned into the soil. Then it was time for the snow to fall.

Fast forward to last weekend. With the snow melted and the ground thawed it was time to start the garden. I dug 100kg of cattle manure, (for variety), and another 20kg or sheep manure into the soil. Also, I emptied my composter and added everything that had turned to soil to the garden, (not much — I guess I have to turn my compost more). With this addition of manure and compost the soil in my garden is finally starting to look fertile, although it will be some time before it is black & crumbly.

I will continue to add as much organic matter as possible to the soil in both the spring and fall, and hopefully each year the garden will produce a richer harvest. For this year, however, we will have to see how it does, perhaps with some help from liquid fertilizers, (but that’s another article).

Blogging the Garden

Vegetable Garden Overview
This past weekend I spent a lot of time putting in my garden. Where I live I have a very small yard, and before I moved in last July I don’t think that anyone had paid any attention to the yard for quite some time, as such, there are some unique challenges to creating a great garden. I am planning on writing about the garden as it progresses through the season, hopefully it will get me writing regularly.

Last summer, I was able to grow some tomatoes, (too many actually, but they didn’t ripen until I’d picked them and brought them indoors), and some cucumbers. This year I’m not moving in in July, so I was able to start the garden at a more normal time. I have increased the number of vegetables in the garden from 6 to 12, plus set aside a small space for herbs, (currently there are 4 planted, plus some more in pots). We’ll see how this all works in a space that’s approximately 6 feet by 12 feet.

I’ve also planted a lawn beside the vegetable garden and taken over the flower bed in front of the house, (formerly cared for by the landlord – just mow over it when the grass is cut). And, of course, everything is being done for as little money as possible.

So, that’s the introduction! There are some photos on flickr and I will cover more specific subjects in greater detail later on.

Send a Birthday Card to Shane

Yesterday, my mother sent me a link that I want to share with as many people as possible: Shane’s Wish.

Shane Bernier is seven years old, and has had cancer for two years already. This year for his birthday on May 30 he wants as many birthday cards as possible. He’s trying to break a Guiness record.

Every card he receives gives Shane a small escape from his life in the hospital and his cancer, and according to his mother, since he’s been getting the cards Shane’s immune system has become stronger.

To send a card to Shane, simply send it to:
Shane Bernier
PO Box 484
Lancaster, Ontario
K0C 1N0

If you can write it in French he will be able to read it. If not don’t worry, his parents will read it to him.

On YouTube:

Now I have to go get a card & send it.

Update: My card is now sent!