Saturday, March 22, 2014

Garden Exhaustion

If I'm being real, I'll state right up front that this post is pretty much just me whining. 

But as I lack other, probably less self-indulgent venues to get this out there and move on, I'm sharing anyway. 

I am currently knee deep (sometimes literally) in a garden building project. It's exciting and productive. I spent a long time planning it and it's nice to have it underway and know it will be a (hopefully) great source of food for our family and enjoyment for me and the kids. I've mentioned before that I have a section of our yard that I fenced off from deer two years ago for our vegetable garden. It's about 20 feet by 30 feet, so not a tiny space. Unfortunately it is also on a slope, like the rest of our lot. When I built the garden two years ago, I didn't have money to build raised beds and truck in a bunch of new topsoil, so I did the best I could in the ground, painstakingly cutting out the sod from the garden beds and sheet mulching the rest to kill the grass over the course of the season. I intended to have more garden beds than I did, but first trimester pregnancy got the best of me and I decided to skip cutting sod and making 5 rather large beds that were part of the original plan. 

It wasn't perfect, but I did grow a fair amount that year, especially given I spent a lot of that time bogged down with pregnancy-related low-energy levels. However, by the end of the season I knew that my garden was really hampered by that slope. The wood chips I had hauled in for the path areas over the sheet mulched cardboard were all sliding downhill and into my lower garden beds. Likewise, my soil dried out very quickly due to a decent amount of sand in the soil and the slope causing everything to drain downhill, despite my slow, deep watering. I knew that if I wanted to get serious about gardening and move towards my goal of growing much of the produce for my family, I needed to save and plan to build terraced beds. 

So over the last two years I have saved and this season is the implementation. I decided to use cinder blocks and concrete brick as my material because it lasted longer and was stronger than wood, even though it's so thick that I lose some gardening space. It was also WAY less expensive than a rot-resistant wood. It took a couple of weeks with help from my mom and getting outside with the kids when weather and timing was decent to get the cinder blocks and bricks in place. Then, a few weeks ago, I had 10 cubic yards of veggie blend soil delivered to my driveway. A major part of making this project affordable is doing all the labor myself, so I have been hauling all that soil myself. It is not a fun task, though I can certainly think of worse. 

Unfortunately, I put a ton of planning into how I'd use the garden once it was built and things were growing, but not so much into getting around in there with big, heavy wheelbarrow loads of dirt when I was building it. Honestly, I don't know that I would change it because it would sacrifice eventual gardening space, but it does mean that half the garden beds are being filled by the bucketful because the wheelbarrow can't fit into the lower pathway. 

It's a very slow process. 

These two beds? Filled mostly by bucket. Satisfying, but oh-so-tiring.

It feels like I'm out there every free moment I have when it's not raining and I can step away from kid and household chores. And this is where the whining comes in because some days, like today, I just would rather sit on my butt in the house and relax as best I can with a three and a half year old who won't stop talking. 

I'm excited for this project to be completed because I think it will be really great, but man does it seem never-ending! I actually have two of the three (BIG) beds done, but then I remember that I still have to install my wooden pathways, cloches on some of the beds, and pound in the steel rebar supports. Oh, and install soaker hoses and trellises in the appropriate places. When I think of all that the end of this project seems so far away and I start to stress about all the things that need to happen in the garden now that I can't do until it's built. And that last frost date is looming mid-April. 

To be fair, while I am whining about something that is ultimately cool and my own idea, a lot of my present whiny-ness is due to the fact that I'm just exhausted. Not I-haven't-been-getting-enough-sleep exhausted, but just completely and totally out of energy because I'm "on" with the kids without respite all this week and I'm ready for a break. Gamer Husband is out of town for work all week long and it's been just me with the kids, the older of which talks and demands responses constantly - difficult for a quiet introvert like me. I'm really feeling the need for a little break (and as usual in situations like think I have the utmost respect for single moms, military spouses, and anyone else who raises their kid(s) alone. You are a machine!) and it's showing in my lack of enthusiasm about this project. 

The top bed is in process now and my current reason for whining. Boohoo, I know.

All whining aside however, I did get my butt out there and hauled more dirt today with the kidlet and even ended up having a decent time of it. Bed #3 is on it's way and I looked in my garden planner and found that I'm not really as behind as I feared. I do have to get moving on it, but if I can use the next several days of nice weather to my advantage, hopefully I'll be ready. 

In any case, once this thing is up and running, it will be awesome! 

In the meantime, I really have to get better at starting seeds. Next up: a new seed starter light (aka shop light with a plant & aquarium bulb) and more space for them once I up-pot. 

The fun never stops!  


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