by Lauren at Modern Self-Reliance
As many readers may know, I live in an apartment but rent space in a community garden. This offers me many benefits but also has the draw back of limited space. However this weekend, the extra unsold lots got put up for sale and I was able to buy one!
Exciting news, I could add 200 more square-feet to my garden! I now have 600 sqft of gardening space. Not bad for an apartment dwellers who lives in a 700 sqft apartment.
This new plot has been rototilled at the beginning of the season in May and now we were here at the beginning of July. The lot has had 2 months to sit and grow weeds undisturbed. I spent my Tuesday July Fourth Day preparing this garden to grow for me.
Here was my process:
Step 1: Remove the weeds.
I first removed the weeds that had been growing happily. In doing so, I found a volunteer tomato plant that I decided to keep and see what grew. I also found some sort of squash plant I will let live as well. Yay! Free plants!
Fun facts: For those curious, the two most common "weeds" found in my garden at lambs-quarter and common purslane. Both are in fact edible. Lambs-quarter you can treat like spinach and cook or eat raw accordingly. Purslane is often eaten in salads raw or pickled.
Step 2: Dig out the pathways.
I wanted to include pathways between the beds. The i removed from between the beds was added on top to give the beds a nice fluffy layer of dirt on top. This also allowed me to get a feel for the soil, it does not have too much clay and there were many earthworms I tried not to kill with my rake.
I think it is very important not to compact the soil you plan to grow in, so not stepping in the beds is very important. My pathways also define the edges well, and look great.
Step 3: Add Posts and Fencing
While the garden as a whole as an outer fence, the little baby bunnies fit right through! So cute, yet so destructive. I hate to say it, but really with a community garden you just want to make your garden the least tempting, hoping the bunny goes for an easier lot. (You don't have to out run the bear, only your slowest friend? Yeah, I know it's mean....) I added some plastic green poultry fencing to attempt to keep the bunnies at bay.
Step 4: Plant and Transplant
Besides the 2 volunteer plants I left in place, I also found 2 tomatoes in my main garden that were growing where I didn't want them. I transplanted these tomatoes into the expanded plot. I bought 2 oregano plants, since I LOVE oregano and those got space in the expanded lot. I then planted more seeds for the things we especially love. Peas, beans, melons, mustard greens, beets and watermelon. Hoping for a great second harvest of beans and peas later this fall.
Step 5: Mulch
One thing I noticed while digging up the soil was how dry it was. While this kept the weeds down, that won't work for my garden plants. To combat this and to prevent the weeds from re-growing. I added mulch on top. I am starting to love mulch for weed suppression and for keeping the soil moist. It prevents evaporation as the rain drains through to the soil and stays there. I have more to add but was running out of energy that day. More next time I visit.
Step 6: Shower
After all this work, I was tired, sun-burnt and covered in dirt! A good shower seemed well deserved.
I loved spending my day off working the soil. It was so rewarding to see my work in the physical world. I was also relieved to find that my back didn't hurt after all that digging and planting. This gives me a good indication that this is what I want to do with my days. My body felt much better after a day of gardening than it does after a day of sitting at my desk.
Thanks for reading!
What more gardening tips?