We are in the process of moving from the city to not-the-city. At the moment, this means I spend Saturdays and Sundays in the city with one kid (the two of them swap turns) and Monday-Friday night in not-the-city.
I am really going to miss the city. That is another tale for another day. (Or not. It would probably bore you to tears.) But the fact is, there are some upsides to not-the-city.
One big one is: BACKYARD.
I have not had a backyard since I moved out of my parents’ house at 18. And it wasn’t even until I moved to Chicago (five years ago) that I had easily accessible outdoor space to call my own. But in Chicago we have three balconies, two of which get about half a day of sunshine. So I did as much container gardening as I could. I grew beans and peas and squash and cucumbers and tomatoes and lettuce and spinach and chard and herbs and carrots and broccoli all in pots on my patios. And I realized that I am just a frustrated would-be urban homesteader. I would have loved a city backyard full of crops.
As it is, I have a nice, huge not-the-city backyard (and front yard, but it needs a fence before I can plant veggies in it) and, undaunted by the fact that here in the midwest it is not time to be planting vegetables, I got next year’s garden–my first in-ground garden since age 16–started by just digging up a bunch of grass, turning it over and hoeing the heck out of it.
I also put my balcony compost from Chicago in trash bags and brought it to the new backyard and raked it into my newly turned-up vegetable-bed-to-be.
Not much, I know, but that’s a good three weeks of hard labor and I am duly proud of myself. The dirt is SOLID CLAY. And after one of the driest seasons on record, it wasn’t much easier, I think, than digging up the terra cotta tile on my Chicago balcony might have been and trying to make it into fertile soil. Hopefully, the leaves we raked today will be nice compost by spring and I can add that to the mix as well.
Tips from you in-ground gardeners out there would be very welcome.