It’s not spring yet. I know that. But I’ve never been labeled a patient woman. Well, once I was by a Spanish interpreter while I on the phone with a young pregnant patient, but that was the ONLY time I can remember being complimented on my patience. Because I’m not. Even my blog posts are FILLED with spelling and editing errors because I’m so excited to finish, that I can’t slow down enough to be perfect. This is how I am, warts and all.
Ergo, this Sunday when the weather hit the mid 50’s in Baltimore, despite being February February, I had to get in the garden. So while my wonderful husband reluctantly took the kids to a poorly timed school ice skating event (which he immediately told me upon return was not enjoyable), I stayed home and got my hands dirty.
In an effort to be more responsible in my gardening and consume/waste less water, I decided to implement core gardening techniques to my beds this year. I learned about care gardening from Migardener.com, a blogger in Michigan who does incredible things with minimal watering (check out his blog and seed store). Here is their explanation for those of you who have not heard of core gardening.
“– CORE GARDENING
Our #1 preferred method of gardening. We use this in combination with raised beds to provide the most amazing growing conditions for our plants. It is a method adapted from the people of the sub-Sahara desert region who use Sahara grass in ditches that they then cover with soil and top with nitrogen rich manure to grow directly in. The soil holds on to water like a sponge for weeks at a time (once charged), the grass breaks down quickly feeding the soil, the nitrogen prevents any nitrogen from being taken from the soil during the breaking down of the grass, and the organic material adds good drainage, porosity, and loamyness. Here is a video of us setting us a core garden bed and one of us explaining what core gardening is.
PROS: Easy to set up, retains water, amends soil quickly, doesn’t mound soil like hugelkulture, breaks down faster than hugelkulture, loosens soil, increases drainage, and allows for microbes and fungi to colonize the straw and interact with plant roots.
CONS: Takes some water to charge the core initially”
I have two garden plots smack in my front yard, the only place the sun hits. I had lined the bottom of one with cardboard before filling it with soil, compost, and rabbit manure last year. The other I used feed sacks because I ran out of cardboard, and it does help with the weeds. That being said, my beds aren’t super deep, but just enough to grow non-root veggies. Impatient people don’t do well growing food they can’t see anyway, so it’s that’s really not an issue. 🙂
I busted out my rake, made a trench down the center of both my gardens like I was laying pipeline, and filled each trench with straw. Wanna know where the straw came from? You’ll never guess. FAKE BABY JESUS! Yep, that’s right, my straw was upcycled from the manger scene on stage last Christmas at church. Round about January every church with a manger scene across America realizes that they now have 5 bales of straw and nothing to do with them! Thankfully, my crazy proceeds me and I got a text from a staff member asking if I could put five bales of straw to use. Heck yeah! First I was gonna use it for hen bedding, but I honestly didn’t need that much. I generally use old leaves, anyway. Then I was going to use it for seeding my back lawn, but decided to go for zoysia plugs instead. Then once I remembered that I was planning to core garden this year, I was thankful once again for the amazing church I belong to. It’s the perfect garden sponge material. Check with your clergy, Homesteaders, there’s free straw up for grabs every Christmas! Jesus doesn’t need it. The pastor doesn’t want it. Speak up!
Anyway, it was just a few minutes and I was done. Granted, due to my shallow garden beds my front lawn now looks like freshly dug graves, but who cares. I’m now ready for seeds!
I stared at the USDA Planting Zone guide over and over again, wishing there was wisdom in straight sewing seeds in Feb for Zone 7. There’s not. It will freeze. My stuff will die. But just in case global warming was on my side, I chucked a few head lettuce and cauliflower seeds down on either side of my grave site for a little produce gamble. I didn’t plan on using those seeds anyway, so if they grew, awesome, if they didn’t, eh, they failed me last summer anyway.
I had a few extra cauliflower seeds, so I made indoor trays and spread them in a few locations to experiment. My house is fairly dark, so I have never had much luck starting things inside. I generally end up with a cat sitting on them, or the kids knocking the trays to the ground during a heated light saber battle. Man I hate those things. Poor seeds hold a better chance of life straight sewn in the ground against the elements than trying to sprout in my cabin of chaos.
So we’ll see if my efforts pay off. The water conservation will, I’ve no doubt of that. The seeds are hit or miss. They mostly kept me busy until the real spring rolls around and I can cut loose. I also planted two raspberry bushes yesterday, and a packet of dollar store poppy seeds. Third times a charm with brambles, right? I keep trying…
Next on the agenda is the Schenaniganlets division of crop seeds, which I imagine will go a bit like the NFL draft in with of planting rights. Girlchild wants melons. Lots of melons. All the melons. Manchild is gunning for tomatoes of all sizes. I am certain there will be literal turf wars once her plants grow into his. I have yet to come up with a barrier solution, but I am open to suggestions! Anyone? I’m not interested in a Paul Harvey rotten tomato fight re-enactment in my front yard. We’re a corner lot, for pete’s sake! 🙂