06 April 2008

Gardening, or Community Service In My Own Yard

For years, I've wanted to try my hand at herb and vegetable gardening. I've had a few false starts but I am confident that I will follow through this year, in part because my neighbors are also starting gardens. My neighbor LJ is the type who will keep me honest because she asks me every day how my plants are doing. In the past I have started seeds in a fit of productiveness and then gave up when it was time to transplant them. This time I have been keeping up with my plants because I know LJ will be checking up on me!

Even though I have room to plant in the back yard, the area that ABM has given me needed some preparation. So I did a bit of lasagna gardening (aka layered composting) in that area, which involved layering newspaper, dried leaves, grass clippings, and compost. Hopefully it will be ready in the fall for me to plant broccoli and spinach.

The lasagna gardening isn't the only composting I'm doing. I also started a tiny compost pile behind my raised beds. I found a lot of worms in my pile today which I think is a good sign. LJ is a great help with the pile because she actually cooks with fresh produce and gives me her scraps. When you open my compost bucket, it smells like onions and coffee grounds. The bag of scraps she brings me every night smells like dinner!

For a more immediate crop, I am planning a container garden. My four crops will be tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and basil. I bought the seeds in a pack of hybrids that were designed for containers, so they should do well. I started the tomatoes in an egg carton about a month ago and they look great. Today I started my cucumbers in toilet paper rolls. Yes, I am using whatever is handy, from yogurt cups to pie pans and more. It is either ghetto or green, depending on how you look at it.

Today I spent a good bit of time out in the yard, not only tending to my plants but also picking up trash. I'm sure the neighbors were glad to see a grownup from this house outside doing something. Everyone around us started working in their yards a few weeks' ago. I went outside long enough to tend my beds but left the rest of the yard alone because that is usually ABM's domain. However, as part of my goal to make sure that this period of unemployment is not wasted, I have decided to make more of an effort with the general yard work. I don't want us to be the house with the trashy yard and overgrown grass that everyone talks about. Call it my service to the community -- I'm cleaning my yard to save them from the sin of gossiping :-).
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