This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

preparing Mom and Dad's garden

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Yesterday I went up to my parents house and enjoyed a day in the dirt. I had ordered a truckload of compost to be delivered. I was expecting a morning delivery, but as my luck had it, it was a 5:30 pm delivery. So I had time to do a lot of raking and prep work, but had to scramble to get the dirt spread and turned before dark.

My parent's garden plot is about 15 by 50 feet, by my guess. It is against the woods with a westerly exposure, so it gets lots of midday and afternoon sun. As the trees to the east grow, my parents have been gradually inching the garden out into the yard to get more sun.

The plot has a few things growing in it now. Perennial rhubarb, and herbs oregano and sage. Also three nice rows of garlic.

I had meant to order enough compost for a 2-3 inch layer, but looks like I was off by a factor of 2. It was pretty intimidating after the truck left to be standing there by an enormous pile - just me and my shovel and the setting sun. I surprised myself and did get it spread. Then I limed (10 lbs) and added a little organic fertilizer (Garden Tone, 5 lbs). And I was able to turn about half of the plot before Skippy insisted it was time to go home.

I ended up with 4-6 inches of compost. This is almost too much, but from what I've read, it should be OK. I will try to go back and double dig the whole plot down to 12 inches. (My Dad may get a friend in with a big rototiller before I get back to it, but I just hate to think what that does to all the worms he has.)

The compost is dark and even and looks great. No mixed in trash, no sticks or rocks. Just very nice and good smelling stuff. I hope it will produce a bumper crop!

Note added: Here's the link for the compost that I added: Agresource Compost. Looks like its already pH adjusted - so I didn't need to add lime. I'm also noticing that the weeds prior to prep seem to be "sweet" soil weeds: dandelions and chickweed. Well, at least tomatoes like the soil sweet, as do peppers and zucchini. The carrots and beets may not appreciate it. We'll see.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So great! We have some compost they delivery here in the Berkshires called "Black gold" and it's just the best. Do you always add lime?

April 17, 2010 2:20 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I've been adding a lot of lime (20 lb per 600 sq ft, 66 sq yd, spring and fall) to my plot since its been very acidic pH 5.5. I didn't get a soil test of my parent's garden, so I just guessed it needs lime and added 10 lbs per about 750 sq ft. I don't know if compost is usually adjusted for pH of if it tends to be acidic or not.

April 17, 2010 2:44 PM

Blogger Sheila said...

It looks beautiful! What a good daughter you are! (I vote for the double digging.)

April 17, 2010 2:54 PM

Blogger aliceb said...


April 20, 2010 12:28 AM

Blogger Karen Anne said...

"derived from food and gelatin-producing processes" Oh, too bad, not vegetarian. It is hard work finding a fertilizer/compost that doesn't have animal products in it. Good thing I have a compost pile.

April 20, 2010 9:36 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Karen Anne,

Very true. I didn't know this was a material used in compost making. And I didn't realize non-vegetable products were compostable.

I looked into composting with gelatin processing wastes. Kraft Foods' Woburn MA facility delivers thousands of tons of gelatin byproduct, referred to by Kraft's predecessor as a "liquid bone slurry gelatin" to farms for addition to compost piles. It can be added in with horse bedding and beef cattle manure. The material is derived from the hides of animals, which are delivered from federally approved beef and pork processing plants, then washed, conditioned and cooked to separate the collagen and oils from the hides. The byproducts are then de-watered, collected and shipped for composting.

Nothing like your own home-grown compost!

April 21, 2010 3:19 PM


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