Friday, April 08, 2011

Lets Get Digging

Why I do the things I do...

My wife and I are foodies. After realized how much more flavorful food is when it is fresh and home grown, i have been gardening ever sense. I eat every day, so gardening seems like a beneficial hobby.I your average neighborhood computer guy. I have no experience farming, gardening, or keeping my house plants alive. Living in the Wisconsin (USDA Zone 5 area) presents some challenges for gardening. The soil is clay, winters are harsh, summer growing time is short, and lots of rain storms.

I searched the web looking for a blog, website, or podcast that would give some tips on what to do (or what to avoid). Everything I found was "It is warm and sunny and nice draining soil here, this is how you garden." Where I live ground freezes 18in deep, 80% of the yard is shaded by trees, and the soil is compacted clay.

I started to experiment by trying different gardening techniques. Most of them failed, but a few worked. I hope this blog helps you be informed (not afraid) of how to start a backyard garden in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

March: Planning, Pruning, Patience

March is just about over. Will we ever see warm weather again?

As much as Grams warned me, I fell victim to the 4 days for warm weather and ambitiously set out my rain barrels. The next day... 29F high temperature. Good thing the sun warmed my barrels enough for me to drain them before they froze. I have decided to revert to my winter mindset, which is planning what my tasks are when spring returns.

So what are the plans? I will be adding 2 more garden beds near the side door of the house. It is the sunnier south side of the property and it is conveniently closer to my kitchen. I have considered putting in the extra effort by doing some hugelkulture, but I'll save that for another post. What will I plan in theses new garden beds? Mainly herbs, because that are great for cooking. I will also do a few tomato, peppers, lettuce, and beans. In the old garden beds I'll be growing more exciting plants: Popcorn, Hoops, Pumpkins, Wheat, and Okra. Hopefully burying the fall leaves in these old gardens have repaired my clay soil.

I have found something to do outside. With the snow gone and spring trying to impersonate winter, I have set forth with pruning saw and shears in hand. Pruning during the winter is the best as the plant is dormant and nasty plant attaching bugs are not out yet. With the snow gone and spring trying to impersonate winter, I have set forth with pruning saw and shears in hand. Am i a good pruner... no. I don't know exactly what I am doing. Most bushes are very forgiving and i started with them. I have read that you can cut out 1/3 of a bush safely with our killing it. We'll see if they survive come spring. The trees need some timing too, but they are too close to power lines for me to brave doing it my self.

For now I am just going to be patient, refill the bird feeder, and check the forecast for warmer weather.