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My Garden
Date May 12, 2013
Author creative

Bill and the Tiller

Bill and the Tiller

My Garden

Every year when the middle of May rolls around I get excited because it’s time to get my garden ready. I have a nice plot in my backyard- it’s approximately 8 X 14- plenty of space for veggies and herbs.

I began hand-tilling the soil a few weeks ago and felt a little discouraged- the dirt was light brown, and full of rocks… things weren’t looking good. A few days later, my sister and her boyfriend stopped by for a visit. Bill (my sister’s significant other) informed me that he had a gas tiller, and some extra mushroom manure- he would be happy to stop by and help me prep my garden. In the interim I continued to care for the soil by spreading crushed eggshells (for calcium) and adding Osmocote (Nitrogen). I really wanted my plot to be nutrient-rich before my plants went in.

Bill arrived with his tiller, a wheelbarrow, and half a bed-full of smelly, delicious mushroom manure. We put our work-gloves on, and lowered the piece of machinery onto the garden plot. As the tiller started, thick plumes of smoke from the motor filled the yard; I began to get excited. The thick metal blades broke through the dirt effortlessly. As the tiller continued to turn the dirt something beautiful happened- the brown dirt began to turn dark and darker- there was workable soil under there after all.

Bill spent the next 20 minutes making symmetrical rows in the soil with the tiller- he was clearly enjoying himself. Finally, it was my turn to use the machine. I went back and forth, continuing along Bill’s path. My feet began to sink deeply into the soft earth as I continued my work.

After the entire lot had been adequately tilled, Bill and I returned to his truck and began loading the mushroom manure into a wheelbarrow. The mixture was thick, and pungent. I placed the compost onto the soil and began to wonder- will my vegetables be bigger and more tasty? I had never used this much fertilizer before, just standard plant food.

The mushroom manure was unloaded and we made a few more passes with the power tiller. When our work was complete Bill said, “We’re going to need a disco ball down here because your plants are going to be dancing in this soil!” I agreed.

Prepped Soil

Prepped Soil

Yesterday as it was raining I placed mesh over the soil- I hate pulling weeds. Today I visited my local nursery and bought a dozen tomato plants, peppers, herbs and strawberries. This year I’m hoping for a huge crop of tomatoes so that I can make 20 quarts of homemade sauce; that should be enough to get me through the winter.

More to come.

Chef Chuck Kerber

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