October 26, 2010

Fall 2010 Garden #2

Summers in Arizona can be truly miserable. It's a scorching, painful but brief interval in a place where we enjoy gorgeous weather the rest of the year. But taking tiny people out in the middle of the town is probably ill advised if you want to avoid their getting heat exhaustion or a bad sunburn! On summer mornings, I get up as early as reasonably possible to go hiking or walking - usually around 5 - and spend only small amounts of time outdoors the rest of the day.

Consequently, when the weather begins to change during our version of "fall," I find myself loath to come inside at all. I wake up a little later, go on my walk or hike, come home to make the kids breakfast and then go back outside as soon as possible. My favorite thing to do is let the kids play outside while I stick my hands in the dirt and try to grow things.

Thus, I've been creating gardens wherever anyone will let me plant!   The latest garden is at my sister-in-law's  house. Here is what we're doing there...

Her back yard has an existing raised bed - part of which is part of the structural support for the tall wall behind her house. As you can see, her kiddos have been putting it to good use.

But, she wanted to plant something delicious there so we got to work. Because the dirt serves dual purposes of food growing and structural support, we decided to use the front half of the bed for gardening but leave the back undisturbed.

This existing flower bed was definitely more work - even with lasagna gardening because we didn't want it to be any taller than it already is - at 3.5 feet. So, rather than building up, we started digging. And - WOW - what hard work!! Unfortunately, this bed had not only been covered with "ornamental rock" - (GRRRR!! I hate that stuff!!!) - it was comprised of very hard clay soil filled with even more rocks.

Good thing I had my sifter with me. My father-in-law made this for me from some wire and wood. It does a great job of sifting out most big rocks so we can still use the native dirt (with amendment of course).

Even with the sifter, there were tiny rocks left. I'm not worried about them because we layered that garden with great stuff - just like my original garden. See the process here.

After about 6 hours of serious work (longer than it would have been if we hadn't been chasing two toddlers around the yard!), we finally finished the bed and planted seeds. And our lovely new gardener chose to plant lettuce, carrots, broccoli and spinach. We added some bachelor buttons for color and to attract good insects.

Now my sil just has to find time to water 5 minutes a day till the seeds come in and we'll install a drip system. Bet her boys will love eating carrots from their own garden!

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