Dirt under my nails…

I have it – and I love it!
Starting my garden was delayed a bit because our basement flooded and with the hoard my husband has accumulated downstairs, the cleanup effort turned out to be a major deal. At first I was absolutely livid. The mess down there has kept us from enjoying the finished family room area for years. However, it turned out to be a blessing. John and I were moving things around to get to the puddles of water and discovered another area where water was seeping in, which made it necessary to not just move things aside but go through them. In the process we found that we had to throw away a lot of things. The basement is much cleaner and more organized now and if we ever have to clean up after another flood we’ll be able to get to the source of the leak with a lot less difficulty. We hauled away two truckloads of garbage. This made Momma all kinds of happy. I’m still ridiculously thrilled about it, actually.
The garden turned out to be a bigger operation than I had planned. Originally I was just going to plant four things and see how it goes. Ha! Along the way I kept adding things. Half were started in little pots in the front window, some were seeded directly into the soil. The seedlings were then planted outside. Now we have beautiful, healthy pumpkin plants, zucchini, three varieties of sweet peppers, tomatoes, habaneros and jalapenos all flourishing in rows. The speed with which they all took off amazes me. The seeds started both inside and outside took less than a week to sprout. Hopefully they will continue to thrive. If all goes well this summer, next year I intend to double the size of the garden and maybe even have some fresh blueberries out there. So excited!
I already have plans for some of the hot peppers: fire cider. All of the ingredients are great for immune-boosting, clearing mucus and preventing colds. The recipe can be found here. There’s plenty of room for experimentation so if any of you decide to make your own, I’d love to see what you come up with!
The tomatoes need to be staked (or caged) and I still haven’t quite figured out how to keep the abundant bunny population from nibbling at the plants, but I’m working on it. In an ideal world I’d have elevated plant boxes, but that would take more time and skill to build than I currently have, so I’m doing lots of reading and online research. Since the intent is to keep things organic, I’m looking for pesticide-free ways to keep the plants healthy and deter bugs as well as bunnies. I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks and am absolutely loving this! There is nothing like bringing healthy food from the earth with one’s own hands. Dirt, as it turns out, is a beautiful thing. :o)
The compost heap isn’t happening yet, primarily because I haven’t had the time to tend one. Like the garden, it would require breaking ground. Then there’s the separating of elements that can be composted from those that can’t, turning, watering…lots of work that needs to be done. I’m rapidly running out of time to do it because in less than two weeks Trent and Zoe will be out of school for the summer. They’re teens, but they’re a full-time job. Thankfully, all the plants are already in the ground and the tending will be minimal at this point.
Speaking of which, I’ve found an easier way to weed than the traditional on my knees pulling one weed at a time method. Wait until it rains, then rake. Raking between the rows provides better drainage and the weeds come out easily. For the stubborn ones, turn the rake slightly and pull with the tines at the edges and it scoops them out of the earth quickly, root and all.
I decided to make hills for all of my plants and thus far it’s working out very well. I’m really looking forward to harvest time. Once the last of it is done this fall, I’ll double the garden area, hit it hard with some compost (which I’ll have to buy, but that’s okay) and see how it rests over the winter months. Hopefully the process will be easier next spring. Rake away the weeds, prep the hills and plant.
Baby spinach leaves are almost ready to harvest. I think it’s gonna be a good season.

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