Today was bliss!! It really was. And it's not because I did anything overly exciting or extravagant, nor did anything overly exciting or extravagant happen to me. Instead I spent the day doing things that made me extremely happy.
My day started off with a visit from my parents. My Mom's car has been broken for a couple of months now, so I've hardly seen her in that time which is unusual for us. So they came by for coffee and tea and chocolate cake. Thankfully I had made a simple chocolate cake the other night and had just enough left for each of us to have a sliver topped with a dusting of icing sugar. The sun was shining, the conversation was great and the cake was delicious. After they left I got started on a gardening project I had been meaning to do since last year: building a square foot garden bed. Before I get into details, I will give you a bit of a tour of my backyard so you can see just how much space I'm working with.
|Here we are back to almost the beginning photo. |
As you can see, my yard is a fairly good size for a townhouse,
but quite small for gardening. The wall that the birdhouse is on will be
the home of some Super Sugar Snap Peas very soon
Yesterday I threw a permit on my van (I've taken the insurance off of my van and am again attempting to go car-lite, which I will blog about very soon) and ran some errands to pick up everything I needed. I already had 4 4-foot length cedar boards from last year so all I needed to buy was the components to make prime square foot gardening soil. I'm told from the square foot gardening book, that the best soil for this type of gardening is a mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. Since I'm a lazy compost turner (translation: I don't turn it) it takes a bit longer for the stuff to break down into soil, so unfortunately I couldn't use any of it for my new raised garden bed. Luckily my grocery store had a sale on for 4 20L bags of organic compost for $10.00. As I was shopping my local Home Depot for vermiculite and peat moss, I came across this stuff:
As you can read from the packaging, it is made from Coconut Coir and is a green alternative to peat moss. I though I'd give it a try because I like doing environmentally responsible things, and because the package was much lighter and much smaller than a 3 cu. foot bag of peat. What! Those bags are awkward!
After gathering everything that I needed, I put together my raised garden bed. I love working with wood, and this was probably the easiest thing to put together. I just pre-drilled 3 holes into the end of each board, lined it all up so everything would go together evenly, and drilled in the deck screws (very important to use deck screws). It took me all of 10 minutes.
After it was all together and beautiful I had to find the perfect place in the yard for it. The spot in the picture is where I settled on. I needed enough room around each side for tending to the plants in the bed and also for mowing with my manual mower. I also wanted to leave enough room on the right side of it in case I ever wanted to put in a smaller raised bed next to it, or if I want to expand the bed which I have already dug up (where the stones are lined).
After the bed was put together, I opened up the package of BeatsPeat. The directions seemed simple enough: "Combine BeatsPeat with 39 litres of water or until saturated. Watch it expand like magic! Mix into your soil for improved growing results". Easy, right? Umm, no. After searching unsucessfully for something to hold 39L of water in, I ended up filling the bags the compost came in with enough water to cover 2 squares of BeatsPeat (it comes in 4 squares), so I filled two bags. When I put them into the water, I half expected (okay way more than half) them to expand like magic, just like the trusty directions said. I pictured it fluffing up to the equivalent of a 3 cu. ft. bag of regular peat moss and then I would gracefully spread it into my bed. Nothing happened. So after 5 minutes of watching and waiting, I went inside to avoid that whole 'a watched pot never boils' thing. After 10 minutes I went back outside and still there was no change. I touched them and poked at them and they felt the same. So, the impatient me that I am, I ripped off a corner of one of the squares and broke it up with my hands and dropped it into the bed. Seeing that I wasn't getting anywhere fast with this stuff, I decided that is what I was going to have to do. I started breaking pieces off of each square, breaking the pieces apart and spreading them into the bed. Here is a picture to give you an idea of the size of the squares right out of the package:
It took me 1 hour to break them apart. My fingers were not happy campers after that. Once I had them all broken down, I mixed them together with the compost and the vermiculite and this was the result:
Beautiful, beautiful soil. I couldn't stop running my hands through it. It is the lightest, fluffiest, softest soil I have ever laid my hands on. As you can see though, I didn't end up buying enough of everything because only half of the garden bed is filled. In a few weeks I will make another trip to Home Depot and fill my lovely bed up. As for the BeatsPeat, if you are looking for an environmentally responsible peat that doesn't infringe on our fragile peat bogs then I wholeheartedly recommend this product. While I can't comment on it's ability to house any of my food just yet, I can say that it feels incredible. If you're not wanting much hassle with your gardening endeavors and just want to get the dirt in so you can start planting, by all means go for the bag-o'-peat. Your fingers, and your patience, will thank you.
Some other plans I have for my yard include the following:
|This section of lattice will house my Purple Peacock Pole Beans, a |
bean that is purple in color but turns green when cooked.
How fun is that?!
|This I received for my 30th birthday from my sister. |
It will hold small bunches of herbs that I don't use often
and won't need too much of.
|This plant stand I also received for my birthday and it |
currently holds my Rosemary. You can't see in the picture,
but the stand holds 3 pots.
In the other two pots will be Basil and another herb.
Things are coming together and I'm very happy. After I was done for the day with my square foot garden, I couldn't stop looking outside at it everytime I was in the kitchen. I can visualize the food that will grow there, and I can visualize myself tending to my little garden. While I was mixing the soil it was so peaceful outside. The birds were chirping but everything else was silent. It was slightly overcast out but the clouds weren't thick, and ever so often the sun would peek through and light up the yard. I had my hands in this living soil that was going to help produce food for my family. I found myself feeling more peaceful and content than I ever recall feeling. I was in awe of God and His provisions for us, how He thoughtfully pieced everything together to work perfectly. From soil comes food. Something so simple, and yet so incredibly complex and beautiful. Today was a very good day.
This post was shared on Homestead Barn Hop #6
This post was shared on Homestead Barn Hop #6