We spent our weekends skiing this winter (right up through the beginning of the month – best season ever); the hobby consumed a lot of our free time and forced us to pause on some projects, but it was a completely worthwhile way to make the most of the winter season (without resenting it). And then, in a single day, the seasons and our priorities changed. Our final snow piles melted just as the buds popped on the tree in our backyard, and when that first sporadic 80-degree afternoon hit, all hell broke loose. Lawn chairs, out! Bikes, out! Dog poop, discarded! Sunroom, cleaned! Branches cleared, brush destroyed, campfire had.
I put the garden high up on my own list of priorities this year so that it wouldn’t be as delayed as other seasons… somehow, it’s just one of those things that I can put off until mid-May before I realize it, and by then I’ve lost a full month of the season, and end up nurturing a garden that never seems to fully catch up before the first frost in September or October. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m ahead on my garden for the season, but I think I’m pacing more appropriately. The Public Market was filled with vendors hocking healthy seedlings (the basil plants I bought have already tripled in size), so around here, we’re busy voting for the veggies we want to nurture (tomatoes, giant beans, asst. squash, peppers, strawberries for sure), and actively preparing the garden bed for this year’s crop.
The garden I built two years ago was a series of fenced-in squares in the back of our property; good for a first year/late-in-season effort, and it made way for the larger round fenced-in bed that I upgraded to last year (the bigger circle devoured all of the squares, and gave us a bit more square footage). Last year’s tomato crop consumed half of that circle, while cucumbers and butternut squash occupied the other half. Those vines plants spread outward like crazy, and I found that they smothered each other, themselves, and other plants we had in the ground. To give everyone more space this year, I doubled the size of the garden bed by extending it to the left, into a part of the backyard that had once been heavily overgrown with brush, and these days only sported mowed weeds and mossy ground cover.
It was easy to put the rototiller into action – our soil is extremely soft and sandy. I marked off the new area using a few scrap boards, and had the whole ground overturned in 20 minutes. This is the same rototiller I’ve used other years, a Black & Decker battery operated 36V product that has earned its keep 10x over.
I kept the garden expansion as easy on myself as possible; the fencing had remained up all winter because it was surrounding a few raspberry and blueberry bushes that I didn’t want wildlife to snack on, so I left most of it in place and reconfigured a few posts to help the existing fence form the shape of the new garden. Let’s skip to a little not-to-scale hand-sketch to demonstrate how the old (blue) fence was opened and shifted. Red lines on the right demonstrate where I added some new fencing to close off the new garden.
Eventually, when I’m confident that the garden is large enough to contain our annual crop and I’m feeling like investing more, I’ll throw some real posts and more decorative fencing in to make it more “permanent” but there will always have to be some element of super-tall metal fence to keep the deer out. As it exists now, it’s great.