playing in the dirt

20 Apr

All of this nice weather we’ve been having in Minneapolis has me thinking about one thing.

Well, two things if you count biking. Three if you count dinners on the deck. But the main thing I’m talking about is my vegetable garden!

This will be my third year gardening in the beautiful raised beds that Brette built. After paying a fortune for super market produce recently, I’m pretty excited about getting back to eating out of my back yard for a fraction of the cost.

I’ve decided to do a weekly garden update on the blog. Coming soon, I plan on having a separate gardening tab so that you can easily follow our progress. There, I’ve put it out there into the blog universe so now I actually have to do it!

Before we can get to the fun of planting, you first need to get your dirt ready.

If this is your first time gardening and are starting from scratch, I would recommend hauling in some quality dirt/compost mix.

Jen and the dirt back in 2008

We had a truckload delivered. We got way more than we needed as you can probably tell. We hauled the extra to the corner of the yard and used it the following year to fill in where we needed it and to fill up the tomato annex Brette built last year.

Having good soil is key for good vegetables. Do not underestimate that.

This year, I am doing two things to my soil

First, I added some good old manure. Now, when I say “add”…all that means is dumping some on the top and working it in with a garden rake.

To my tomato beds, I’m going to add in some of my very own compost. I’ve been composting for two years now and finally have something to show for it. I added some of this good stuff a few weeks ago, just to make sure the compost is good and ready.

I’m not counting on Lily for help based on this…

The only reason she was there was to smell the manure. She refused to help rake.

So recap on the dirt.

If this dirt has been planted before – add some nutrients to it.

If you are starting from scracth – buy some dirt with nutrients in it.

Pretty simple, right?

The next part is to make a plan for your garden.

Might I suggest the following process?

1. Make a list of things you’d like to grow.

2. Go to the Garden Store (I would avoid the Home Depots of the world and go to a place where the people who work there actually garden. My favorite spot in Minneapolis is Mother Earth Gardens).

3. When you’re at the garden store, look at what kinds of things they have to plant and see how it compares to your list.

4. Revise list.

5. Draw out my plan…here’s what my Saturday morning looked like this past weekend:

(It was very sunny – sorry for the crazy bright photo.)

I literally draw the garden beds on a piece of paper and plot everything out.

6. Take your plan back to the garden store and have them take a look and offer suggestions. This was extremely helpful to me in year 1 and 2.

7. Buy your seeds and starter plants. Know what can be planted when. It’s very important to read the seed packages. When they say do not plant until after the last frost – believe it.

8. Start planting when the weather is appropriate.

One question, I’ve been getting is this: Can I start planting now?

Yes, but not everything – only frost tolerant vegetables. The package will usually say, “plant 3-4 weeks before the last frost”.  Living in Minnesota, I wait until May 15th for anything that can’t take the frost.

Okay, this is a great first step.

Up next….my drawings and what I just planted!

I can’t wait until my garden looks like this again:

In the meantime, I’d love to know…

Are you planting a garden? Is this your first one or are you a master gardener?

What type of gardening information would you like to see here – anything I can help with?


3 Responses to “playing in the dirt”

  1. chez pat April 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    4×4 raised garden bed built. it was comical to watch (i suck with tools). I am going to try the square ft garden. Yip!

  2. Ann April 21, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I love this garden blog Jen! I do not have a garden, but our church has been teasing that they will have garden space this spring. I have always wanted a garden, so I am hoping it works out. Thanks for the garden tips…love it!!

  3. TheManInTheYellowHat April 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Just tried adding vegetables to the garden last year, in one corner. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and some beans. Doing the same thing again this summer, in different quantities (more peppers and cucs.) Nice blog. Now I know where to go for gardening advice. : )

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