I know. It’s been awhile. But you have heard about the winter we had?

I’ve sort of been hunkered down, trying to survive Wisconsin’s horrible winter. My heavens it was terrible. For like a month, there was a foot of ice with ruts in the alley where I parked the jeep. A FOOT of ICE. It was unbelievable. I mean, I spent eight years in Cleveland and I don’t recollect anything this miserable. There were a few weeks where I had to carry my dog to a pee spot, put her down, let her pee, pick her up, carry her to number 2 spot, put her down, let her do her business, then pick her up and rush her back in the house before she shivered herself into shreds. Brutal. And don’t even get me started on the heating bills.

But I digress.

One of the first things I did when I got to La Crosse was find a community garden that I could get a plot in. Yes, you read that right. This former biker chick from New York City is going to garden for the first time in her life.

And let me tell you, I am daunted and terrified.

I have a 12 x 20 foot plot of dirt that I have NO  IDEA what to do with. Here’s what it looked like last month:

DSCF5382Somewhere to the left of those foot prints is my little plot. In the back is what’s called the Hoop house which is run by the Hillview Urban Agriculture Center. They plant stuff in there with the kids from the nearby schools so it’s mostly for education purposes and then they donate the produce to the local food pantries or farmer’s markets. (Check their website in about a month because I’m updating it for them.)

Anyway, I went there the other day and this is what it looks like now:

DSCF5423Right behind that tree. Here’s a better shot maybe:

DSCF5424Yeah, there it is. You see that dull outline of formerly gardened land? Yeah, that’s mine, ALL mine. Some of my neighbors have their shit together:

DSCF5425 DSCF5426They’ve either started turning over their soil or they have black tarp on it to get the soil to thaw faster. A lot of them have their chicken wire up already. That’s to keep out the rabbits, though I doubt it keeps out the squirrels. (I’m going to let my dog pee on the perimeter. Maybe that will help.)

Anyway, one guy, I think his name is Zack, has already done some planting. See those white logs?

DSCF5427Here’s a close up:

DSCF5428Those logs are for growing mushrooms. I know! Who knew? I didn’t!

I’ll keep an eye on those bad daddies. I guess the white stuff is riddled with the spores and when it rains, it grows. I dunno. Seems weird and very cool to me.

The hoop house is in the process of being planted.

DSCF5429It’s insanely warm in there. On the left, some spinach has already started to pop up. Those blue bins on the outside there are filled with worm poop. The Hillview people have a vermiculture farm and they donate a bunch of it to the garden

So, as I said at the beginning, I’m clueless. What I’m going to do is I’m going to do half of raised bed gardening, like the square foot gardening, and the other half I’m going to do traditionally with mostly onions and potatoes and peppers and a few tomato plants. The trellis is going to be on the south side and on that I’ll grow some cucumbers and green beans and snap peas. I’ll put some oregano and mint in 5 gallon tubs so they don’t spread all over the place, and I’m going to grow swiss chard and kale and radishes, definitely radishes, and spinach and lettuce, though I hear they bolt when it’s hot and I’m not even sure I know what bolting means, but my gardening coach said that’s what happens when it’s hot.

Oh yeah. I got a gardening coach and her name is Karlena. I’m such a newbie, when someone says turn the soil over I’m like, what? How? I mean, I know you sort of dig around and move the dirt around but, do you have to add anything to it? I don’t know. How would I know? So, she’s telling me what I can plant from seeds and what I should plant from plants and when I should be doing all this stuff.

I’m still monumentally confused, but hopefully, I can figure it out. I mean, I have an MS in applied science and people have been doing this for a millennia, right?

Lagniappe is all, it’s cool dude. You’ll manage. Just chill.




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