Less Noise, More Green: Amending sandy soil, composting and planting peas and lettuce in my edible landscape

Friday, April 4, 2014

Amending sandy soil, composting and planting peas and lettuce in my edible landscape

This week has felt like gardening season is off with a bang! Several days of 50 degree weather and above freezing nights, bright sunshine and blue skies - heaven! I took full advantage and got some garden clean up, composting, soil amending and most excitingly, some seed planting done.

composting, urban farming
My kitchen compost bin for all the produce scraps, coffee and tea bags. I dry egg shells and keep them separately to grind and use around  plants as a barrier  to slugs

I added some bags of mature manure to small sections of my back beds earlier in the week. My friend Roda and I are planning on adding aged alpaca manure to the whole garden today but I wanted to plant lettuce, radishes and spring onions before then. The soil in these beds is gorgeous. After many years of adding compost and manure the texture and fertility is really good.

composting, urban farming
The first additions to my compost bin: browns on the bottom, then greens......

The new beds I have been digging on the side and front of the house are a different story. The soil in the front is loam with some sand, but the bed on the side is all sand. Ugh. It's easy to work, but awful for growing anything other than hostas!  To get this bed ready for planting I added three bags of the aged manure and four large bags of organic garden soil amended for vegetable growing.

....followed by more browns. Add in a ratio of 3 browns to 1 green and keep moist.

To amend sandy soil, you need to add a lot of organic material to create structure that will retain water. Peat is often recommended but I am cautious of adding it because Rhode Island soil tends to be acidic and peat lowers the pH of soil.  In a few weeks when the grass is turned over in the front yard, I will have a delivery of compost made and I'll turn in and top dress this bed with it. It will take several years of love for this bed to reach it's potential but it will get there. Love your soil, people, it is the most important factor in a successful garden.

So endeth the lesson for today. Can I hear an Amen?

planting peas, edible landscaping

After the amendments, I placed the pea teepees I constructed out of bamboo and jute twine in the soil. To help with germination, I soaked the peas for 24 hours. I'm growing shelling peas and snap peas, which I planted one inch deep and two inches apart, around the base of the frames.  Hopefully, I'll be harvesting peas at the end of May!

In front of the peas I sowed three rows of leaf lettuce which will grow quickly and I can harvest for several weeks before I need to pull up the plants to sow pumpkins. The peas will be done by the time the pumpkins start to vine and I can train them up the teepees. The varieties of lettuce are a mix of leaf color and textures and will look appealing in my edible landscape.

You can see where I dug through the mulch to plant the peas.

Once I had planted the peas around the frames, I realized I had soaked too many peas and if I didn't plant them they would go to waste. What to do?  I planted along the metal fence around my backyard vegetable garden, making little holes through the mulched walk way. Will they grow? We'll find out in five to ten days!

I'm excited about my impending poop delivery (maybe I need to rephrase that) and I have to admit I'm enjoying the physical component of these early weeks of gardening. It feels good to be moving and doing. I'll be sure to take some poop photos and share on Facebook!

Are you planting yet?



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