BYG Week #2- Pests and Progress

Our little backyard garden saw a LOT of progress this week…I’d like to say that I planned to get both garden beds done AND have plants in the ground all in one week, but truth is, we’re just flying by the seat of our pants, as per usual!

Last week, I started my seeds three different ways–Peat pots, soil pots, and rock wool cubes. I thought I had two, three weeks until I had to worry about having a place to plant them, but every morning I would wake up to more and more sprouts pushing through the soil!

Alright Sunflowers. This is the year. This is the year I don’t accidentally kill all of you.

The sunflowers were first, then the peas, then tomatoes…all in the peat pots, I might add! I realized that I had to move faster than I was if I wanted to keep these babies alive, so we grabbed our shovels, and Daniel and I started digging out our first planter bed!

We picked the spot for the amount of sunshine it gets, but the soil was ROUGH. It’s pretty much virgin desert dirt…it hasn’t had anything planted in it for at least twelve years, and it was hard as rock, so we started by soaking it with water, letting it sit for thirty minutes, and then soaking it again. This definitely helped the digging process, but it was still backbreaking labor.

Our bed site before ‘construction’ began

We dug down about two feet, and then sifted all of the rocks out of the soil, adding in some fertilizer and gardening soil as we shoveled the dirt back in.

Halfway through the dig
Sifting through the dirt and adding fertilizer

I’ll be honest…amending desert soil was a PAIN. What I imagined in my head would take two, three hours at most took five hours one day, and two the next. It definitely involved blood, sweat, and tears, but after adding some red mulch, putting up our little picket fence to keep Stella out, and lining the bed with river rocks, the end result was well worth it.

Our first garden bed, ready for ‘AZ Fall’

The sunflowers went in the SECOND the bed was ready. They were busting out of their peat pots, and the last thing I wanted was for them to die because I wasn’t prepared. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve had the WORST luck with sunflowers in the past. They’re Daniel’s favorite flower, and I’m determined that I won’t rest until I can grow him a yard FULL of gigantic yellow sun babies.

The peas were also getting hungry, thirsty, and in need of some good sunlight, so they were next to go in. After watching every season of EVERY Monty Don Netflix gardening show, I decided to make our own pea trellis/cage until I could get around to finding something a little more supportive. I snipped off the green, pliable shoots of our Mesquite tree outback, and bent them over the peas to make a little  hutch to keep the birds out and give their little tendrils something to hang on to.

Our little pea coliseum. 

So far, they’ve been LOVING it…But, we’ve already got a pest problem in our garden. My first five pea plants were completely eaten practically overnight by something. After watching these seedlings grow so quickly and so beautifully, it was really sad to see them I still haven’t seen the bugs themselves, but their bite marks are EVERYWHERE. I got an organic pest deterrent at Home Depot, and sprayed it religiously morning and night. For added measure, I sowed a few more pea plants into the ground, and our new crop is looking so much better!

Our brave little pea plants

After realizing just how HARD and tough our soil was, we decided to do a raised bed for the other half of our garden. We got a hot deal on some used retainer blocks, and bought five bags of soil, which was relatively cheap as far as supplies go. All we had to do was assemble the walls in the right shape (thankfully Daniel has had lots of landscaping experience, so he knew how everything was supposed to fit together), and then toss in the soil, and we were good to go!

I LOVE the look of this raised bed! We did end up putting some fencing up to keep the Bulldogs out, at least until the plants are more mature.

The tomato and carrot seedlings went in the first night that we had the bed set up. I woke up the next morning and three of my carrot seedlings were GONE. There was literally no trace of them. No chewed up leaves, no stems left behind…it was as if they had been abducted by aliens. We have a few bunnies in our neighborhood, so I’m thinking it may have been them, but with all of the bulldog smells in our yard, I didn’t think they would dare to come in! Whatever creature did this, I’m not happy with them…I’ll have to start new seedlings from scratch now. I put up a picket fence around the border of the raised bed, so hopefully they’ll stay away.

All of our plants that managed to survive the pests are doing great, and growing quickly! I have yet to see any lavender or strawberry sprouts, but they may just be late bloomers. Everything I read online about strawberry and lavender says that it can take them up to a month to germinate, and it’s only been a week!

We saw a lot of big changes this week, and had to put in a lot of hard work. It is so EXCITING to have roots in the soil, and despite the mystery pests, I’m hopeful that our little desert garden will give us a plentiful harvest, and lots of beauty, in no time at all.

Nasturtium, my absolute FAVORITE thing to grow, has finally made an appearance!

How is YOUR garden growing this year? I’d love to hear all about it!


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