This is a picture of two of my six 4’x4’x8″ raised bed square foot garden boxes. We had an absolutely perfect day to work outside (sunny with a high of 68) so I threw my plans for the day up in the air and decided to start topping off the Mel’s Mix in the garden boxes in preparation for planting our spring garden. (The mix settles during the winter. I can’t figure out where it ‘goes,’ but about half of the mix is gone.) My husband came along to give me moral support – and to insult me while I learned how to use our new-to-us cement mixer. Our 91 pound puppy, Amber, came with us just because she likes to be with us and loves being outside.
Last year we bought the mixer, thinking it would help me get the components of Mel’s Mix combined better. (The components of Mel’s Mix are peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find. I use cotton burr, mushroom, and barnyard, with a bit of homemade thrown in. ) I used to dip out the components into a wheelbarrow, then use a shovel to mix it up as well as I could and then fight to get the wheelbarrow through the door of the garden fencing, shoveling out the Mel’s Mix into one of the boxes, scoop by scoop. It was a huge job.
My husband made a nice handle for moving the cement mixer around, if necessary, and we put the mixer behind the shop, next to the square foot garden, in the row of trash cans I use for all the Mel’s Mix stuff. We put a tarp over the mixer and the long extension cord for it for the winter.
Today I put together one batch of Mel’s Mix, putting each measure into the cement mixer for the first time. I saw that it would hold a lot more, so I added the components for a second batch. We plugged the mixer in and mixed the stuff for about 3 or 4 minutes. It was mixed SO much better than I could do with the shovel! We poured some of the mix into a large plastic yard basket with handles (about half full so I could lift it) and then I took it over and dumped it into a garden box.( It took 2 cement mixer loads to top off one of the raised bed boxes.) We kept mixing and dumping until we ran out of some of the components of the Mel’s Mix. (We topped off 3 of the boxes.) Then, because my energy had run out before we used up the components, we went ahead and covered up the cement mixer again and put the tops on all the trash cans holding the compost, etc., before going to town.
The co-op apparently closes at noon on Saturday, so replenishing our supplies will have to wait until at least Monday. They usually don’t have the vermiculite I need and have to order it, but we’ll can get what we can and order the rest to pick up later in the week.
The mixer helps a LOT, but doesn’t make it so it isn’t really physical work for this old broad. It does a MUCH better job of mixing the components. I now know how to move the mixer bowl up and down, so I’ll be able to do that now any time I want to.
We finished enough garden boxes so that if we find good onion sets at the co-op Monday, I can go ahead and get them. We already have some string for marking the garden ‘squares’ that will weather being out in the sun better than the stretchy nylon string we used last year. (That was nice to use, but deteriorated quickly.)
The season is almost starting – at least for onions! I’m determined to get the beds ready for planting BEFORE I actually get the plants this year. Trying to do the prep AND the planting in one day is too much!
After eating some late lunch mid afternoon, this lady crashed in her recliner…