Hit You with The Burn: A Garden Entry

“Mom got her peas in this weekend,” says my dad via text.

Middle sister follows suit two days later declaring she got her peas done too. I look at my sad wet garden, brown and hibernating, and continue to ask the goddess of rain to chill out for a weekend so I can do a burn.

Youngest sister lives in a small home with no garden space, lucky me, she has the energy and time to come help with my garden projects. I will share my loot with her, happily. This week, I had a nanny come to watch my youngest two, and off we went with a big agenda.

Burn the Garden – Spread Compost – Till the Soil – Reshape Beds – Plant Peas

The Burn:

What do I burn? Leaves collected from the yard are tossed into the garden in the fall, as well as old straw, paper, boxes (for weed blocking), and plants I was too lazy to pull up at the end of summer. The bottom layer of leaves was wet, so we didn’t get to complete our mission entirely. We were successful in burning 80% of the garden as well as the planter box outside the garden, which went fast because it was all dry straw. Check out the video below.

Burning your garden is helpful for more than one reason. Nutrients are returned to the soil, and it raises the pH levels and making it less acidic. A good burn can also kill bugs that hibernated in the ground over winter, plus it’s a great way to burn seeds that might otherwise become “volunteer plants” throughout, and all the paper products we use for weed blocking that haven’t rotted are easily ignited.20190319_1208391106789140.jpg

I’m just gonna say it. Playing with fire is fun. That said, there are precautions we took to ensure the fire didn’t get out of hand. Having a hose nearby and raking debris away from the wooden fence is essential. If it has been particularly dry, I would also recommend spraying a border around the garden. Fires can spread and jump quickly, never put your back to a fire. Start on one side and work your way around, being sure there is always a path to make a quick exit.

All in all, I say we had a great burn today. No one was hurt, and we cleared most of the garden.

Compost:

20190319_132908747296218.jpgI went to my local Home Depot and bought the only compost they have for sale at this time. LeafGro is organic and natural compost and is less than $5 per bag, but we got 50% off when we agreed to buy broken bags. I didn’t know they did this; next time I’ll ask about it specifically. The contents are dark and moist. We spread a good amount on each of my raised beds with the hops of tilling it into the soil along with the ashes.

Tilling:

Fail. We failed. Or the machine failed. This was disappointing. My husband even tested the tilling machine a few days prior. So, we had to improvise. It was time to break out the hoe and do it by hand.

This is where all the hoe jokes came up, giving us the laughs for a good hour. Hoeing is hard work. It hurts my back. My younger daughter was outside, and I told her as soon as she was old enough she’d be hoeing because I’m getting to old for it. We have to share my hoe because I only have one. Treat my hoe nice; it’s pretty old. Keep that hoe away from the fire.

Reshape Beds and Plant Peas:

Success! We only hoed the beds we wanted to plant in today, which was still hard work, but the soil changed from café con leche to a nice dark Oreo. It was beautiful. The things I get excited for. I planted three varieties of peas and a sugar snap pea. It will be the first crop I harvest, next to the garlic and strawberries which are also early.

Still to Do:

I will need to burn the last two rows, buy at least four more bags of compost, and fix the tiller so I can till the remaining rows. Once these things are done, we have plans to build another external planter box for more squash. Last year the animals left them alone, so we are expanding this area for a better return on winter squash.

Happy gardening! Tis the season to play with dirt.

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