Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Garden Expands

Friday I decided to tackle the newest part of the veg garden. As you may recall from past photos, one end of the garden has been under black plastic for about a year, an attempt to kill off more lawn and convert it into garden space. Yesterday was the unveiling. Beneath the plastic was nice barren soil, several ant hills, and one garter snake which immediately took off.

Once the plastic was rolled back, I covered the space with newsprint - no mindless digging and tilling here - I was going with the "pile it up" method. First, we had to put down layers of newspaper. However, try to find a newspaper these days that isn't printed in color! Our local rag is about six pages long (three sheets) - only one is useable. This was getting me nowhere.
Luckily I had a couple rolls of newsprint to put down, but it wasn't enough layers. So, off to the dump I went (uh...transfer station, that is). Lots of newspapers in the bins, but all were colored. What is with the newspapers these days?!? Afterall, people read 'em and toss 'em, so why waste the money on colored ink? If they went just black and white, not only could gardeners use them, but they could also be burned in woodstoves for kindling!!! Just something to think about.
So, being left sans newspapers, I went with the next best thing: cardboard. I had to make two trips to the dump to get enough (barely) to cover the garden. Then I started adding the manure.

My wonderful egg people brought me a load of manure this last week that they estimate was upwards of 30 years old!!! It was black and crumbly - wonderful wonderful stuff. But not nearly enough. I put down 2.5 beds of last fall's horse manure, then 2.5 beds of this lovely black stuff, and had to finish off the 6th bed with a mixture of the dregs of the good stuff, a couple scoops from the compost (which didn't really compost last year - not hot enough), potting soil and peat moss.
Meanwhile, while I was digging into the good manure, look who I turned up:

This is a little red-bellied snake - a delightful little snake who was quite startled when I turned it up in the manure. I'm just grateful I didn't kill it with a stab of the shovel!

Of course, I had to have a photo shoot. Look at these lovely scales!

Had a terrible time getting a shot of the belly - it wouldn't sit still and flip over! Can't imagine why!

I finally turned it loose in the rock pile at the edge of the garden.

Here are all the I need to put mulch around the edges. Later that evening I planted squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers in the beds. 100% maure - should do well!

The butterflies were impressed. When I went out that evening, two tiger swallow tails were puddling on the beds, but I was only able to photograph this little white butterfly. I have no idea what it is.
I also got the pole beans I'm off to get poles for them!

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