It's hot. Too hot for work in the garden I'm sad to say. But, just like days that are too rainy or too cold, it (sometimes) forces a pause; a moment to reflect where I wouldn't otherwise have taken one. If farming has taught me anything, it's how to appreciate shitty weather.
So I thought I'd take a moment today to share a little about my gardening endeavors so far. I have two plots right now in South Minneapolis, which my family members have been gracious enough to let me use this season. One was formerly half garden space, half lawn and the other was all grass. Since I had the idea for TapRoute Urban Gardens late this winter, there wasn't enough time to tarp the grass so I did this instead:
I used a manual sod kicker to cut up the grass. This was a cheaper, greener option than the gas powered machines. I won't lie, it was a lot of work. If I had had the idea sooner, I would have put down tarps or cardboard instead. If you're unfamiliar with this method, it's where you put something that blocks light from the grass, eventually killing it and all its roots. This only works in spring through fall when the grass is not dormant. I tried putting down cardboard last fall on a boulevard garden I was working on but it was already too late in the season so, come spring, the cardboard was starting to break down and the grass underneath was only slightly weaker. So now I have a boulevard garden that looks pretty dumb and that I have to pull grass from all the time. A lot of grass has been coming back in my veggie gardens as well so, learn from me: tarp and tarp well. And if you ever go the route getting rid of grass in a similarly masochistic, labor intensive way as I did, make sure you don't leave any small patches. The roots are strong and determined. They will haunt you later.
After the grass was gone, I used a garden fork to loosen the soil in places where it was really compacted. One of the sites has sandier soil so I didn't find it necessary to do there. I did it this way instead of tilling so as to cause the least disturbance to insect and fungal life in the ground. Then I added about an inch of compost to each of the eight beds (4 at each site) and planted into that. Then we got some straw. I love straw, it's beautiful, keeps the mud off your shoes on rainy days and it smells good.
So that's one way you can turn some nothingness into somethingness. Since I got the beds prepped I've been following a loose planting schedule that I came up with this winter, trying to get the timing right so that I can have a good variety of things available on any given weeks. I've been having some success with inter planting quick stuff on the outside of my rows of nightshades and cucurbits but I think they're getting sick of sharing. More on that later.
P.S. I'd love to hear your questions or comments so don't be a stranger!