This Saturday I stuck my head out the back door into what has become a unchecked cacophony of free growth. Imagine that, Free Growth in my back yard. It is like the hippies are back . . . and they are growing things . . . I am not sure if I should call my Democrat or Republican representative. I mean there must be a law against free growth!! We just can not have things growing willy-nilly anywhere they decide to put down roots. Why, that is just un-natural!!
What? You say it is natural? Well I do not like it! I do not like it because . . . well . . . it is just messy, that is why! All the mess and silliness aside, it was good to be back in my garden. It always makes me feel like I have control over something (Ha!). The best part of it all is that I got to see one of my favorite actors again, in a fantastic movie, all in preparation for this year’s planting season. (So I tell myself.)
Now mark my words, I have it from a very reliable source that there will be Growth in the Spring. This clip is one of my all time favorite scenes with Peter Sellers in the film Being There. Heck I believe him every time I watch it. It is the one thing that gets me off of my duff each winter. This time especially, he has given me real inspiration with his refreshing and optimistic statements. So much inspiration that I attacked my back yard madness with brute force and began beating back the madness.
The back half of my yard has always been covered with grass. For the first few years of living here I diligently watered, fertilized, weeded and mowed my little portion suburbia. It was lush, it was green and it soon became the place where the dogs went first thing in the morning. After learning that lawn fertilizer might cause cancer in dog paws and watching my water bill skyrocket every summer I took a hands off approach to lawn maintenance. In the ensuing years the pretty little Kentucky Bluegrass blades gave way to the hearty survivor species . . . Crabgrass. In truth, after a good rain and a trim, it looked pretty back there. Nice enough to sit by an open fire, enjoy a bottle of Malbec with some pan-fried brussel sprouts garnished with proscuitto and figs and pan deglazed with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
So out it came, but not without a fight. I used a cool tool called a sod cutter to cut the grass right off of the soil. With the help of some handy men we removed all of the grass in a 50′ x 25′ section of the yard and set the cuttings aside to compost. Composting old lawn is not easy. It requires time and plastic. I am not optimistic but in for a penny . . .
After the easy job of cutting and removing the sod I tucked into soil preparation with a vengeance and a roto-tiller. As you can see by the accompanying video I was a little unprepared for just how hard the clay soil is here where I live. Now, I did wait a month after the last rain so the soil would not be soggy reasoning that it would be soft enough but not sticky. I guess I underestimated the drainage potential of my crabgrass stricken acreage. None-the-less I persevered, learned how to properly operate the roto-tiller and was able to sufficiently chew up the remaining square feet needed to place my new planting beds.
Ten yards of Clodbuster soil, 24 – 2″ x 10″ x 8′ boards and a box of galvanized 16 penny nails later my new planting beds were taking shape. With the addition of six 8′ x 8′ beds I have increased my planting are by 75%. I am not sure if I am crazy, excited or a little bit of both but I am looking forward to planting rows and rows of onions, carrots and celery. Mire poix vegetables for those of you in the know. As well as garlic, strawberries (not in the same planter), and four different types of potatoes.
There will be growth in the spring I can promise you that . . . and a little more work but I am so looking forward to the fruits of my labor. Tomatoes are my favorite of all vegetables (technically a fruit but go with me here) with at least one bed will be dedicated to those magnificent Romas, and a sprinkling of heirlooms mixed in just for fun.
Now is a fantastic time to get out in your yard or on to your porch and get your garden started. Even if all you have is a 3′ x 3′ spot just outside your door that gets great sunlight I encourage you to start a tomato plant or two. Pair that with another pot sprouting basil and you will have some amazing eats in just a few months. Go ahead I say, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Eat Well and Smile Often,
p.s. Ah basil, how I just love basil! and tomatoes, how I just love tomatoes! and mozzarella, how I just love mozzarella!