Sunday, March 21, 2010


Today is the first full day of spring! and boy did I take advantage of it. Despite the late season cold that has gotten a grip on me (or maybe because of it) I decided I needed to spend an entire day in the sunshine. I am happy to report that I did just that, and have the dirt under my nails to prove it!
I didn't get a lot done, but somehow one never feels they accomplished everything they wanted to. What I did get done though is:
I cleaned out my compost bin. What a fun job that is! Especially since mine is in a slightly awkward spot at the back of the alley, with the woodpile in front of it. (for those of you new to my ramblings, despite the small size of our yard, we manage to cram a lot in, and do a lot of things that most people would never consider in a backyard that is 15' X 25'! stay tuned for updates on everything I manage to pack in!) Down on my hands and knees with a garden trowel in hand, I scooped out a large pile of gardener's black gold. Mine may not be as pretty as the professional grade, but it sure looks better than the dirt that populates my garden beds! I couldn't believe the amount that I pulled out, the worms and bacteria sure have been working hard over the winter!
After I got the bins of freshly collected compost out of the way, I built a shelf for the alley. We have two nice big windows in our kitchen, they look at a boring picket fence and our neighbors' windows and stuccoed wall, all of 6' away. I am determined to change that. I have purchased several types of seeds that work in shady locations and am sure I will end up with a spare begonia or two after the library plant sale. Hopefully between the bins on a shelf that puts flowers at window sill height, hanging baskets, short plants, tall plants, and everything in between, someone glancing from my window would never guess that it is an alley. And if I can also get some cut flowers to bring inside the house, all the better!
The next task to accomplish was finding homes for all of the lettuce and swiss chard seedlings. I started them several weeks back, and now that they have true leaves and have hung out in the open window sills for a few days to acclimate themselves to the great out doors, they were ready for permanent homes. I filled several window boxes with soil, compost, vermiculite, coir (think peat moss but made from coconut husks) and fertilizer; these are now lined up along the ledge that the wooden fence sits on. 6" x 10' of found space! The spot gets a moderate amount of sunshine, so hopefully it will be enough for good growth without letting the lettuce scorch in the hot sun. The plants that did not fit in those 4 bins are in my back flower bed. I left space behind them to plant some sugar peas, no sense in wasting that perfectly good vertical fence space! With a little twine it becomes an ideal trellis. For half of the lettuce and half of the chard I tried something new. After preparing the soil with a few scoops of compost and fertilizer, I rolled out some paper mulch. It kind of looks like glorified craft paper, only darker in color. The picture on the tube show plants that are twice as large with it than with out, we'll have to wait and see.
I also did a lot of figuring and straightening. I emptied some pots that were getting too beat up and broken, uncovered the last of the pots that I had covered to protect from winter ice, I said hello to the rosebush and the butterfly bush, and sorted out what needs to be planted and fed next.
Over all a very productive day. The sunshine even helped make me feel better despite my cold. Of course now my body aches from scraping compost out of the bin and working with a shovel all day, but that just means that summer is on its way. = )

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