28 January 2010

Vegetable Beds are for Vegetables

I built the second bed today, but there is much more dirt to put in it. I would have finished it but I decided it was time to go through the stack of old lumber in our shed and figure out how many boards and what sizes we actually had so I knew how many beds I could build. Yesterday I was looking at an amorphous pile of wood and thinking there was no way I had enough to build all the beds we'd planned. Once organized it turned out the pile was in fact much larger.

Now of course I'm rethinking where I want to put all the beds. Last year I dug a bed at the edge of our parking area (a large gravel patch in front of the house) where I thought at the time everything would get enough sun to be productive without getting so much sun that it would all dry out.

Then last year went on to be the wettest one of the decade, and the shade level was much too high. Gardeners will appreciate this: despite having three healthy plants, we never got one single zucchini. Really! This year I tried to pick sunnier sites, but I find myself doubting a few of my selections. The bed I built today is just under 2/3 the size of what I had planned to put in that location--eleven feet long instead of the planned 16. What do you know, I had no 16 foot boards. Do they even cut 16 foot lumber any more? Anyway, I shifted it to the sunnier side of the 16 feet, so I think I've got a good bed. But I wonder about the other three, the Oak Beds on the other side of the yard. The one in front of the woodpile should be fine, but the rest... I don't know. I have to call in Smittywife for an opinion.

I also continued mucking out the chicken coops, which is as disgusting as you assume it is. I had the wheelbarrow about 3/4 full of shit when it got unbalanced and tipped over. I was inside the coop at the time so it didn't get all over me at least, but it meant I had to scoop the same shit twice. Oy.

The real problem is this: vegetable beds are for vegetables. I noticed this afternoon when I went to add the last few scoops of dirt to yesterday's bed that the barn cats had explored the bed last night. At least they didn't do anything in it, but it was full of paw prints. Then I go around the side of the garage to count boards, come back, and the dogs are both in the bed, digging, eating chicken poop (a canine delicacy to judge by their attitudes), having a high old time. They got chased out and I relocated their tie-down farther away. Then I let the chickens out of the coop to roam while I was counting lumber. Again I come back around the garage and there are five chickens in my vegetable bed. The hens had made themselves little nests in there. It was ridiculous. Of course it smells like their coop so I can't blame them, and a little extra fertilizer never hurts, but they shouldn't be nesting in there. Sheesh.

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