Saturday, January 23, 2010

And We're Off!

I told you it was a big week here at the Wat Ranch, and here's why. Last Sunday we drove down to Wichita Falls, TX (about an hour south) to pick up a truckload of bulk compost. Why all the effort? Well our own compost pile isn't quite ready and isn't nearly enough for our 2000 sq. foot garden plot. In fact, the truckload we did get was only enough to lightly till into a quarter of the plot, and I ended up making the drive again for another load to top dress the quarter.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What I really want to talk about is the fact that we have been making the most out of the 50+degree weather days (it was 75 yesterday!) to prep and mobilize The Wat Vegetable Garden 2K10. The cover grass and clover I planted in the plot last fall is waking up from being dormant and getting nice and green again, fixing all kinds of nutrients into the soil. To take advantage of the cover for as long as possible, we decided to work the garden in quadrants, only tilling and planting in one quad at a time. That way we will minimize erosion when our early spring gully-washers strike, and so we can spread out the trips to Texas for more compost.

Here is our plan for the first quad (looking at it from west to east):

We're doing a traditional 3-foot row, but companion planting in helper plants here and there. It's sort of hard to make things look "here and there" in Excel, but rest assured that the Nasturtium, Marigolds, and Carrots are supposed to be somewhat randomly scattered along the sides of the rows. The cool-weather plants in this plot will be among the first to succumb to the summer heat which will probably show up in May, so we'll be able to make use of the space again by replanting in warm-weather crops. That's the plan, anyway.

Here's what the quad actually looks like (from east to west):

It makes me happy just looking at this. It was hours of manual labor to unload all of the compost and till it in, which I dutifully noted as my workouts for those days. Our planting schedule this year will follow the suggestions for gardening by the lunar calendar as detailed in the 2010 Farmer's Almanac and according to the FA's "Best Days for Gardening" tips. Peas are the first veggies sown in our area, and the best day this week for planting was Wednesday. That meant that I had to hustle to unload the truck, rake up the rows, and plant the seeds before it started to rain. Yes, I was that crazy person sowing seeds as the sun went down, and eventually had to turn on the headlights of the truck to see by. I planted 2 double rows of Burpeeana Early Garden Peas, and a half row of Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas.

One thing I hadn't prepared for was garden pests this early in the season.

It was already a chore to keep them from eating--yes, eating--mouthfuls of fresh compost while we were unloading it. That's why I put up my naive string "visual barrier" around the quad. I woke up Friday morning to find that the herd of mutts had decided to hold a WWF Smackdown event inside the quad. The string was ripped, stakes split, and mounds flattened from body slams. I was pretty livid, but since they were all limping around, obviously sore, I've just resorted to reinstalling the string and screaming like a crazy person everytime one of them gets close to the plot. I think the peas are okay, but we'll see in a few weeks when/if they start germinating if they stayed in the correct rows.


  1. Okay, I am officially tired now. That was a lot of work. I will be looking forward to hearing how your peas do. You should have a bumper crop with all the soil amending.

  2. I am so jealous of all the space you have! Hopefully you'll have a ton of peas....I bet your little one will love them!