It is that time of year when many gardens around the country are often neglected or abandoned. Some go completely feral, and some just die. We just moved into a new apartment and the previous tenets had a garden they left behind. Today we started to breathe new life into the poor used and abused garden space.
Before and After, two large tomato plants are on the left side of the bed, the sad row of corn is in the back.
The garden already contained a row of corn, a few tomato plants, a row of raspberries, and five bell pepper plants. For the most part though it was full of weeds. Mainly cheese mallow, morning glory, and purslane.
Our first step was to pull the weeds out, which was a task. The soil here is extremely compacted. It was hard and dry with a high clay content. I'm assuming that the garden has gone through many cycles of tilling in the spring, probably some chemical fertilizers, and not an ounce of mulch. The weeds were desperately trying to break up the hard soil but they were no match for mis-management.
While we were digging out the mallow we found a few sad carrots and onions that were struggling to survive. We ate the carrots and left the one onion that was worth saving.
Before and After, you can see the five pepper plants on the right side of the bed.
After we cleared the weeds out we subdivided the garden into 4'x4' squares. Then I chopped up the huge, hard chunks of dirt the best I could with a shovel. We then planted using the square foot gardening technique. We only have about 40 days until the fall frost hits so we planted quick growing, cool season plants. We planted peas, radishes, kale, broccoli raab, spinach, lettuces, arugula, and cilantro. I pruned the tomatoes and mulched around the peppers with some of the weeds we pulled.
Before and After, the raspberries can be seen in the back.
We are going to have to stay on a tight watering schedule to get the new plants established as the weather is still very hot in the day and the soil absorbs water poorly. By planting intensely I'm hoping to break up the soil a little and begin to build organic matter. Also once the vegetables are established their dense foliage will shade out any weed competition.
I also started a small compost patch with the weeds we pulled so that we now have a place for our kitchen scraps. It always feels so wrong to throw them in the garbage.
I'm excited to see how the garden fairs. Even if we get an early frost the soil will be in better shape in the spring for it.