Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting the Nursery Ready

The daffodils have barely
come up, but here is some
sunshine for the winter weary!
The weather is warming up, and I actually found dandelions! in the yard last week! The sunny days make me feel like a pregnant woman in her last trimester. Every day until my bees arrive feels like it's both taking forever and whizzing by.

Like any expectant mother, I'm busy preparing the nursery. Specifically, I've started working on getting the garden ready for my 20,000 (give or take a thousand) babies.

I sense that the previous owners of our house weren't really plant people, and we have very little in the way of forage for our anticipated arrivals. Can bees fly and find nectar? Yes, they can, but I still want them to have some snacks close to home.

A few weeks ago, I had enormous plans to put in three new beds in the front yard and two new beds in the back. Since then, though, I've come to my senses and will instead focus on the existing garden beds and put in only one (maybe two) new gardens in the backyard.

Since time (and my back) are of the essence, I'm going to try something different this year in creating a raised bed. I saw a brilliant idea online that used straw bales in order to create a garden border. The interior of the garden border is then filled in (kind of like a lasagna garden) with the layers of:
  1. Cardboard or newspaper to kill the grass
  2. Organic matter (table scraps, lawn clippings, leaves, cut brush, paper, eggshells, etc.)
  3. Compost
  4. Soil
  5. Mulch
As stuff decomposes, the garden will sink, but I'll just keep topping it up.

Additionally, I thought I'd use Joel Karsten's straw bale gardening approach to claim the space the bales are taking up as well. (You can hear Mr. Karsten explain straw bale gardening in the video below. His segment starts around 0:55.)

So the straw bales arrived at my house on Friday. They smelled so wonderful -- I became giddy and started laying them out immediately.

It was beautiful how quickly I could create a garden space. Waaaaaaay better than digging. (Digging is for chumps!) However, what Mr. Karsten failed to mention is that messing about with straw is itchy, scratchy work. Also, the straw wants to go everywhere. It was in my hair, my shirt, my pant legs, even in my undergarments. Also, I quickly discovered something new about me; in the last two years, I've developed a serious allergy to straw. I broke out in a fiery, stinging rash in every conceivable place. And I have 20 bales sitting right there in the backyard. Oh, the irony.

Still all things considered, if this works, I may consider ordering more bales this fall because it was fast and easy. I'll probably have to slather on the Benedryl like sunscreen. Or maybe I'll just take a bottle of it out there and pop a sports cap on it. Ah, diphenhydramine -- the new thirst-quencher!

The bales are soaking, and I'm still working on layer 2 -- filling up the bed with organic matter, but I figure I'll be done in a week or so, and then I can finish up and plant! Just in time for my new babies.

Layer #2 in progress


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