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It's Time to Clean-up Your Dirt: Confessions of a Cake Lady

After running 15k this weekend, and overindulging on Super Bowl food, this Cake Lady spent today cleaning up my dirt, preparing to plant my garden.

First off, I have a confession: This weekend was spent either eating or running, literally, but mostly eating.

I ran 5k on Saturday morning and ran the 10k at the Davis Stampede Sunday morning. I believe that all running distances should be explained using the metric system; after all, 15 kilometers sounds like way more than 9.3 miles.

The Davis Stampede was a great way to start out before the food fest on Super Bowl Sunday, being that I had previously stuffed myself the night before at the Dixon Game Club crab feed, and spent Saturday morning at the Shady Lady Saloon and 58 Degrees and Holding, in Sacramento, enjoying amazing food, desserts, cocktails and champagne. Clearly a spurge weekend.

Oh well, life goes on, the key is not to let a binge knock you off your progress. Plus, I can pat myself on the back for making sure to keep up my miles in order to help metabolize the junk.

My, What Clean Dirt You Have

The weather is finally warming up, and nothing puts me in a better mood than vitamin D in its pure form, the sun! Dixon is expecting 60s and sun all week, with the exception of Thursday's possible sprinkles. Since the groundhog didn't see his shadow, spring is on its way, and we have perfect garden prep weather. Bugs are still dormant or moving slowly, the wasps aren't swarming yet, and the ground is nice and soft from all the rain we have been blessed with this winter. And bonus, you can burn about 300 calories an hour sweating it out pulling weeds and digging holes.

Until a few years ago, I had a black thumb; if I planted it, it died. I found that starting small was my gardening turning point. I planted a potted garden with heirloom tomatoes in a half wine barrel, and 15" pots each with spearmint, cilantro, jalapenos, basil, and rosemary. The next year I added garlic and zucchinis to the list. I currently have several napa, green and red cabbage plants, romaine lettuce and broccoli almost ready to harvest, after growing my first winter crop ever.

Aside from the obvious health and pocket book benefits to growing your own organic food, it gives me a childlike excitement to see something come from dirt, especially when I get to feed it to my family and friends. I like to look at them each morning and feel thankful for their growth.

To get the most bang for your buck, starting seeds is the best way to go. Starts can run up to $3 each, adding up quickly, while seed packs are less than that for 50-100+ so its a great idea to share seeds with your friends; how about a wine night/seed swap? 

It's about time to start your seedlings indoors. We are in hardiness zone 8a, just for your reference, so when you look at the back of your seed packets there will be a description of the ideal times for planting and harvesting. Between mid- February and March I will be starting my celery, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash seeds.

Here's how I do it. I'm no expert by any means, but this seems to have worked for me.

Find a spot next to a bright window. Gather lots of cardboard egg cartons, I prefer the flats, but you can cut the lids off dozen boxes just as easily. Fill each with organic garden soil and push a couple seeds in each. Use a spray bottle each day to keep the soil damp, not soaking, making sure to avoid using softened water (a huge mistake I lost many house plants too). Don't forget to mark which is what, a popsicle stick works great.

The seedlings will be happy in the house until the soil temperature reaches about 75 degrees, hopefully by mid-April. The glory to using the cardboard egg carton is you can cut the cups apart and easily transfer them directly into the ground; they will compost into the soil allowing the roots to grow through.

While you're waiting for germination, take advantage of the beautiful pre-spring days we are having to clean up your dirt and get your heart rate going, while getting a good upper body workout in. 

If you don't have chickens to keep your bug population under control like I do, treat for bugs by sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the soil every few days for a couple weeks before transplanting. It's food grade and helps keep slugs, earwigs, silverfish and more from eating your hard work. Add nutrients to your dirt with compost, or by grinding your empty egg shells and used coffee grounds to sprinkle around, you can even swipe your husband's leftover fishing worms and let them loose too.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." -Audrey Hepburn

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rick February 05, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Sadly, it won't matter how much I clean up my dirt because the feral cat colony my neighbor enables ensures my garden will be full of cat sh*t all summer long.
Kelli Cherry February 05, 2013 at 11:21 PM
love this! your last two posts have been spot on with my life :) looking to start a garden this year so could definitely use the tips!
Lindsey Hickman February 06, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Kelli! That makes me so happy! I didn't think I was that abnormal, so I hoped that people would relate to what I have to write! I appreciate the feedback! Good luck on your garden, can't wait to hear about it!! Rick, I can only imagine how frustrating feral cats can be, and again, I'm no expert but I've read that sprinkling cayenne pepper and/or coffee grounds around the edges of the planter area will irritate their noses and keep them out. Also, you can cover a raised planter bed with chicken wire after transplanting the seedlings, the plants will grow through the holes (in most cases, or you can cut the wire for those that aren't) and the cats won't walk on it. Hope that helps!
Cody Kitaura February 06, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Wow, 15K in two days is great! Congrats! Now I need to get out and run a little bit...

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