Hard on the body but Good for the Soul
This weekend I unplugged from all things tech and spent the weekend outdoors tending to my vegetable gardens. I had built some raised garden beds last year plus made an enclosed garden space that were in desperate need of weeding. For two whole days I did nothing but pull weeds and turn over soil. I loved every minute of it but I will be paying for it later. Gardening is hell on the body but great for the soul. It’s my zen time. My time to relax and let my mind unwind.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty in the soil. I look forward to tending to my gardens every year. It’s hard work but I love it. I saved some money by starting my vegetable plants from seed that I harvested from last years plants. I didn’t start growing them in my house because the lighting is really bad. I knew I was either going to get a really late start in getting some seeds planted or I was going to be visiting the local garden center and forking out some money for some plants that were all ready to be placed into the garden.
I was getting antsy and chomping at the bit when low and behold Easter arrived. I received the best Easter present EVER!! It was a Flowerhouse Portable Greenhouse.
The size was perfect for me and just what I needed (6-1/2′ x 4-1/2′ x 2-1/2′ ). I couldn’t wait to get it set up and start planting seeds. Setting it up was so easy and it only took me a few minutes. I started to get my seeds planted right away. It felt so good working with the soil and getting my hands dirty. Spring was here and soon the nicer weather would be upon us and time to get the seedlings planted in the ground.
I had to take a little video to show just how spacious the greenhouse is. I was not yet done sewing my seeds. The greenhouse works really well. I initially thought that because I was a tad behind in getting my seeds planted that I would be late to start planting this year but I was wrong. The greenhouse catapulted the germination of the seeds into tiny seedlings before my eyes and before I knew it, I had nice tall and hearty plants. If I had grown them indoors, they would not have been that far along.
While my babies were safely nestled inside the warmth of the greenhouse, I couldn’t wait to get into the gardens and get them weeded out and ready for planting. Mother Nature had different plans it seems as every time I was able to get outside, it was raining. Each time it rains here in the little valley where I live, I have to wait a few days before i can go walking around the property. It’s so soggy and soppy and I sink into the grass. Then there are the mosquitoes! O-M-Gosh have they been bad this year. Terribly bad! That said, I was finally able to get out and get my gardening started. I braved the swarms of those pesky bloodsucking insects albeit I may have swallowed a few and when all was said and done, I think I have about fifty(50) mosquito bites (yes! I was using repellent).
The first area that I tackled was my large enclosed garden bed. This is the area that I place plants that climb and crawl, such as cucumbers. The mosquitoes were so bad that I rushed doing the weeding so I know I’ll have to do some more another day.
At this point, I only have the cucumbers transplanted. I had tied some twine between the frost fencing and the posts that surround the garden. This will allow the cucumbers to climb and spread along the twine. This method works great in keeping the plants from crawling along the ground.
Next, I moved along to weeding out and turning the soil in my raised garden beds. I have a few that I built last year. Some I built from scratch using odds and ends and re-purposing some wood and others I made from skids.
This garden bed has beets and green onions.
I’ve never tried to grow corn since moving here to my little house in the valley so I thought I’d give it a whirl. There were 15 corn plants but the pesky rabbits ate four(4) of them it seems as I turned my back – pesky critters. Thank heavens hubby was gone out to get some more fencing. I had some left from last year but not quite enough. The bunnies were not interested in my gardens last year but this year they have developed a taste for the leafy green shoots of goodness.
We love different varieties of tomatoes. In the garden bed there are cherry tomatoes. To me, there is nothing like walking out to the garden and picking one or a few and just eating them off of the vine. I also love to have them on my salad or on a veggie tray with dip. We also use the cherry tomatoes for putting on Shish Kabobs.
Sweet Peas and Broccoli are planted in this garden box. I tried growing the broccoli in my large garden plot last year but they didn’t seem to grow that well there. This year, I thought I’d switch locations and give it a shot.
We love beans! I use them in salads, veggie trays, soups and as a side for meals as well plus a lot more. I have Yellow Beans and Pinot Noir (Purple) Beans planted here. The purple beans are nice and tasty. The first time I tried them was last year. I think I might try my hand at pickling some this year. I love that the bean plants are really hearty and have a great yield. They produce a lot right up until the fall.
Now that my greenhouse is becoming sparse with plants transplanted, the back yard gardening is completed for the most part. Now to move to the front of the yard.
This garden area (if you wanted to call it that) was a labor of love for me to complete. There were Hostas that lined the fencing and grass that was 3 feet tall (when we moved in). I had a vision and I turned that vision into a reality. I removed the Hostas and transplanted them into the large flower garden. I dug up the grass and inserted some weed growth deterrent (black mesh). I built the sides of the garden with some discarded wood and laid down some soil. Presto! Another vegetable garden for me to enjoy. 🙂 I have a bakers dozen (13) Beefsteak Tomato plants transplanted into the garden. I previously planted them in the large garden plot but they didn’t like that area too much. I thought this garden bed would suit them much better. There is a lot of sun as opposed to 1/2 day of shade. I can’t wait to see if my idea of switching things up a bit will result in a lot of juicy, delicious, pick right of the vine and eat tomatoes for me.
