I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided to expand the garden to 400 square feet this year. That's a lot of work for one woman to pull off. The three new beds went in where there had previously been lawn, so I had to remove 300 square feet of sod first before I could even get to the double-digging. I also had the brilliant idea that I should transplant the sod into some sketchy parts of the front lawn. Well, that lasted through the first bed when it became clear that the re-sodding part of the project was slowing down the more critical part of getting the garden dug. At that point all of the sod started going into the compost bin.
It hasn't helped that I do everything the hard way, but I'm committed to my methods. It's just been me, my shovel and my gardening fork. No sod cutter and no roto-tiller here.
Slowly, I'm making progress. The original bed is fully planted, and the first new bed is two-thirds planted (I'll finish it tonight when it cools off a little). The second bed is de-sodded and almost completely double-dug. I've got about four more feet to go. I should finish that tonight as well. The third bed is de-sodded and I've got compost and manure spread on top, ready to be incorporated when I dig it, hopefully tomorrow.
My friend John brought over an enormous load of aged manure last month, at least two cubic yards, maybe a bit more. Collin sifted it all for me with the sifter I finally got around to making this year, and he helped to spread it and the compost on the days he was here. It's great that he's old enough now to make a significant contribution. He tried out double-digging one day, but I think it will be another year or so before he can take over a good portion of that task. But next year it'll be much easier, since there won't be any new beds.
I'm still hardening off the tomatoes and peppers, so it's not that big of a deal that the beds aren't done yet. I won't have the earliest tomatoes in the neighborhood, but I should have oodles of them. I did unfortunately discover that the new beds contain a lot of cutworms (the original bed had none whatsoever), so hopefully I can defend all of my baby plants from them. I'm scrounging up all kinds of things to use as cutworm collars.
It's definitely a frantic time, but it feels so good to be out there every day, playing in the dirt, feeling the sun on my face, taking in the smells of springtime. Yesterday while I was digging a trio of vivid orioles landed in the nearest tree. What a treat! All of this has been work, but it's fun work and very rewarding.