24 April 2010

Getting the garden going

Nobody said it would be as easy as pie. If you want or need to do the work yourself, getting a vegetable garden ready for planting in the spring is hard work. Of course, if you don't otherwise work for a living, preparing the garden is the kind of work that is pretty satisfying.

Having a rototiller helps a lot. At my age, digging in the soil with a shovel and sheer muscle power would limit the size of my garden severely. Even with a machine, tilling the local soil — ours is heavy clay — is hard work. But you only have to do it once a year... make that twice. It takes two good passes with to get the soil right, but only the first one each spring is really hard to do. The second one is a piece of cake...

Here's what my gardening shoes look like
after I've tilled up a garden plot or two.

...until a wheel falls off the rototiller. That's what happened yesterday. It's not a wheel, really — it's a thin, sharp metal disk that cuts an edge where you want one. And the disks on each side really do stabilize the machine, the way wheels would. Anyway, Walt found a nut and bolt and we quickly had the tiller repaired.

Three vegetable garden plots are tilled and ready.
Rhubarb has come up, and winter collards are finishing up.

Planting for the year has already started, and winter crops are finishing up. Walt has radishes growing in planter boxes, and he plans to plant more out in the garden this coming week. I planted potatoes (thanks, J & N) a week or more ago. I'm waiting for them to come up. Walt also has tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and eggplants growing in flats, getting ready to be set out.

Those are collard greens on the left, with yellow flowers.
I'm going to gather the seeds soon and pull up the plants.

It took a while for the weather to get nice this year, but it's gorgeous these days. A good week is forecast. I'm hoping for good weather in May, June... and so on until October. We plan to grow a good amount of sweet corn this year, if the weather allows.


  1. My million year old neighbour says it won't rain for another 10-12 days and that we need this time for getting the potager digging finished. She told me anything already planted will be fine because it is quite humid, and assured me that yesterday was the moment for planting potatoes (fortunately, that's what I had been doing). Certainly my peas, mangetout and broad beans are looking good. I've sown lots of other things in cells, most of which has germinated, including sweet corn, to be planted out in due course. Exciting, eh ? :-))

  2. The garden looks great! There is nothing more rewarding that growing vegetables, picking fruit off a tree.

  3. Perhaps you should trade in your gardening shoes for gardening boots. In my previous residence, I was lucky, we had several fruit trees already in place. All I had to do was enjoy the fruit. Especially the mangoes and seedless grapefruit.

  4. Hi Ken,

    Speaking from potato country in eastern Oregon, I'm wondering how your potatoes, which love sandy soil, will do in a heavy clay? Did you do something special to your soil to get it ready? I have to add richness to our soil---how do you lighten it up?

    Lynn from Pendleton


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