Thursday, June 9, 2011

growing a green thumb...

gardening has become my newest hobby. before recently, i was pretty convinced that i had the opposite of a green thumb. everything i touched seemed to die. i have several plant carcasses as proof.

there is a large spot of land that is directly behind our property. it is part of the community trail. most of the trail area is wild, wooded area but the particular parcel of land directly behind my house was cleared to put in the community water run off from the gutters. it became my ugly pile of weeds that i had the pleasure to look at each day.

i'd finally had enough and asked our HOA if i could take over the land and do some planting. they were more than happy to take that particular area off their hands so it became my project. knowing absolutely nothing and through a process that was mostly trail and error, i began planting. hours and hours of work later (and some money poured into it as well), it is slowly becoming my little patch of farm land. that's right, folks, just call me old mcdonald.

i've started to gather some knowledge from the internet and magazines. eventually i need to buy a huge comprehensive book on fruit and vegetable gardening but, when faced with the purchase, i always choose to buy more plants instead of a book. i know there are better experts out there but i'm going to share a little about what i've learned.
this is a pretty easy place to start. if you have a patch of land, this can be done without building a planter box like i did above. to make the mounds like you see below, you'll first need to till your soil. this can be done by hand (unless you are a super hero, i wouldn't recommend that) or by using a roto-tiller. we happen to own one but they can be rented for pretty cheap from a home improvement store.
once the soil is tilled, put it into a mound in a long row. to this mound of dirt, add top soil and fertilizer (i just buy the bags at a home improvement store). cover the mounds with weed guard. this keeps the weeds away and keeps the soil moist and warm. over the weed guard, we put mulch. this is added insulation and keeps the area looking nice. the finished mounds will look like the picture above.
once you are ready to plant, pull away the mulch and cut holes in your weed guard in spacing as as far apart as your seed packets recommend. i have family in town so i put my little army of workers to work removing the mulch and making holes for the seeds in the soil. i use my hands to move the soil around to make room for the seeds. plant several seeds together in each hole, cover with dirt, replace the mulch and water well.
you can read the directions on your seed packets to find out when the seeds will start to sprout. you'll need to thin out your little sprouts to only keep the strongest once they pop through the soil. we planted corn last night so we'll have to see how it turns out. pumpkins should be going in soon for a fall harvest. in most areas, it's not too late to start some planting but you will have to water well so be prepared for your water bill.

it doesn't take much work and you'll reap a ton of fruit and vegetables. this is my row of cantaloupes. each little yellow flower will be another melon.
these watermelon vines were started about a month ago. they are starting to blossom and i've got my first baby watermelon growing. i have to say, i don't think i could be more proud than if i'd given birth to that little sucker myself!
i know it may seem daunting or out of your comfort zone but i cannot tell you how rewarding this process has been for me. as a parent, how often do we get to see nearly immediate results to some of our labor? it doesn't happen very often. these little vines of success make me so happy. and i'll take that, any day.