Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Better Gardening through Facebook

There is something about the springtime that makes me want to take care of little, growing things. Since we're not in the market for babies, cats, puppies, guinea pigs etc. right now, plants are the latest victims of my affections. (This is going somewhere, I promise.) Unfortunately, our entire yard appears to be falling victim to fungus, spider mites and maybe even some aphids. Because our soil is so very clay-ish, drainage is a problem and my winter plantings have felt it. Root rot is not good for peas, apparently.

So, I want to grow stuff we can eat, but all of the existing beds are full of disease-ridden flowers planted in heavy clay. Luckily, I have amazing powers of perception and was able to notice the vast stretches of grass that will need watering while we're on water rationing this summer. Hmmmm...

My solution is to build raised beds. They're a little easier to tame than the hard-packed clay, and I can put them in the sun that they are going to need. With a teensy bit of distance from some of the other diseased foliage, I figure my seedlings will have a fighting chance of getting started and healthy before we have to deal with disease too much.

I'm handy with tools, but not that handy. So, there I was, messing around on Facebook one night, looking at an ad for "Kiwi collars." They're really just sturdy lumber hooked together with galvanized hinges, but I loved the notion that they require no sawing, drilling, nailing, etc. So, I talked it over with the landlady (who says it's okay to put them on the lawn as long as we return it to grass when we leave) and with Andy and placed my order. Happily, they ship from a distributor in South SF, so I got to take a nice little drive to pick 'em up and didn't have to pay shipping fees. Oh, and I got them today after placing my order today. For the record, the Mainfreight people up there are super nice.

This is what my driveway looked like at about 3pm today:

My initial plan was to lay hardware cloth under the frames to keep out varmints like gophers, but I gave up on that when it started raining. And then got very hot and sunny. And then sprinkled again. But had I been clever, that's what I'd have done. I'll save the stuff for something else-maybe a cover for strawberries.

The collars are individually flat-packed for shipment to the US, which was a little off-putting at first. Then, I realized that I'd need to lay something under the frames to kill the grass anyway, and the boxes turned out to be a perfect fit!

Assembly required no effort, and the cardboard made it easy to slide things around until I'd found an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. Note how thoughtfully I left plenty of space for the gardeners to push their mower between the boxes when they come every other week.

Pretty, right? The boxes are 40"x48"x7. They are each filled with 6 cubic feet of "garden soil" and 1 cubic foot of compost, all from the neighborhood hardware store. (Yes, I bought compost-I didn't have enough of my own ready yet, having used a bunch last weekend.) We should get some nice food out of this! Maybe by the weekend we'll be able to plant some of the seedlings I started inside:

So, I found my perfect garden boxes on Facebook. I am also a fan of Square Foot Gardening, which is the general guideline I'll be using. It's a method that makes a lot of sense, and lends itself well to boxes like this. Look for more posts as our food gets growing!

And, if you're like me and need something small and fuzzy to dote on during the spring, I recommend San Jose's peregrine falcons!


Anonymous said...

This will be so much fun, and I can only imagine how much Elise will like eating things from the garden! Word to the wise: don't send your child out to hoe the beets. :-)


Anonymous said...

Hurray -- we'll have to find our way through square foot gardening together -- I'm not making raised beds, as we have good black dirt, but I have plenty of compost from the pile out back, and I'm going to run string on pegs, rather than the whole recycled-venetian blind slats that SFG recommends. So I'm planning *modified* square foot gardening, I guess (does that make it square decimeter gardening?)

I had to buy organic aphid spray last week, as my roses were positively crawling with them, and I will NOT give up all my roses! --- but I intend to use it only when there's a problem, and not as some sort of crutch!

I have a hedgehog in my garden, and the neighborhood cats seem to give her (because I named her Mrs. Tiggywinkle, natch) a wide berth (all our felines seem to be well-cared for, and I haven't found one spraying *yet*) I also found about $35 worth of metal tomato trellises thrown in a corner the other day. YAY!

So...hopefully we'll all be eating fresh veggies soon!