Monday, April 19, 2010

Marathon Gardening on Patriot's Day

Thanks to the Boston Marathon and Patriot's Day we were able to spend the whole Monday out in the yard. Gabe loves being outside as there are so many thing for him to explore. We always try to keep one of us within snatch and grab distance, but there was no need today: he was very well behaved. Garden terminology is already creeping into his vocabulary, with "compost" being a favorite, and I can't wait to further corrupt him! ;)

Speaking of compost, Gabe was so helpful that he got in on the action as I cleared out some of last year's dried up basil. He really enjoyed running them over to the compost bin. He also helped Michelle carry rocks for her various projects. I heard him say 'heavy rock' several times as he tried to find one he could lift.

The bulk of today's effort was dedicated to moving tons of dirt and compost. When I say we moved tons of dirt, I literally mean we moved tons of dirt. We hauled about 4 cubic yards of sodden loam and about 3 cubic yards of equally sodden compost. That's 189 cubic feet of dirt. To put that into perspective, your typical compost or topsoil bag at the store contains 2 cubic feet. Imagine moving 94 of those bags over the course of an afternoon.

My muscles already hate me, I'm sure they'll extract their full revenge over the next couple days. A cubic yard of dirt weighs between 1 and 2 tons depending on how wet it is, and from the ache in my bones I believe ours weighed at least 5 tons a yard.

All of that loam and compost is moving into the garden to fill in the old walkways between the raised beds. Additional compost is being spread out over the old raised beds as well. Some remains to be done, but by around 4pm I was worn out, so I moved my attention to getting the peas into the ground.

I planted two hundred peas, mostly beneath the solar cones. As a control I also planted peas out in the open. They're living under supports made of leftover rolls of fencing, visible there on the left. As bush peas they technically could go without support, but those should help them stay upright if it gets windy.

It seems silly to be getting rid of the raised beds after just one year, but the solar pods just didn't fit with the dimensions of the raised beds. But on the plus side, this should give me extra growing space. I'm going to use the boards left over from the bed edges for walkways in the garden to help spread out my weight as I work, and I'm planning on putting the rest to good use as some drop frames, and perhaps some small raised beds outside of the main garden.

The seedlings spent the day outside living under the solar pod greenhouse. At the end of the day the ambient air temp was 59 degrees and it was 72 degrees inside the greenhouse. It would have been higher, but, by tilting the structure with a brick, I vented it during the afternoon to keep the temperature from going above 85. The seedlings were looking very happy when I took them indoors for the night.

The thermometer spent the day inside the pod, propped against the plywood to keep it out of the sun, and there it will spend the night as well. This thermometer records a min/max over a period of 24 hours, which is perfect for collecting gardening data. I'll be curious to see how low the temperature dips tonight.

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