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SLE3RF Begins

Posted by kevinwolz on May 9, 2010

It’s finally here. Almost two months after starting this blog, SLE3RF has begun!

After a morning in the greenhouse, potting up my many plants, and two final exams (one easy and one just ridiculous), I packed up all my belongings and headed up to Wisconsin with my dad. Good-bye U of I…at least until Wednesday when I have to return for two more exams. :.\ Our van was completely full – half with dorm stuff, half with plants. I spent the whole ride planning out what this initial weekend would entail.

The main goal on Friday was to pick up where we left off last time and finish constructing the garden. A few weeks ago, we hauled many yards of manure, half-finished compost, and nearly finished compost as a rich base to add to the skimpy layer of topsoil in our lawn. This time, we needed to top of the last few inches with a finer, soil-like compost. Fortunately, the weather cooperated (not), providing a steady rain all day. Nevertheless, we hauled about 5 cubic yards of beautiful, sifted compost from the city garage. This also started at the city compost site like the rest, but was completely finished and finely sifted – all for the unbeatable price of $7 per yard. I have heard mixed opinions on the city compost, but I have been really happy with the quality so far. There are definitely plenty of random plastic chunks that show up in the mix, but it’s really pretty darn good for a city site.

Saturday was another jam-packed day. I was up bright and early to attend the first farmer’s market of the year (I was wrong about missing the first one last week), with two goals in mind: 1) Get my hands on some fresh, local food! and 2) Catch up with all the friendly vendors and chat about potential summer collaboration. Going to the farmer’s market is one of my absolute favorite things to do, and I can’t wait to return practically every weekend for the rest of the summer! Food purchases included rhubarb, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, morels, asparagus, eggs, banana bread, dill bread, and granola. Yum!

Next, my parents and I headed over to the UW Madison Arboretum for the annual native plant sale. I know what you’re thinking: “Just what he needs! More plants!” Okay, but here’s the thing: of my love for plants, native plants definitely rule my world. I first really discovered plants through my involvement in habitat restoration in the forest preserves by my house, and the natives captured me instantly. Anyway, almost everything I was growing in the greenhouses is a houseplant of some sort. These natives will all go outside to augment our landscaping. For what it’s worth, the 25 prairie and woodland species I bought will also drastically increase the biodiversity of our property. I should mention that I’m not the only loony guy looking to landscape with natives; the sale was packed. I had to throw quite a bit of elbows and knock over a few old ladies to get the good ones.

The last task on Saturday was to put the finishing touches on the garden and get it ready for planting. I dug out the paths, raked the beds smooth, and constructed the mounds for the “three-sisters” portion. Then, my mom and I hauled in several yards of leftover woodchips from a neighbor to fill in and complete the paths. By the end of the day, I was sore all over and simply exhausted. Thanks to both my parents for another weekend of grueling work! I couldn’t have gotten all this done without them.

This morning, my dad and I headed to the local flea market – something we’ve done for longer than I can remember. The flea market has its on and off days. With my engineering mind, I love going to see all the random equipment for sale and imagining what I could make out of it. Mostly, it’s just a bunch of crap (in fact, I can probably point out a few items that have returned weekly since I was in grade school), but every once in a while you find something really neat.

The rest of the day was devoted to the initial planting of my garden. I transplanted and direct seeded several crops, as well as planned out future plantings for the warmer season crops. It was really kind of surreal; a month ago, I only had a picture in my head and containers of soil on my dorm room desk. Today, just like my summer, it came to life.


One Response to “SLE3RF Begins”

  1. Joan said

    Sounds great Kevin. How about some pictures of the different stages of
    your garden?

    How are the pumpkins doing?

    Enjoy your summer!!!

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