Update, Part 2: The Garden
The initial stage of gardening is finally under control. It took a lot of planning and organizing, a lot of digging, and a lot of compost spreading. (Incidentally, my favorite tool for spreading my two pickup-loads of compost was my offset handle snow shovel. I certainly haven't needed it for snow the last few years.) We've gone from a paltry 64 square feet of veggie garden to over 800 this year. And I'm already eyeing another patch for next year. I didn't find room for peanuts or edamame, and not as much room as I might have liked for some current crops.
Unfortunately, my new indoor seed starting techniques have been a complete disaster. I should have hedged my bets and started some seeds using my old methods. I just had no idea the soil blocks would fail so miserably.
I'm not throwing in the towel on the concept, but I'll definitely have to refine it next year. (Actually, I've got some very late tomato seeds in the basement now. Desparation, but what can you do?) Hopefully I can get some kind of coldframe/hoophouse/greenhouse arrangement set up so I can expand my seed starting a bit and I won't have to rely on a shop light in the basement.
It feels strange to have so little rain this spring. In fact, it's been beautiful almost every day. Some days are 70F, some days are 80F, and every day is sunny. With wildfires out west and in the south, tropical storms starting to form already in the east, and tornados and flooding in between, I almost feel guilty. I say "almost" because it feels like we could be staring down the barrel of a drought. The water level in our pond is about where it was last August, and I think we went two weeks without any rain. Our soil shouldn't be cracking in May. (Luckily, we just got an inch or two overnight...)
As far as garden prep, I'm a little proud to say that I did all the soil work with hand tools. (Well, technically, I rototilled last fall, but it didn't amount to much more than turning the grass into hard clay. I don't know that I'll bother with that in the future.) In fact, the only inputs this little patch of land needed were my labor, a combination of well water and collected rainwater, and two pickup loads of compost from a small organic dairy two miles up the road. We'll see if we can coast on those limited input sources until the end of the growing season. I'm not one to buy bagged fertilizers for the garden.
In a future post, I'll see if I can document my entire garden plan, for my own purposes as much as anything. But hey, maybe somebody will either learn something useful from it, or tell me why I'm an idiot. It's a fine line...