Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turning over the vegetable plot

Yesterday I bought a bag of fertilizer from an enterprising young man for five dollars.  Well-rotted, dry organic fertilizer of the avian kind.  This young fellow had been busy cleaning out the chicken coop, and was kind enough to bag up some for me.  Sarah, Jeff and Joshua were with me, and were a little worried about the ride home, but the stuff was so old and dry we only needed the windows down a little bit, and nobody was hanging their head out the window. 

Chicken manure is pretty potent stuff, and a little goes a looooong way.  It has more ammonia in it than sheep or cow manure, so you want to spread it over a large area and mix it in really well.  It also needs to be done well in advance, because you don't want to burn your plants.  My vegetable plot is about 11 by 20 square feet, so the one bag was definitely enough for the whole garden.  If I was more organized I would have done this in the fall, so it would have had the whole winter to mellow out.  However, snow came early and I'm not that on top of things.

After school today, I put on my rubber boots, grabbed a shovel and the bag of fertilizer, and went to work.  I opened up the bag and dragged it around the garden, distributing it as evenly as I could.  Then I raked it around a little more evenly.  Jeff came out to help, and we started turning over the garden.  I am a very lucky gardener, because our vegetable garden is over 25 years old, and the previous two owners were avid gardeners who obviously amended the soil faithfully every year, because this stuff is black gold.  Not a rock in sight, a pleasure to work with!  I'm really spoiled.  I try to be grateful and make sure that I add to the soil each fall and spring as well.  Last fall all the soil from my pots went into the garden.

Jeff and Joshua and I worked really hard after supper as well, and between the three of us we managed to get the whole garden turned over.  It's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow as well, which will help the manure to mellow out and mix into the soil.  Jeff and Josh found a few really fat worms as well.  A robin was busy singing high in the branches of the poplar tree in our neighbor's yard, watching our progress.  I think he was biding his time until we left to pick around for some of those fat worms.  I won't be putting the garden in for a few more weeks, so I'm glad I got the bed turned over and everything mixed in.  My Uncle Rick, who has an amazing garden, says not to plant until after the full moon after Victoria Day weekend.  He swears by this, and he's usually right, so I'll stick by his rule of thumb.  It felt great to be out in the garden, working with my boys.

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