The start of our vegetable patch

Hello again my dear reader,

you may remember from a previous post that we have started growing vegetables. The progress so far has been pretty amazing. It looks like whatever you put in the ground in Bermuda grows directly without a problem. We had planted dill, jalapeƱo peppers, marjoram, a couple more herbs that I can’t quite recall (possibly oregano, maybe parsley) and we had bought 6 tomato seedlings. The tomatoes have now grown enough to be transplanted to bigger pots so we did that this weekend. We also had to separate the dill and jalapeƱos because all the seeds grew and they were too cramped in the pots. So, we bought extra pots and split the herbs that were too cramped. We also bought mint seedlings so we can plan mint in either pots or the ground but that job was left for a later date.

The big job of the weekend was to create the vegetable patch in the ground. We spoke to our landlady who seemed quite keen to have a bigger patch so that she can also grow some vegetables. So, we chose to go with a rectangular patch about 1.2m by 4m (4×13 feet) and chose to place it at the easternmost side of the garden where it will get the maximum sun. The ground is currently covered in a weird kind of grass that looks more like long reeds than traditional grass. Apparently, this kind of grass is called Bermudagrass and is particularly tough to get rid of. Given the size of our patch, it was always going to be a big job to prepare the ground. This is a job that I did almost completely on my own since Jitka had bread in the oven and was baking a spinach pie so had enough other work to get on with.

The ground preparation consists of many iterations of repeating the same steps. First, move back about 5-10 cm from the short edge of the patch. Put the pitchfork into the ground deep enough to be able to remove the roots of the grass which are much longer than traditional grass. Then, tilt forward to disconnect the grass and tilt back in a lifting action to remove a whole patch. Turn it over and carry on like this until a new line is complete. Then, get low to the ground and pick up each of those bundles of grass and soil, shake the earth out (rehome any earthworms, we need them for our plants) and throw the roots and grass on a pile with the rest. If we had a compost heap, then we would have put the green stuff there but we’re not that advanced. Repeat this sequence enough times to cover the whole ground.

It took me just under 4 hours to do the whole patch. At the end, my back hurt (less than I expected, incidentally), my hamstrings were a little tight and my forearms were on fire. But, I was also quite satisfied. I certainly had a feeling of achievement and a newly invigorated anticipation to see what our vegetables will be like. Today is the second day since the “farming” took place and I’m still sore. I hope to complete the job next weekend, if the weather permits and I will then start to take photographs of the vegetable patch to create a sort of patch progress video. I’ll see whether I manage to get round to it. Another benefit of all this work is that I didn’t need to do any other exercise. Jitka and I did play tennis for an hour on Sunday morning but it was quite hot and we were not adequately prepared (we had no hats and I forgot my sunglasses) so we didn’t play with much intensity.

With the patch done, we enjoyed a nice dinner outside and a well-earned fruit smoothie (cutting down on alcohol) to top off a great weekend. It really felt like a mini-holiday, albeit a partly agricultural one. All this natural bio-living is giving me many ideas for the future. Nothing concrete yet but loads of ideas to think about. I many expand on some of them in a later post. Please check back soon!

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