I was brought up with the above saying. However, I have heard that nowadays it is considered politically-incorrect (not sure why). Whatever the case is, I am surely becoming dull and tired and dirty with the amount of work that I am doing and still have to do in my front and back yard. I am just focusing on the backyard now, treating the front-yard as my step-child (since I can't grow any vegetables there). Margaret Atwood's saying, "In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt," is becoming true in my case :-). Those of us who follow this blog regularly might remember that I lost my mother last summer. So, since July 2012, our yard was lying there, all neglected as I didn't have the enthusiasm or energy to do anything. But, now that the spring is here, you can imagine how much work I have to do -- cleaning, mowing, digging, mulching, preparing beds, preparing soil, pruning, weeding, designing, planning, building and the list with all sorts of -ing continues. I have to get everything ready for the guests to arrive; they have already started arriving. On March 29, the first three guests arrived -- Monarda Jacob Cline plant, a Lobelia Great Blue and a Lobelia Cardinal Flower plant. Then, on April 2, arrived 25 crowns of Asparagus!! There are more to come with more seeds, flowering plants, 12 sweet potatoes and 25 strawberry plants. Many more are already drinking and thriving in the pantry, but the place is becoming a bit crowded. Guests are here, but the hostess is not ready yet!! So, I delved in solving the problem. I started with the big 10' x 10' raised bed that we created.
As you can see, we have created our raised bed using these cement/concrete hollow block. Those holes in the blocks will be covered with soil and each hole will hold different plants like thyme, strawberry, merrigold, any plants that do not spread out sideways. This is what I mean: as you can see in the picture, a plant is growing in one of the holes:
We decided to use these cement/concrete block because they are natural materials; they will not leach out harmful chemicals (which happens whenever raised beds are made of treated lumber) in the soil and they will also last long -- really, really long; I might pass away but concrete/cement blocks will still survive. Buying untreated lumbers like pine or cedar, which will last couple of years in the snow and sun of NJ, to make a raised bed of this size is really cost-prohibitive. So, trenches were dug to put in those blocks. Then, the scud inside the bed was dug out. Almost double-digging was done to achieve loose soil. On top of it went lots of leaf mulches; then coffee grind and some organic garden soil; then some wood ash; lastly, the whole area was covered with straw to protect the top layer of the soil. I will have a narrow path in the middle of the bed to access all sides. There are two such beds in the garden. This is one of them. The other-bed is still incomplete. Leaf mulches will provide nutrients, humic and fulvic acid and easy drainage of water; coffee grind is supposed to make the soil a bit acidic and also provides other nutrients. Wood ash makes the soil a bit alkaline and also supplies other nutrients to the soil. So, I am hoping that the bed is full of essential nutrients and also neutral as most vegetables prefer little acidic to neutral soil. The bed is looking so comfortable that if I were a plant, I was going to demand to put me up in one of the bed :-). As I was doing all these, I noticed that the first daffodil has bloomed (for future record, the first daffodil bloomed on April 6 of 2013).