Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Our Twenty-by-Thirty

On this glorious Saturday, with several more days of pleasant weather to come, I finally got down on my hands and knees (really—my jeans are mud-colored now) to work the rough-tilled soil in our community garden plot.

Without a rototiller at hand, I used a small spade and a trowel to break up large chunks of soil and to make little mounds where I would plant seeds. It was hard work, but sometimes that's what gardening is all about. Nevertheless, I'll consider renting or borrowing a tiller next year. For water, I half-filled a plastic storage bin from the hose and hauled it in the Croozer to the garden, where used a smaller container to scoop out some water to pour over each new planting.

As I mentioned earlier, our plot is 20x30 feet, which I realized is pretty big as I was kneeling and digging, and crawling and sowing, and crouching and watering, and standing and stretching... Just look at all we were able to plant, and keep in mind that most of these are vining plants that need a lot of room.

  • 20 spaces for butternut squash (40 seeds sown today)
  • 24 spaces for 3 varieties of pumpkin (48 seeds, 16 of each variety, sown today)
  • 8 spaces for two varieties of cucumber (approximately 20 seedlings—from seeds started indoors a few weeks ago—transplanted today)
  • 26 spaces for sweet corn (26 kernels sown today)
  • 5 little hills for watermelon (14 seeds sown today, 5 of which are for giant watermelon that can grow up to 200 pounds—our special experiment of the season!)

I cannot wait for the seeds to sprout. Until they do, I'm going to worry that they're all duds, or that I'm not watering them enough, or that I didn't prepare the soil well enough. And when they do sprout, I'll worry that they'll dry up in the sun and die or that they'll be eaten by rabbits or deer or roly-polies. And when they get blossoms, I'll worry that they won't get pollinated or that their fruit will be eaten by insects or wildlife before it ripens... Basically, I'll worry until we're harvesting.

I also planted some edible stuff in our yard today. Basil, cilantro, and parsley seeds (because the ones I planted a few weeks ago never sprouted, boo!) as well as cherry tomato seedlings, yellow pear tomato seedlings and New Mexico green chile seedlings. I'm really excited! And yes, I'm really worried about roly-polies. Just gotta roll with the punches, though, right?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Yes! A Plot of Our Own

Today, we became the proud lessees of a 20-by-30-foot patch of land in the new community garden across the street from our neighborhood. I couldn't even create a handful of 10x15 spaces our subdivision without charging more than $50 per person, but less than 100 yards away, 250 spacious community garden plots are now available to us at just $15 a pop, thanks to a partnership between the Fox Valley Park District and the Kane County Forest Preserve.

About a week ago, Len and I noticed several large rectangles of tilled earth in the grassy field (belonging to the forest preserve) that runs along a road bordering the north end of our neighborhood. Each time we drove by, to and from work, we wondered what it was about.

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I noticed small signs posted at the short end of each rectangle. We got home, fed the cat, and immediately hopped on our bikes to see what the signs were for. Labeled sections of newly planted wildflowers, perhaps? Some kind of organized prairie restoration project? Instead, the signs read, "Garden Plots 1-26," "Garden Plots 27-52," and so on.

Thrilled by the prospect of so many garden plots in such a convenient location, you better believe we snatched one up as soon as possible!

I'm so excited to have a large area for our pumpkins, squash and cucumbers—and more—this summer! Len wants to plant our various fruit tree seedlings there (we recently discovered that an apricot seed sprouted after I'd given up on it—a short story for another time), but permanent plantings aren't allowed, obviously, because the park district tills the ground every year.

Anyway, the plots open for planting on May 10, so stay tuned!