The expansion of the garden has begun and my first two market days were a great success.
On the first market day, July 9th, I only had 8, 1 quart, bags filled with butter crunch lettuce. They flew off my table at $2 a bag. Selling out in less than 30 minutes was surreal. It validated everything I have been working for for the past 6 months since I started this journey. Through all the ups and downs, hard work, and personal changes, this showed me that I'm on the right track and that making money at this is definitely possible. It was complete validation and I came home with even more fire and desire to accomplish my goals with the garden.
Because I haven't expanded yet, I wasn't able to make it to the second week of the market. My lettuce hadn't recovered yet from the cut I did on the 8th so I had to skip the market on the 16th. I came back strong on the 23rd though. I brought 11 bags of butter crunch lettuce, 5 bundles of baby scarlet nantes carrots, and 7 yellow squash. Titus came along with me and he actually made the first sale of the day with 2 yellow squash right off the bat. We ended up selling out in about an hour. I was surprised but I shouldn't have been. Everyone coming to the market is super friendly and excited to have fresh produce. They all seem excited to have a local grower bringing vegetables to the market from a backyard similar to theirs. Also, nearly everyone that passes the booth either chuckles at the name Nuke City Veg or has to ask what the name means. Its a great way to start the conversation to make the sale. I just thought that the name was clever and funny but its actually a great selling point, which was completely accidental. I'm excited for many more market days between now and October 1st.
After the success at the market July 9th, I came home and immediately got to work cutting up the sod with my little cultivator, excited to expand what I already had. I should have waited though. By the afternoon, I went and rented a sod cutter from a local equipment rental. Because I had used the cultivator on the grass already, this made using the sod cutter on the grass more difficult because of the lines cut into the grass. I had to follow the path of the cuts I had already made in the grass. Also, I'm not a big guy and the sod cutter basically took me where it wanted to go. I got it done and it was alot easier than using my little cultivator but it was hard work and I was exhausted by the end of it.
The next step was pulling the grass off the backyard. I let the grass sit for a day or 2 to let it die. I don't have a wheelbarrow so I had to collect the grass into a large trash can and haul it out into the alley to dump. This was an amazing workout though I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. By the end of it my arms and back were so sore I could barely move. Looking at the end result It was totally worth it though.
During this time I began looking for a larger walk behind tiller on craigslist. I knew that my little cultivator would take forever to break up the dirt and I need something bigger. I found a 17" walk behind tiller on craigslist for $600. I brought it home and started tilling. The tiller is awesome. I was able to till the entire backyard in just a few hours. It plows through the dirt in a way that the cultivator can only dream of doing.
After running the tiller over the backyard, I raked up all the residual rhizomes from the crab grass into piles and removed it all to the alley using the trash can once again and let the backyard sit again for a few days. I then raked the back yard again. Last night I got a good amount of rain on the backyard and I'm getting ready to hit the backyard with the tiller again.
Once I have tilled again, I will rake and then see how well the little pieces of grass were removed. If I'm happy with the result I'll begin forming the beds using the tiller, if not I'll till the entire backyard again. Its a process but I know it will pay off and lead to more and more produce for me to bring to market in the near future.