Dirt beneath my fingernails

I love that slightly dirty tinge my hands and fingers tend to take on this time of year. The dirt presses deep into the creases in my fingers and stains the flesh. It sticks firmly beneath my fingernails and no matter how much I scrub with the nail brush and a bar of Lava it refuses to budge.

I have been busy, busy planning for the spring planting season and so excited about it this year I can barely contain my eagerness to get out there and plant!

This year, I’m tripling the size of my veggie garden and since I live in an area with fairly dense, clay soil, breaking new ground and tilling in compost is intensive, hard work. Last weekend I managed to break new ground in about a 20′ X 12′ area…and it took hours. My shoulders and arms were killing me. Those front tine tillers are killer on the whole body and will shake the crap out of you on hard, unbroken soil.

Why so much more garden space? Because I’m a glutton for punishment, of course!

Not really. My goal is to have enough growing in that garden that I can freeze, can, preserve and store enough vegetables to feed my family through the winter as well as have enough to try to make a little extra money at some local farmer’s markets. This year, I’ve gone with almost all heirloom varieties so I can save seeds for next spring. My biggest expense has always been the seeds/plants to start my garden. I get the compost (thank you horses, bunnies and chickens!) for free. In fact, I usually have way more good compost than I can use.

I ordered quite a few of my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds out of Missouri. In addition to all the normal veggies, I also ordered purple pole beans, yellow, orange and purple tomatoes, banana melon, Queensland blue winter squash and a variety of white, yellow and orange summer squashes. I’ve started a couple flats of veggies (which are looking great!) and will get peas, chard and spinach into the ground this weekend if the weather cooperates.

I’ve already planted a whole new garden of wildflowers and am planning at least two more. I still need to pick up one each of cherry, pear and peach trees and two more apple trees. We had zero production from the pear and peach trees last year because, duh, I meant to get second trees of each variety for pollination but, um, kind of never got around to it. Those varieties are not self-pollinating, unfortunately.

My list of “to-dos” seems to be getting longer as my time to get ’em done seems to grow shorter so I work harder. But the harder I work, the more satisfaction I get out of good work done well. 

The #1 thing I need to get done (aside from working the soil and planting the seeds) is to get a chicken-proof fence up around the garden. I shared most of my crop with those thieving little hens last year, I’m not eager to do it again this year!

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