We finally started working on our gardenOn August 15, 2018 by Vlad4 min read
When we got this land, the first thing we wanted to do was to start a nice, small vegetable garden. Unfortunately, the buying process dragged on for longer than what we expected and by the time we got our keys and deeds it was already late April and we were already passed the growing season.
With a bitter taste in our mouths, we were forced to postpone all our gardening plans and start renovations on our house. We needed to get our house in move-in condition as fast as possible because we didn’t want to pay both our house mortgage and a rent in the city.
Two months later and here we are.
We got out our rented apartment and we got enough done to be able to eat, sleep and wash in our new home. Renovations for our kitchen are scheduled for this month, but until we get started on that we had a few weekends to breathe and focus on other things.
Breathing is good!
Taking a break from all the construction work gave us time to finally relax and start feeling like home. We spend a lot of this time doing small random projects, none of which were significant enough to write a post about, but together they made our property look better.
With most of the gravel and sand for cement out of the way, I took the opportunity and patched up part of our front-yard lawn. Well, it’s not a proper lawn, it’s more of a nice grassy area in front of the house with clovers and all sorts of things growing amongst it.
This past weekend we bought a trash can, installed a mailbox and finished painting a few more doors and windows in our soon-to-be bedroom. I’ve also scythed most of our orchard to allow us to gather fallen plums and apples. Perhaps you didn’t know, but plums happen to be the main ingredient for the traditional Romanian drink named “palinca”.
Preparations for our future garden
We had an absurdly rainy summer this year, we had huge thunderstorms every day for the past six weeks. This was bad news for farmers around here, like our neighbour, who were unable to make hay since cut grass would rot rather than dry in these wet conditions.
Our neighbour was really awesome and gave us two bails of hay that were ruined by a storm and had started to mould from the inside out. As soon as I got them I went to work with what I had readily available and in abundance.
We intend to make our garden in the back of the house. It’s a big enough open field that gets full sunlight from early afternoon to late evening. It’s close to our well, to our house and the hose-bib we plan to install. But, most of our land is a lush grass-covered clay loam soil, but mostly clay.
It’s fertile, but it doesn’t hold water and it becomes hard as a brick when it is dry. I want to transform this clay land into a nutrient-rich and high tilth garden soil. And I don’t want to do it without spending a dime. So I won’t be using gypsum or any other stuff that I have to buy. Implicitly this will take a hell of a lot longer.
Mulching and composting with hay
I’ve laid out hay over the patch of land where we plan to do that garden. So far I’ve added two think layers of hay as mulch. This ended up killing most weeds that were growing there, for now. They will be back as soon as the hay breaks down a little bit more.
We’re more than half a year away from when we need to plant, I’m pretty sure that this hay will break down until then. I want it to mix with the clay, so before winter comes we’re going to have the whole area ploughed and covered in mulch again. I’m hoping this will break it down enough to let more air go inside.
That area is also deprived of the various lifeforms that help speed up the decomposing process. There are very few earthworms around. So to help with I started a big compost pile right uphill from the garden.
Hay by itself won’t compost well. So until I started scything our orchard there were no big results. But this weekend I had loads of fresh cut lush grass. I layered it with a bunch of hay, trying to eyeball a 2:1 ratio of hay to fresh-cut grass. I also added some kitchen scraps and a healthy amount of compost accelerant, thus breaking my “no spending rule” for the first time.
We have daily rains, so all that’s left for me to do is to turn it every few days to bring air back inside the pile and add kitchen scraps whenever I can. I’ll keep you updated!
Hello and welcome!
We (Vlad & Greti) are building a home on a homestead in a rural area of Romania in Western Europe and sharing our story as two passionate gardeners who ditched the city for a simpler, better life.