Garden Prepping in Early April

Stacey Sansom’s Garden Adventure | Garden Planning 2023

Sometimes the best laid plans do not happen as we expect. In the case of gardening, this can be for a lot of reasons including the weather, our health, etc. When you have a combination of reasons, you just go with the flow as best as you can. This is today…

Original garden plans

I had originally planned on having the garden beds ready to go by March 1, 2023. At the latest. That did not happen.

The plan was to have the beds ready and completely topped off with compost and added soil as needed by mid-February so that I could pull soil samples and get them sent off for lab testing. This would ensure that I would have ample time to improve and amend the beds before the plants went into them. Nope. That did not happen.

What did happen is school, migraines, bad back, stress, winter hanging on, a freeze with 2-inches of ice on the garden, a sprinkler repair, shed being built in the backyard, helping my younger sister move across the state, weekly rainstorms, and a windstorm that took down a fence. Not necessarily in that order as the list is overly simplified.

Garden plans today

Here we are on April 3, 2023…

The beds are getting closer to being ready, but they are not done. The trellis and wood tomato cages are laying in the grass surrounding the raised beds. The weeds have overtaken the front flowerbeds. The fallen fence pieces are still mounded in the backyard.

However, today was a good day.

I did manage to get outside long enough to start my foot-top sandal tan and a light sunburn around my neckline where the v-neck t-shirt did not cover it. That is only going to be more pronounced as the season progresses. It can’t be fully avoided.

Some progress is better than none

The beauty of gardening is that it is forgiving. If you don’t get it planted on time, it does not mean that it is entirely too late. Even if you are in a warm climate, it does not mean you can not grow it just because it is 2 weeks past the last recommended planting date. This just means you may not get a full harvest before the plants succumb to the bugs or environmental circumstances. It could mean that you may have to provide more of something — shade, water, bug deterrent, or fertilizer.

So take one from my crazy garden adventure and just keep going. The worst case, the plants die. The best case, you get a harvest. Plant anyway even if you are running behind schedule.

Today’s progress

It would not be fair to tell you to wing it as you go if I was not open about my current situation, so here it is.

I have 7 total raised garden beds — 2 small (3’x3’) and 5 large (3’x6’). These are about knee deep if filled all the way to the top of the beds’ frames. They are not fancy. They are a “use what you have” solution for getting started that are going into their third growing season this year.

Stacey Sansom’s 2023 Garden Adventure | 03 April 2023 | Garden progress.
The Garden | 3 April 2023 | Two beds are ready for planting once the trellis is vertical again.

As of today, I have 2 of the large beds ready to plant in. In these beds, I have marked where the drill auger will be used to make the holes for putting the primitive trellis vertical again. The makeshift ollas are in place, filled, and covered. The DIY in-bed composting bins are in place and ready for composting to start. Two beds are virtually ready! I am delighted with this progress.

Stacey Sansom’s 2023 Garden Adventure | 03 April 2023 | DIY olla irrigation pots
The Garden | 3 April 2023 | Makeshift DIY Olla irrigation pots are in place and ready for planting. They are filled to fully saturate the terra cotta pot without soaking them for 24-hours prior to placement. Since planting will not occur for a few days, this should be ample time for the pot to become saturated and ready for watering once the plants need it.
Stacey Sansom’s 2023 Garden Adventure | 03 April 2023 | DIY in-bed composting bins
The Garden | 3 April 2023 | Makeshift DIY In-Bed Composting Bins. These are pet food storage containers with hinged lids and holes have been cut on the bottom and sides and then buried with about 1-inch above the soil. Small holes for airflow are punched for airflow where not buried. I found a beautiful worm when displacing the soil to bury the composting bin. It was added to the bin with leaves and a couple of scoops of soil.
Stacey Sansom’s 2023 Garden Adventure | 03 April 2023 | Garden plants waiting to be planted
The Garden | 03 April 2023 | Plants waiting for planting

The majority of my started seeds turned seedlings are outside hardening off and are ready to plant in the beds. They have endured their first couple of Texas thunderstorms and have been beaten and thrashed by the high winds. They look a little ragged, but they are doing okay.

It looks like one of the lingering frosts killed one of the Mist Flower plants I bought for the pollinators, but the other one still looks healthy. One of the struggling Jubilee tomato plants appears to be struggling with dampening off, but I shoved the stem further into the soil in hopes that it will root more higher on the stem. Worst case, I need to go buy a couple to supplement my yellow tomato plants.

The remaining raised beds have been filled with a variety of top, potting, and garden soils. Their levels are much improved, but will probably need 3-4 more bags each. However. I did not want to completely fill them with soil because I still needed to get the compost in the beds. More soil will be obtained once the compost is added.

I did finally purchase 12 bags of compost today. That took some patience and driving. It is the hummus and manure blend. It will need to be mixed in with the other soils because sometimes it is not as aged as it should be.

The local Home Depot was sold out. I am glad that I checked before I drove out that way and sat in traffic. Highway 380 traffic is not so fun sometimes – most of the time with the road construction.

The next closest store (price and location) was Atwood’s and their website said they had double the bags I needed. In the 20 minutes it took me to get to the store, they either sold out or their online inventory needs a lot of work. I did grab a couple of white Guara plants for the front flowerbed.

Being close to Walmart, I checked their app to see if they had any in stock and could not find it available. Since the other Walmart did not have any on their garden center patio when I went on Saturday, I felt it best to skip the disappointment and check elsewhere.

I drove the rest of the way into Denton to check the Home Depot there. The website said they had a few hundred bags of it. I found a partial pallet that was accessible by customers. Of course it is busy and the garden center is a mess with stocking and moving shelving. Also, no carts available. I snapped a picture of the bag and SKU and took it to the register with my 4 plants. I asked if someone could pull me 12 bags and load them into my vehicle. Sure enough, they were happy to help but were not quick about it. I did finally get my 12 bags loaded after my receipt changed hands at least 3 times before the found the bags.

Looking forward

The next couple of days will entail…

  • Spreading compost in the remaining 5 beds.
  • Adding additional soil to the remaining 5 beds if needed.
  • Placing 2-3 Lola pots in each of the remaining beds.
  • Marking where the wood tomato cages will go in the raised beds.
  • Digging holes for the trellis and tomato cage legs and getting them vertical.
  • Pulling soil samples for sending off for lab testing.
  • Obtaining additional bins for creating in-bed composters.
  • Obtaining additional soaker hoses for each of the beds.
  • Finalizing plans for plants — transplants and direct sowing seeds.
  • Pulling weeds in the front flowerbeds.
Stacey Sansom’s 2023 Garden Adventure | 03 April 2023 | Garden progress soil temperature
The Garden | 03 April 2023 | Soil temperature is warm enough for planting warm weather crops. The beauty of raised beds is that the soil warms up quickly in the spring.

There is still a lot to do before I will fill that my garden is ready to simply enjoy. That is when the plants are in the soil where they belong and the final seeds are sown. Today, however, I am celebrating the wins — the progress however small it may appear.

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