Brown soil, brown thumbs..

Today I worked on my backyard garden. It’s mostly containers, though a few things will be transplanted into a raised bed when they’re larger. Hopefully I will have built one by then as it’s a lot of labor for me. I have two flat pieces of wood that aren’t being used and could maybe be side pieces, as well as some 1″ x 2″ x 36″ wood scraps I am hoping to convert into a trellis of some sort, to go over the container area. My “direct sun” patch can be a little too much sun, I learned last season when everything died from heat. Leaves sizzled and turned crispy and brown where they touched brick edging. All of my squash blossoms fell off and never became squash. (Apparently, they have a heat threshold at which point that happens, around 80 degrees I believe.)

The prep work I have done for the garden this past week hasn’t been worth photographing, just dull and back breaking. All the pots with dead and dying plants in them needed to be evaluated. Recycle the soil and the container? Or figure out why the plant is dead and try to save it. It was a messy job, but I finally sorted my work bench and prioritized the plants in a triage sort of way. I am highly doubtful the blueberry twigs will recover. I also ripped up 10 ft tall radish plants. (I was curious about what happens when you don’t harvest them. They flower, then pod, then seed.) And I pulled up weeds, noting what they were first so I could cross check any information they would give me about the soil health. A few extremely stubby carrots made it obvious that anything below 8″ deep was such crap that a carrot wouldn’t venture forth. The rest of the soil was fairly well mixed, drained well but slowly, and the home Low Budget Soil pH Test revealed that my soil was neither acidic nor basic. Well, maybe slightly acidic, but only enough that I knew to stop adding coffee grounds to my mulch.

I tried microwaving some of the soil to get rid of disease or living weed roots, but that soil was primarily for seedlings as I can’t realistically microwave the whole yard (yet). Not to mention, I found quite a few worms and didn’t want to kill them off by accident. The majority of the soil was sifted and poured into my largest pot. I added water, covered it with a black trash bag and left it in the sun to cook and compost. If you’re trying to do this for your whole property, and I attempted last year but I think I failed, you turn all the soil, leave anything that can mulch, add water, cover tightly with plastic sheeting and let the sun cook it for 4-6 weeks. I do not have the patience to wait more than a week for anything, sorry. I think that advice is a lot better for people in zones under 6, where you actually have a few months with nothing growing anyhow. In zones 7 through 9, you can grow year round. Of course.. I didn’t realize that until last month when I decided to make attempt #2 at this whole gardening thing. Oh yeah, did I mention I haven’t had a garden ever? Except for last year. Brown thumb like you wouldn’t believe and I have the wild idea I that want to be a homesteader.

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