With never-ending Wisconsin winters being unpredictable as they are, it is been far too long since I have been able to give you a garden update! With May just around the corner, thank goodness the time has come!
Jason and I have been very hard at work expanding and reworking our urban garden. The expansion is allowing us to finally take TackleMayhem Farms from a dream to a reality! We are establishing our first CSA shares for the summer season. This is a very limited run to close friends and family (and we are practically sold-out!), but it will allow us to finally see how many people we can truly feed from our space! We are ridiculously excited! It is also an opportunity for us to receive feedback from our members, which is invaluable in the farm community.
We actually started this part of the journey back in late February by tarping off the section of yard that we are changing to garden space. The warmth from the tarp helps the grass and weed seeds germinate, and then kills them off by lack of sunlight. The area we are transforming measures 27 feet wide by 39 feet long.
2 weeks ago came step 2: tilling up the dead grass. We prefer to be low or no-till in our garden practice, but there just isn’t a feasible alternative when it comes to breaking up the grass. We spent a whole Sunday trading off with our little electric tiller.
It was HARD work, but the picture speaks for itself. We did get through the top layer of grass well with our little tiller, but unfortunately we had a lot of crab grass that was rooted in pretty deep. We put the tarps back on and let them work their magic.
So last week, Jason rented a much larger tiller for a few hours. It turned the soil over much quicker with more power.
You can see how well it broke up the roots. For now, we have left it uncovered to see if more germination will take place. Surprisingly, in the last several days we have seen neither weeds nor grass (fingers crossed!). If either does start to appear, we will re-tarp the area until we are ready to shape it into raised garden beds. That is how far we have gotten with this area.
But – drum roll please – we were finally able to get some seedlings and some direct seeding done today! Yay! I have been very impatiently waiting for the first outdoor planting day! We started today with our two 5 foot by 5 foot raised garden beds. These were the two beds that were already here when we moved in. The last 3 years we have grown tomatoes and beans here, but the tomatoes will be moving to the large garden this year. We planted out our bean starts in the back of each bed along the trellis. We also added more beans so that we are staggering their maturity dates.
Next, we decided that the beds will be host to our herbs this year. We dug large pots into the beds so each individual herb has it’s own home and they don’t intermix. We did 5 in each planter box. We amended the soil in the pots with organic fertilizer, and Jason’s own organic blend of vermiculite, perlite, and coco coir (coconut core); this is what we use for seed starts and micro-greens.
We used paint sticks for markers; cheap and effective!
On the back of each stick we wrote the planting date and the days to germination for the individual herbs. We can add to this as we turn them over throughout the season.
The second completed box.
The two large pots behind my son Becker and closest to the trellis have been used for our herbs in the past. We opted to plant more beans in them and push them right next to the trellis this year. Becker is watering my strawberries. I started 3 years ago with a 30 foot long by 2 foot wide raised bed that runs along our fence. They have been slowly going dormant over the 3 years. Today, I choose to transplant the few that remain into these two large pots. That way I still have a small amount of them, but can utilize the large bed for more vegetables.
And don’t they look happy in their new home!
It was so nice to finally get outside and get filthy. The boys were great little helpers and were caked in dirt by the end of the day: which is how little boys should be! I can’t wait to give you the next update and see this huge undertaking start coming to fruition!
I’d love to hear about your spring planting: do you have a veggie/fruit garden, or are flowers more your thing? Maybe you’re like me and you do it all! Drop me a comment down below or catch me on IG as tacklemayhem_susan. Until next time, have a beautiful and blessed day!