I like growing things. I like to plunge my hands into the soil and sift it through my fingers. It does, of course, go without saying that I love food–good food. It is this obsession that results in $80 tomatoes.
You know what I mean. By the time you invest in pots, soil, seeds/plants, water, fertilizer and time, your harvest is pretty expensive.
Naturally, I’m talking about those of us who live in places where the soil is reluctant to support anything that is not native to the area. Since I grew up in the Valley of the Sun, I understand what it takes to condition the soil to make it grow vegetables. The picture is of the cherry tomato plant growing outside. It is one plant that we’ve had to tie back and use two cages to keep the branches off the KoolDeck least the thing reach the pool. For scale reference, the window behind it is 10 foot wide.
I also spent plenty of summers in Baltimore (where I was born) marveling at how anything seemed to grow there. Then there is the torture that is a PBS gardening show.
Honestly, how do people live surrounded by so much green!
Whoops! I’m a bit OT (off topic, not something less flattering). In previous years, my husband and I have spent time bringing our clay and cement dirt into a soil that would support something other than weeds. This involves a tiller, a ton or so of sand, vermiculite, manure, compost, and assorted fertilizers. Then it gets grinded up in the tiller, mixed some more by hand, then the beds are surrounded by walls of dirt to keep the precious water inside.
I’m sure a few of you more experienced souls are wondering about planting in pots. I do that for my herbs–which are dragged under the porch. They are sheltered from the 120F temperatures (in April) but they require so much water (2X a day) or they look like a brownie from an Easy Bake Oven after a week.
Back to the
crypts, er, planting beds. Since last year we had a horrible infestation of ants, I decided to try something new. Many a time, I’ve been stuck in the waiting room watching TV3’s garden guy, Dave Owens. I’ve liked what he had to say and marveled at his success through the long, hot summer. So I purchased his books and read them. Finally, I decided to try it his way.
Off my husband and I went to the Home Depot. Usually, we shop at Lowes but today there was a Home Depot closer so in we went. Unlike the pool fixing episode, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted it done. My husband looked at me like I was speaking Venusian, so I figured my talk of doohickeys and thingamajigs confused him. Regardless, he got that wood must touch ground and told me I could only get two kinds–gnarly looking treated with God knows what wood or cedar.
Given what i planned to do with it and how much I planned to spend constructing my boxes, I went with the ugly wood.
My husband was still arguing with me when I told the HD guy to cut the 4×8′ sheet into 16″ planks. I had at this time drawn a diagram of my plans for my husband which seemed to make him happy. Then again, it could be that I told him he could say “I told you so” if I couldn’t produce what was in my mind.
Fat chance of that happening.
So the boards were ripped into three, I bought brackets and ugly posts and checked out at the register. Total for ugly wood and metal=$243. The next day, I cut three of the planks in half then I did the same thing with the posts. (ooooh, power tools) Finally I began assembling. The first one went up in 20 minutes until my cordless drill charged enough for me to use it. Having assembled the box of one, my husband immediately caught on and off we went. The next two were done in 15 minutes total. Then we hammered the posts in place inside the beds (for stability) and used orange plastic netting (left over from when someone drove through our block fence) to hold up the bean plants as they grew. NOTE: the garden guy’s book, Extreme Gardening, has the posts on the outside and using metal fencing for stability.
So the last thing on the list was to buy soil, compost specifically. Calling around, I found prices from $22.50 to 30.00 for a cubic yard, plus a $91 delivery fee regardless of how much you bought. Given how much I spent on the wood, I was loathe to fork over another 200+ for sh!t, even if it is organic.
Then I remembered passing a sign offering compost for $15.00 at Rovey dairy not too far from our house. Surely this merited checking out. So off my husband and i went. They sold it by the cubic yard like above, but their price was $10.00 for all that we were willing to load into our truck. Or they would take their backhoe and dump as much as we could carry into our truck for $30. I asked the typical questions–is it turned, how often, etc (the last thing I needed was flaming plants).
Since, neither of us particularly relished shoveling the stuff twice we opted for them loading and us unloading. Alas, the truck gate is broken so it doesn’t open, but we managed to unload the compost then with a makeshift ramp and a rake that kept falling apart, got all the soil into the planting beds. Total cost=$60 for soil, $12 for gas. (I have a half ton truck, ergo the two trips.)
Next, we planted the heirloom seeds we purchased online from Annie’s. And all that is left is to watch our garden grow:-)