A little dirt

While I’d love to be able to say that spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin…the best I can do right now is say that the snow finally melted ;). And, if we’re lucky and the sun is out, Boo and I can manage to emerge from our back door and get some yard work done. Because, you know. Summer will come, someday. I’d like to have some seeds in the ground for when it actually does arrive!

Sitting on the porch swing waiting for my dirt to arrive!

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This year, I’ve made the choice to cut back on a few extra spring activities – I will not be assisting with managing the community garden, and I’ll be working less weekends at the flower nursery. I decided to do this because I really wanted to focus on getting our edible garden dug, laid out, and amended. If you recall, last year we started breaking sod for the ultimate garden plan. Winter came up so quickly that we only got a little over halfway before the ground froze.

All winter, I re-evaluated the success of my first full gardening year. I had decent harvests in some areas, mediocre in others, and downright terrible in the rest. I knew that with so much new garden, the soil would be lacking the texture and nutrients that it needed. Milwaukee soil is notoriously heavy and depleted – growing a carrot in newly broken garden is pretty much impossible.

So, I decided that the best plan would be to bite the bullet and pay to have some good soil hauled in. I shopped around, had a hard time finding a place that would deliver, and finally was able to track down 4 yards of topsoil/compost blend for a reasonable price. I wanted to get it on the garden before I started planting, and I wanted to start planting, so we had to hurry up! I scheduled the delivery for Saturday.

Friday night, Jason went out to till under the winter cover crops, only to find out that the throttle on my little monster wouldn’t engage. Bummer. He took it in right away the next morning to a local repair shop, and they think that the gear box is worn out. Even though the engine is still in great condition, replacing the gear box would cost more money than the tiller is worth. I guess that’s the risk when you buy used. We ended up renting a newer model for a couple of hours so we could get the dirt worked up. Jason had some indoor projects to take care of and so I put on my rubber boots and tore it up.

Happiness is a freshly tilled garden #spring #littlehomeinthebigcity

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Dirt warrior.

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I finished just before the topsoil was scheduled to arrive. While on the phone with the delivery company, we got our second tough piece of news for the day: they weren’t comfortable driving across the lawn because of the risk of getting stuck. They would have to dump all of the soil in the driveway and then it would be up to Jason and I to haul it in wheelbarrow loads back to the garden. Well, it’s a good thing we’re both young and healthy….

When I started hauling the first, I realized that it would make more sense to actually section off the shape of the gardens, including the center feature for my strawberry patch. That way, I wouldn’t be putting down my precious topsoil on areas that would be pathways.

Progress on the ultimate garden plan. Middle section will be y strawberry patch! #littlehomeinthebigcity

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Jason had mapped out the dimensions of the gardens last fall, based off of the design I had in mind. Using his blueprints, I scrounged up whatever stones I could find around our property and framed in the center bed. Then, I started filling in the other sections with topsoil. Long term, we’ll edge them with pavers bricks or field stone. We don’t have much in the way of spare rocks in our area, other than the little ones that get dug up when we break sod, so we’ll have to keep our eyes open for discarded stone piles when we’re driving.

You guuuuys. My dream garden is really happening!

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Jason came out and helped me after I finished the first big triangle and the center garden. Things went much, much faster after that – he can fill the wheelbarrow with twice as much dirt as I can! I also moved the cabbage frame, for the time being. I was having problems with it being against the neighbor’s fence because the weeds would grow up in between her fence and the frame, and I could never get at them. Obviously, once we build a real fence around the whole garden, I won’t need the frame at all.

It’s still very “half-finished”, but I’m already in love with it. It’s so amazing to see my dream garden actually coming to life. We still have about a yard and a half of topsoil under the tarp in our driveway, and we’re hoping that it will be enough to fill in the rest of the sections once we get the sod lifted.

Before the sun set, I planted my potatoes. I didn’t add the amendments to the raised bed – the soil in there is actually looking really good this year. I filled the whole thing with potatoes – six pounds total. It’s a mix of red and whites, all of them ready for harvest at different stages. I intend to feed us potatoes all of next winter.

The next day, once the rain stopped, I put on a few layers and ran outside to seed some of my early crops – peas, carrots, beets, chard, arugula, spinach, and radishes. I’ve hard a hard time with most of these varieties due to our heavy, lean soil, but I’m hoping that this year will be different. I would really enjoy a skillet of sauteed beets or a huge salad with fresh peas and radishes. Now, if only it would warm up in Wisconsin…they’re predicting highs in the mid-forties all of next week. Welcome to May!

P.S. Sorry about my weird Instagram embedding. I’m having a hard time getting my photos to link from my Flickr account, which is how I normally embed them. They keep showing up too small.

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