I just had a long weekend by getting a couple of days off of work. I vowed to work in my garden -- and I think I made some definite progress. The photo below was shot just a few feet from our house. You can see my raised beds that Charlie and I built last year. Beyond that, a rock retaining wall that stretches the entire length of our pole barn (in our front yard) all the way to the backyard. A good chunk of our property is on this side of the house. Although the soil is sandiest there, it is the best place I have to put my fruit and nut plants. I had to amend the sandy soil first with compost and some bagged topsoil after digging some holes. I planted 3 hazelnut shrubs (from the Arbor Day Foundation's hazelnut project), 5 blueberry plants, 3 raspberry plants, 1 blackberry and 1 gooseberry. The blueberry planting instructions said to get them in the ground as early as possible in the spring, but they already look sad after a couple of cold days. Hopefully they will pull through.
I also have some wire mesh to put around the new plants -- to keep the deer and rabbits out. It is just a matter of cutting the mesh and assembling the little cylindrical fences.
You can also see in the photo above that I am working on my raised beds. Last year I put down whole bags of topsoil to start my garden inside of. I had heard that the plastic would choke out and kill the grass and that you could just grow inside the bags. It was only half true. While the grass under the bags did die, around the edges and where two bags met, the grass managed to come up anyway. And I did grow a lot of produce in those bags -- but it wasn't ideal. This year, I raked and shoveled the topsoil (emptied from the bags last fall) to one side of the raised bed. Then I put down cardboard and newspaper as a thick sheet mulch. I literally picked the grass roots out with each shovel of dirt and piled up the soil on top of the cardboard -- and then did the other side of the bed. It took a long time and made me wish I thought to put down the cardboard last year instead.
I still have to add compost and more topsoil and composted manure to build up the volume of the beds. Then I will put more newspaper on top to help keep the weeds out. I didn't get that completed though because the weather turned fowl and the carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand became very painful (originally, my job is what caused my carpal tunnel problems -- but apparently shoveling doesn't help the situation either).
Today we picked up some shelving for the garage at a home improvement store. I need to get the garage organized so it is easier to work out of it this summer. Right now there are buckets of bird seed piled in with our camping chairs and recycling bins. I got a new garden hose and Charlie got a heavy duty pruner (he loves cutting trees for some reason). There really is a lot to do around here -- I have chickens coming later this month and raised beds to finish and get planted. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had two more small raised beds to set up (got a good deal from the Tractor Supply store). I think I made a decent amount of progress on it so far.