|Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine|
I wanted the garden to start at my kitchen door but the soil and the slope and the wind are all wrong. It grows a few minutes away instead, stretched across a flat part of our property where the topsoil wasn't long ago scraped or washed away. I enjoy strolling out there in the early morning sun and even in the early morning fog and rain but in the dark of night? Not so much. And you know that this is a problem when you cook from the garden, don't you? Because sometimes, right at the very last minute, what the soup really needs to make it sing is a scattering of scallion or a sprinkle of cilantro. And sometimes, when the day has had it's way with you, and you can barely drag yourself into the kitchen, all you really want for dinner is a freshly picked green salad and maybe a glass of chardonnay.
So with the shorter days leaving me with less and less light at the end of mine, i decided to take some action. Luckily not much would be required. Just to the right of the kitchen door and sheltered by the stairs is a sliver of a raised bed, eight square feet in all. He built it for me five or maybe seven years ago. I've lately been using it as a halfway house for new slips and starts, anything that needs a daily looking at really.
The old sides were bowed along two edges, spilling the backfilled clay out of the bed, but he repaired that for me in just a few minutes. The soil in that bed was never properly amended for growing vegetables so i sprinkled lime and dolomite and bonemeal as instructed by the soil test i paid UH for a few years ago. Since i know exactly where the soil in that bed came from there is no need to have it tested again. I spread a little azomite, too, because i had some and the plants seem to like it.
Our clay soil can be rock hard but the bed is tiny and it took me only a few sweaty minutes to turn. I added a wheelbarrow full of screened manure and turned it again, smashing the larger clods apart with satisfying thwacks from the back of my shovel. I wanted to plant some greens right away but instead i watered it well and let it rest.
It's been about two weeks now and there are a few young weeds greening the surface. Allowing these weeds to sprout reduces the seed bank and will save me some time in the next few weeks. I'll pull them later today and plant.
You might be thinking that eight square feet is not very big and yes, you would be right, it's small. But i have been practicing the time honored art of encroachment, layering woodchips, coffee grounds, lemongrass tops, and compost around the edges for a good while now. I have tucked in a young papaya tree, a chile pepper, and a few strawberry plants. There is room, still, for some basil and maybe a patch of mint or oregano. And soon my garden will start, as it should, at the kitchen door.