Can you dig it?

My spare time is consumed by gardening at the moment, which makes me very happy. We dug a 2+ foot deep trench and placed chicken wire around the perimeter, and then buried it to discourage gophers from moving in. We also amended all the rows and planting holes with compost. We primarily referenced Carrots Love Tomatoes, but also the Western Garden Book and the internet to plan our layout.

We are growing heirloom varieties well suited to our needs and growing conditions. We plan to use methods to cultivate our garden that build long term soil fertility. For example, we want to control crawling pests that have exoskeletons like earwigs and cutworms without pesticides, since the residual effects may harm beneficial soil microbes. So we plan to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of the soil periodically.

We sowed arugula seeds in the garden this weekend and have onions, peppers, tomatoes, okra, and beans on a heat mat in tiny peat pots. It’s fun to see what pops up each day. The beans sprouted first, followed by the tomatoes. We’re still waiting on the peppers.

I should clarify that when I say we, I mean my boyfriend and I with him doing most of the work. Try as I might, my manual labor skills don’t match those of a wildland firefighter tradesperson, but he lets me pretend I do half.

Soil prepped

I also dug up several dozen t-posts, during which I learned how to use a shovel properly. Believe it or not, it made me like digging much better than I used too, and much more efficient at it.

I was missing snow and real winter the day we stopped by a nursery to price soil amendments. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, until I saw a pomelo tree. The short, dreary winter days of this January have been punctuated by the sweet acidic flavor bursts of citrus that are so readily available this time of year. The pomelo, although not widely available, has always been my favorite.

Pomelo in its original digs

It was an impulse buy that represents a mini celebration of the mild climate we now live in. For some reason, owning a tree makes me feel more grown up. Perhaps it has to do with the incredible garden my parents cultivate, I’m not really sure.

Anyway, the tree was root-bound in an ugly black plastic pot. This situation for a tree representing another step in adulthood just wouldn’t do. My tree deserves beautiful, spacious digs. So I bought the cheapest pot that was made to last and a suitable size to last a couple years. Unfortunately, it was a plastic colored to look like faux terracotta. No thank you. Time for a rattle can remedy!

Perhaps since I was heading home from news years celebrations when we made this stop, I wanted a metallic element for my fancy tree. I settled on a dark color too, to try to keep the roots warmer which I read citrus trees like.


Like everyone else in the spray paint club tells you, primer is important and use lots of light swishing coats to get an even non-drippy finish. Embarrassingly  it took me several failed projects to get the hang of it but it’s a skill I think anybody should have in their repertoire! So, practice on things you don’t care about first. Learn from my mistakes.


I got lazy about the cardboard pad but the lawn needed to be mowed anyway so my mess mostly disappeared when I mowed it.

Painting pot stage 3

I decided to forgo tape and went for a misty transition between the gold and black. Hamley and her other duck friends curiously watched my work. Those little ladies are laying 5 eggs a day at the moment!


Several weeks later and rain storms later, the paint is still intact and my lone large fruit is ripening! I cover the tree in a cozy wool blanket during nights that we may get a frost.

Pomelo in the garden

I may paint it turquoise or something later, but I’m happy with how it is for now.

Any gardening in your life lately? Or do you live in a concrete jungle, surrounded by snow, or have a black thumb at the moment?


5 responses to “Can you dig it?

  1. I may start volunteering at the Presidio nursery to get some gardening in, it would be mostly propagating native plants for habitat restoration but good practice none the less! I cannot wait until we both have our own gardens going!

    • Natives are typically tough to propagate so that will be great practice for you! I can’t wait until we both do too! I imagine them being beautiful, delicious wonderlands!

  2. I am really impressed by your gardening skills. I have none. I killed my tomato plants last year. Oops. I need to learn though, because I know it’ll save me SO much money on veggies. You’ve inspired me to try again!

    • Please don’t beat yourself up! It’s much more difficult to garden in cold places like Utah. I hope you do! If you start tomatoes from seed now is the time to do it. Honestly, if you’re not confident gardening yet I recommend buying started plants from a local nursery that will know what works in your area after the last frost date, which is around April 19 for Salt Lake City. Also, your local Cooperative Extension may have a Master Gardener program, which offers excellent and free expertise! Please let me know how it goes!

      • That’s some solid advice! Thanks 🙂 Ever since learning about my gluten & sugar intolerance we’ve been eating vegetables like there’s no tomorrow, so I’m determined to start growing my own!

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