After my uninspired effort in vegetable gardening last year, I decided to increase my enthusiasm. It is possible slogging through the middle of winter was influencing me; but this year we are going to try a real garden utilizing my parent’s yard. They have a section of their suburban front yard that has been used and reused for many different purposes. When I was young it was a mud pit to play in, and when I was a little older it became a vegetable garden.
Although I no longer live with my parents, that plot has not been used for anything recently. I live close enough that I can drive over to tend the garden about once a week without too much burden. My parents can take care of watering between my visits, and they get to reap the rewards during summer while I do the planning and heavy lifting.
In the past, the biggest problem I had with cultivating that patch of soil was prepping in the spring. There is always a huge layer of weeds to remove and since it has not been tilled in several years, grass has taken root. Two months ago my husband, mother and I laid out some black plastic sheets to block out sunlight so weeds can’t grow as the weather becomes warmer. Here in Seattle it is not practical to start putting seedlings out until mid-April or May. At the beginning of spring there is always the chance of a frost or even a random snow flurry (as happened on the first day of spring this year!).
While lay the down black plastic sheeting, I removed some old wood that I had used in the past for a garden. Unfortunately, we discovered lots of evidence of underground rodents. They had some neat little tunnels running around under the wood boards. This makes me wonder if I should also set up some mesh under the raised beds to protect our plants from the burrowing critters.
My current plan is to construct some sturdy raised beds to make gardening easier in future seasons. The plot is on the south side of the house and gets excellent sun for the majority of the day. I have looked at many instructions for raised beds on the internet. Some are built fancy and others are very simple. The basic idea is: build a rectangle out of untreated wood and put some dirt in it. Raised beds don’t need to be made with wood but I think wood would serve our purposes in this garden well.
I also have plans to grow some beer hop plants in buckets next to the south side of the house. The hops climb upwards of 25 to 30 feet, so we plan to run string from the roof eves to the ground for them. This part will be an experiment, having never grown them before.
While prepping, my husband found a great big night crawler worm making his way across the ground. We made sure that he was able to crawl back into the soil.