I had been debating putting in a garden in our backyard and last weekend I decided to go for it. Our landlord asked that we put the garden outside the fence so when I noticed the remnants of a parking spot (two cement strips with 3' of ground between them) I decided it provided the perfect outline for a flower bed. Initially I started my digging with a hand trowel, since it's the only shovel we own ... I did not get very far that way! The next day I borrowed an actual shovel from props storage at work which was much more effective.
Over the course of a few days I peeled off the top layer of grass and set it aside on a tarp, then continued digging down to about 8"-12". Then I broke up the grass clumps, collected some leaves and a few bags of coffee grounds from Starbucks (they'll give you big bags of grounds for free if you ask! Many have a little basket marked "grounds for your garden" near the counter, you don't even have to buy a cup of coffee to get them.) and started layers. Grass/leaves/coffee, dirt, grass/leaves/coffee, dirt ... I tried to shred the grass up well but I'm sure I'll have to weed out a few errant patches along the way. At this point I have not added any extra fertilizer, the goal is cheap and natural, but I may change my mind once I see how things grow.
Here's the patch!! We got some heavy rain last night so I'm glad I got it done yesterday. The rain really helped soak it back down. I lined the edged with some leftover campfire wood, rocks, and chunks of pots that didn't make it through the winter.
Due to the experimental nature of my project and the questionable soil quality I decided planting seedlings, rather than seeds, is probably the best bet. I plotted out my little cutting garden last night and set to starting some seeds indoors!
Some of these were started a couple weeks ago, some earlier this week, and a bunch today. I'd been setting them in various windows of the house but then read an article online saying that a standard fluorescent light works almost as well as a grow light and provides a lot more for a plant than a window. Curious, I put a few seeds on the kitchen counter and left the light on overnight ... it was like magic!! I purposely chose seeds that sprout quickly but still, to see my bachelor buttons and zinnas break the surface after 2 days was thrilling!
Half of our kitchen counter is now taken over by bachelor buttons, zinnias, snapdragons, calendula, stasis, bells of Ireland, and some veggie starts that will live in pots. (After all the random junk I found in the soil while digging the plot I sure don't want to eat anything that grows there, at least not until we've conditioned it for a few years.) These are mostly cooler weather plants so they'll be ready to go outside in just a few weeks. Next weekend I'll probably plant the remainder of the rannunculus bulbs on the border of the plot before it gets too warm for them to start.
Stay tuned for more gardening adventures!