The weather has been absolutely crazy warm this year and I’m so excited to get my garden going. In past years, everything has been planted in May – usually on Mother’s Day. The last average frost date for my area (Eastern Iowa – zone 5) is around May 15. I have never started my garden this early before and I hope it means good things will happen – maybe I’ll actually get some sweet peas this year, perhaps? Since the weather has been so agreeable, we started the garden this last weekend.
First order of business was to prepare the site. We actually started this process last year. My old garden site was a poor choice – too shady and full of black walnut tree roots. Last fall we chose a new area and started by working the dirt. On Sunday, my husband disked the area and put up posts. I usually fence the garden to keep out critters.
I am super lucky to live in Eastern Iowa where I have full access to wonderful, rich black dirt. I have yet to amend my soil, but I am on the lookout for some manure this year to add at the end of the season. It can’t hurt, right?
My 5 super garden helpers did a fine job disking my dirt:
We are also lucky to have a lot of farming friends we can borrow equipment from. A good friend loaned us this old disk to pull behind my husband’s pride and joy – the Kubota tractor we bought last year. He says it’s my tractor, but I’m not so sure…
Last year, we made a lot of raised hill areas to plant everything in. It made weeding an easier job and my garden was cleaner than ever. My commercial farmer father-in-law is not convinced it’s the way to go, though. He thinks it may expose too much area and dry out faster. I’m not sure. It didn’t happen last year, as far as I know. My FIL has a huge farm and knows quite a lot about growing corn and soybeans, but he doesn’t grow veggies. So, we’ll see! My garden is a lot closer to the well this year so if we do end up with a dry summer, I will water it, for sure.
My two littlest garden helpers were convinced they needed to help me plant. The older one did a pretty good job. The baby was more hindrance than help (smashing my piles and wasting seeds) and I finally had to remove her to the tractor.
They sure were cute, even if they did just stress me out! We planted sweet peas, red onions, a bit of kale. And I transplated 7 green onions I found growing in my old garden – how fun that they over-wintered! I’m curious to see what becomes of them.
What I realized this weekend is that this garden is nothing like any garden I have ever had before. For one thing, it’s at least 5 times bigger than any previous gardening attempts. Maybe 10 times bigger. I really need to plan to see what the heck I’m doing. So last night I starting drawing a draft garden plan. This is it – and I’m not done. It’s missing quite a lot of things I intend to plant.
I have two big worries – I am never going to be able to keep up with this garden! It’s roughly 75 x 45 feet. ! The potential for weeds to take over is HUGE. And, I’m scared that the warm winter didn’t kill off the bugs so I am going to be in for a huge fight. Time will tell, but I’m in love with the idea of not buying a single veggie item this summer and being able to put up quite a lot of food (as I have in the past) to help sustain us over the winter.
This week, I need to keep planning – need to read up on companion planting to make sure I’m doing it right – I’m sure my plan will change substantially. I also need to start a few seeds indoors. Finally, I need to get out to my garden and keep making dirt piles…
How about you? Have you started gardening yet?