I also have lettuce and some herbs that are growing but I will leave them in the greenhouse for now. I just might leave them in there and not transplant them at all. This way the bugs and bunnies won’t even think about going near the fleshy, juicy leaves. I have yet to get some peppers in so that is my next step.
Now that I have the vegetable gardens done for the most part, I now had to move onto the flower gardens. I love my flowers and find it relaxing just looking at all the pretty colors. I often sit outside and enjoy a coffee in the morning and find myself lost in the tranquility.
This is my flower garden bed that is in the front yard. It was another labor of love that I made from scratch just as I did the Beefsteak Tomato garden.
All I have to say is thank heavens that weeding these flower boxes that I built last year didn’t take too long to pull out the weeds. I had been at it for two solid days. I had planted some Marigold seeds in them a few weeks ago. They are coming along nicely and I can’t wait for them to flower.
Over the past week the hubby has been bringing home some flowers for me to plant in my flower gardens. All of the flowers in my gardens are perennials. I don’t know where he got the flowers but they had seen better days. They were on their last legs and starving for hydration. I watered them and gave them some TLC and placed them in my greenhouse. Within a week, they had a new lease on life and resembled nothing like their former selves. I had a couple of hanging planters lying around so I transplanted the colorful beauties into them and placed one in my front yard and one in the back yard. So pretty!
You would tend to think that my gardening chores are almost done but they have just begun. I have yet to weed out my very large flower garden. That is going to take at least a day if not two to complete. Once it’s done though it will be well worth the sweat and perhaps a few tears shed along the way.
Gardening takes it toll on me. An hour of gardening can lay me up for a day sometimes so you can imagine what two solid days of gardening can do to my body. Pain is an understatement of what I feel afterwards. I follow some quick and easy steps before I begin and take steps during the day to try and help lessen the pain.
Workout before your Gardening Workout
Stretch Before You Start: I go for a little walk with my dog Tracker to loosen up my leg muscles. I also stretch my arms and my sides out as well.
Bend at the Knees: I always bend at the knees when lifting. It’s less stressful on the back. This way you can avoid any extra injury as well. Also, when carrying things, it helps to hold them as close to the body as possible.
Use the Right Tool for the Job: I can’t stress this enough. It will take longer and be more stressful on the body if you don’t.
Move while Gardening: I do this a lot, especially when weeding. I often change positions and I always kneel down. Do not bend over while working as it will place added stress and fatigue to your back and muscles.
Take breaks: This is something I have a hard time with. Once I start something, I can’t stop until the task is completed. I never want to take a break for fear that if I stop, I won’t be able to move a muscle and begin again. Hubby is always reminding me that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither will the gardens be. To which I often find myself replying “In my world, yes!”. I do end up taking breaks and resting for short periods. It is recommended to take a break at least three(3) times an hour. I can tell you that I never take a break that often because if I did nothing would get done.
Stay Hydrated: Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Working in the heat of the sun will dehydrated your body quickly. I go through about 10 bottles of water when doing a solid days work in the garden.
Once my initial hard work is done in getting my gardens weeded and plants placed into them, I have to keep the plants flourishing. I’ve done some things over the years that I’d like to tell you about.
Gardening tips and tricks that will help keep your garden growing nicely.
Save your water: Don’t pour the water down the drain that you just used to boil you carrots,cobs of corn, potatoes, eggs and pasta etc. Let the water cool and use that water to give your vegetable plants a drink. They will love you for it. Plants love starch. The starch in the water will help to release much needed nutrients that the plants need within the soil. Caution: If you have added salt or other spices to the water while boiling your pasta or vegetables, do not save the water to pour onto your garden plant – it will kill them!
Eggshells: Keep eggshells to till them into the soil. The ground up shells will give the plants much needed calcium to aid in building up the cell walls of the plants. Plus, you can save money on seeding containers. Use the shells to start growing your seedlings. When your plants are ready to be placed into the garden. Before planting, just crack open the bottom of the shell to allow the roots to go through. The eggshell will break down over time and give the plants the calcium they need.
Coffee Grounds: Use your used coffee grounds (an organic material) as a fertilizer. They will help improve the soils drainage, water retention and aeration.
Other Tips that will Save Money
Rain Barrels: Using rain barrels are an excellent way to store water for watering gardens. It will not only save money on the water bill but it will allow you to water when the hose cannot be turned on. For people like me who need water trucked in and use water sparingly, rain barrels are a necessity. For those living in the city who have water bans or can only water on odd or even days, having a rain barrel or two would be a wise choice.
Wood Chips: Cover your soil with wood chips. It will help keep the bugs down while retaining moisture in the soil. Also, the wood chips will compost over time. If you want wood chips without having to do the work, there are tree removal companies that will give them to you for free. You just need to call around and ask.
These are just some of my tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. I am sure I have forgotten to write some down.
Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping a garden healthy and growing strong Perhaps you have some ideas on saving money. Leave a comment as I, along with my readers, would love to hear them.
Christine is the proud mother of three amazing adults in their 20s, and one ‘fur baby’, a dog named Tracker who is never far from Christine’s side. A devoted gardener, during the spring and summer months Christine can normally be found tending to her flower and vegetable gardens. Living in Southern Ontario near Lake Erie, Christine enjoys spending time outdoors, is an avid hiker and fisher, including ice fishing in the winter months.
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