I enjoy a good pun every now and then, and lettuce is exactly what we planted this week, so I had to roll with it. There is so much to do around our property, I was starting to feel like we wouldn't be ready for Spring, and we would end up pushing off our garden goals even further.
That was until Andy came home one day with these really cool shipping boxes he found while picking up wood for our shed project (it's almost done and we will be sharing it soon!!!!). Already built, the perfect depth for shallow rooted plants (11-16 inches), and just needed some holes drilled in them! This whole project took me about an hour! And here I was thinking I would never get it done...
I was so excited to get our lettuces in the ground, I planted them after dark! I had to do a little prep work to the "Garden" AKA the overgrown backyard where an old trailer used to sit on the other side of our property. I have been cleaning it up (so much trash... still a work in progress), and trying to get rid of the weeds. I finally got our mower in there and mowed everything down to one inch, being careful to stay away from any areas I couldn't see what was under all of the weeds, because our lawn mower needs to remain functioning. There is random wire fencing, soda cans, and dog stuff all over the place. I was successful in clearing out space large enough to put this year's raised beds.
The only work I needed to do to get the beds ready to plant was to drill holes in the bottom. I chose 1/2 inch holes, and drilled them all over the bottom for drainage.
Using the clippings from the freshly mowed space, I filled the bottom of the bed. This will provide organic material that will break down and give nutrients back to the soil, along with drainage for the water in the bottom of the bed, and it will help keep the soil in the container.
Next, I filled a few 5 gallon buckets with "soil" from the middle and bottom of the compost pile. Side note: I just realized why my arms are sore today... Our compost has only been sitting over winter, and has done an amazing job of breaking down, but it's not quite done yet. I wanted to fill the center with this nutritious organic material, so I picked out the big things, and will pay attention for any weeds that start to pop up. If you have better compost options available, I would use it over my half broken down compost. We are working with what we have here, and eventually it will all break down anyway. If you have no compost, you can add kitchen scraps to your raised beds to give them some extra nutrients.
Finally, I topped with a planting mix I bought at Walmart on Sunday. We happened to run to the store, and I wanted to get some soil for whenever I was ready to start gardening. I didn't think it would be 24 hours later. The mix was intended to mix up with your own soil 1:1 ratio, so I mixed it in with our compost mixture, and broke everything up so it was nice and loose soil.
The whole point of this post is to get you to stop overthinking what you are doing in your garden. Try new things. See what works for you and your home. Don't be afraid to experiment.
I recently heard the story of a woman who planted carrot seeds last year, she watered them, she cared for them, and they never germinated. Then, with all of the crazy weather in the south, she found something growing after the snow melted. She pulled it out thinking it was a weed. It was her carrots. From last year. Finally making their appearance.
No matter where you are, how long you have been gardening, or how much experience you have, plant something. Try something you may not have otherwise thought to do. You never know what kind of crazy ideas might actually turn out to work in your favor. The only Rule I follow in the Garden is to ignore all of the rules and figure out what works best for our microclimate.