Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dig It!

One of two raised garden planters
I built a garden this past week. Tuesday, the lumber was delivered for building raised planting beds and 64 cubic feet of topsoil. We live in a desert. The ground is either rock, or sand or both. Our property is mostly sand which is not particularly good for raising vegetables. I’m glad it’s not rock: that’s too difficult to dig in.

We also have an unusual pet that has run of the back & sides of the property. Tortuga is a 75-pound African Sulcata Tortoise, which is the third largest tortoise species. He’s a tank that lets nothing get in his way. He will walk through it or over it: walking around it is his last resort.

We used to have lovely plantings in the back & side gardens. Tortuga either tromped through or ate every plant in his way. I’ve experimented with ornamental plants trying to find ones he will ignore and leave alone. I’ve had little success.

For a plant to survive in Tortuga’s realm, it needs to be protected until it’s large enough to NOT be walked over or through. This brings me back to the lumber & topsoil being delivered.

Raised gardening beds are a must with Tortuga on the prowl. They need to be tall enough to discourage his climbing into them. The ones I built are approximately 11 inches tall. Each planting bed is 4 feet by 8 feet, which need 32 cubic feet of soil each. This solves my poor sandy soil issue, too! I’ll mix in a layer of topsoil with the sand to ease the transition between the strata of soils.

On Wednesday, I constructed the two planters. While I was leveling one planter, I noticed Tortuga exploring the other. He managed to pull himself up over one 2 x 6 layer and got hung up mid way. He couldn’t go forward. He couldn’t go backwards. He was stuck. Thankfully I was there to lift him off. He is inquisitive but he has a very small brain. How did these marvelous creatures survive for millions of years? I quickly realized I needed to complete both planters to prevent a repeat performance of Tortuga’s balancing act.

Friday, I turned and dug into the sandy soil, mixing it in with new potting soil. That 64 cubic feet of soil was a lot of work! Damn! My back was all out of whack… thank god for Pilates. I begged my instructor to go easy on me Friday afternoon.

Saturday, my husband & I headed over to Lowe’s Garden Center. I’d been asking him, “What do you want to plant in your new garden?” “Vegetables.” “OK!”

Doc filled a shopping cart with plants then into the trunk they went. We planted 7 tomato plants, 8 lettuce plants, 2 peppers, 4 pimento (why pimento???), dill, 4 zucchini, 4 cucumbers, basil, green onions, & Greek oregano. All were planted in two 4 feet by 8 foot planters.

So many plants in such small planters. Cozy. I am praying for a bountiful crop and wondering how all those plants will co-habitat in such tight quarters! Is that a tomato or a red pepper? Bite it & find out!

Thanks for listening,
Jerry L. Hanson

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