Monday, October 1, 2012

My Produce Garden...

My garden is a work in progress. I knew that I liked this house when we looked at it but I had no Idea just how much work the property needed to have healthy, fertile soil that could grow all of the things I had been dreaming of for so many years. We ( or should I say "I" because Hubby is not that interested in the yard) pretty much started with a dull blank slate that had a lot of old unattractive plants that needed to go. And go they did. We pretty much spent the whole summer last year pulling out large ornamental hedges that were dying, and pulling up black plastic that was used under crummy bark mulch as a weed barrier. Keep in mind that I was pregnant with baby R at the time and had no energy. 

 Here is a picture of part of our back yard where I grew my veggies last summer. I knew I wanted to grow more than this but I needed to watch the yard for a year to decide where I wanted to build our garden. This bed was here along the fence and there is actually a very large pine tree growing back there in the left corner. I was concerned about sun and shade because of the tree but as you can see most stuff grew very well. So in the fall I had Hubby build me these garden boxes.

As always we had to build our garden on a very tight budget. I had a hard time figuring out what to build them out of. I knew I didn't want treated lumber because of the chemicals that leech into your soil but I also didn't want them to rot. At the suggestion of my dad I looked into cedar fence boards. They were 5 foot boards and they were around a dollar each. The nice thing is that cedar rots very slowly. Some sources say that it takes 20 years or more, and I believe it because that fence back there is cedar and I know it has been there for more that that. We used stakes to screw the boards too and support it from the inside, which you can see. We built them 4x5 feet and two boards high (making them almost 12 inches tall). We did spend the big bucks on good quality outdoor screws.

Lets talk dirt. We built the beds in the fall and I thought about dirt all winter. I thought we were going to have to buy dirt which I didn't want to do. I did some reading and learned about sheet composting or lasagna gardening. I decided I could do this to basically build my dirt from scratch. Lucky for me I had collected and kept all of our fall leaves along with a neighbors and after I was healed from having baby R, I went to Starbucks and collected coffee grounds at least once a week. Then when I could I layered cardboard or newspaper, coffee grounds and leaves just like you would in a lasagna. From what I had read it said you could plant right in it but it would be composted dirt within six months. I also had some compost that I had made from the previous summer that I added to the mix.

In the end we did buy two yards of organic compost from my favorite garden nursery. I topped the beds with six inches of the black gold and also topped off the long bed by the fence ( it went in some of my flower beds too). The compost went a long way and it was super worth it to buy it. I would spend money on compost any day, it is so good for your soil and your plants. So all in all we spent about 60 dollars on the wood and 120 dollars which included the delivery of the compost. It was a pretty good deal if you ask me.

This is what the garden looked like when I got back from my parents house in July. it was out-a-control. I love the tall triangular trellises that I got at the garden expo. They add a lot of character, functionality and visual interest to our garden. You can see the chicken coop in the background.

I planted a lot but as always wish I could plant more. I have plans to add about three more planting areas/garden boxes back there. Over by the chicken coop there is a lot of unused space that needs a little love and TLC.

I think after two seasons I have a better idea of what we eat and what works for our family. I planted 9 tomatoes and have learned not to get seduced by all of the fancy heirloom varieties. I love regular red tomatoes so the plan next year is to get pretty much that. We eat them and I can preserve them. Also I think I am giving up on carrots because even the organic ones at the store are really cheap, I just waste the precious space growing them cause they don't grow well for me in our beds. The list goes on and on.
I am planning on showing more of our yard and gardens as well as how they look next year when some of them should be nearly complete.

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