Monday, August 2, 2010

Garden Planning

With gardening, I don't know what I'm doing. I read about what to do, but the things I read have very little to do with what happens when I go outside to do something. An example, right now--well, see, I want to essentially make a new bed, except that it's in a spot where there was a bed at another time so it's not exactly lawn. The book I have says that I ought to mark it off with a spade and then just "roll up the sod." Roll up the sod! Really? Does anybody have grass that behaves like that? This little area is full of crabgrass (our whole garden is full of crabgrass; it's a nightmare) and there's some mint that just won't die and: "roll up the sod."

My theory is that I need to dig it up in squares, shake out the dirt, and then throw away the weedy rooted stuff that's living on the top layer, then I'll need to add a lot of topsoil or compost or something. I need to get this area as free of weed roots as I can, a lesson I learned from our vegetable garden. We blithely plowed under the lawn where the vegetable garden is now, using a rototiller, and it's painfully weedy and rooty and it's frustrating.

I also need a plan. Our yard is kind of overwhelming. There are big beds out back. The people who owned this place before us were wonderful gardeners. However, we've neglected these beds terribly for a couple of years and now it's all wildness and weeds and perennials grown to heaven. I have an itch to reclaim those spaces, though. I want an herb garden, one that would make a healer from the 1500s happy, one with things like vervain and feverfew and chamomile*. I want a little wildflower cutting garden. I want to put in some fruit, maybe some blueberries or strawberries. I want a little asparagus bed, and maybe a garlic bed. I have these fantasies. Sometimes I even dream about roses, climbing roses on trellises and a little bay tree to mark the side of the yard, where there are currently some shrubs that I have not yet identified.

But man, I get out there and I don't even know where to start. I'll yank out many handfuls of weeds and it doesn't make a dent. Yesterday, I got out a shovel and just started digging. I made a little trench and threw away the sod on top. Then I didn't know what to do next.

I need a plan. I might even need a task list. I feel less overwhelmed when I break the beds down into sections in my head and think "I'll finish this section first, the move on to the next." But what does "finish" mean? I probably need to amend the heck out of our soil. I want to shrink our GIANT composting bins (from the previous owners) down to something more reasonable, so that'll be one of my first projects now that I finally have wire cutters.

I want a lovely garden, and I even want to spend a lot of time outside grubbing around in the dirt, but I also need to find a way to stay in the moment and work on one thing at a time and not to look around and flail and wonder what needs doing next.

I think I also need one of those little kneeling mats for weeding. Yeah.

*You can blame a recent visit to the Cloisters for this.