May 26th: On Tuesday I wasn’t able to work in the yard and do garden prep due to the rain. These weather related setbacks are beginning to stress me out a little bit. I’m really starting to feel the clock ticking and I’m hoping I’ll be able to complete this May goal! In order to plan for our garden, I decided to read a little more from the gardening books I purchased back in April. According to the book, Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet, there are 3 golden rules of growing your own crops: 1) Get to know your plot 2) Decide what you want to grow and 3) Maximize your harvest. I’ve been weighing my options all month now trying to decide the best way to plant our garden. The book suggests the following options: 1) In the soil 2) Raised Beds 3) Containers 4) Creative spaces. My original plan was to plant a garden in large containers, such as water troughs but I decided against that idea in order to reduce costs. After much consideration, I’ve decided to build a raised garden bed. Hopefully I’ll be able to finally begin the project tomorrow!
May 27th: On Wednesday I was finally able to break ground thanks to the tools Laura and Derek let me borrow. Originally I thought I would have to rent a rototiller, which would have been expensive and probably dangerous to use on my own. The handheld tools meant a longer, time-consuming process, but they took care of the job in a few days. There are many benefits to building a garden in a raised bed. 1) You can build them anywhere, including soil-less spaces. 2) Problematic soil? No problem! Build a raised bed and add the perfect soil mix, regardless of whether you live in a location with heavy clay or very light and sandy conditions. 3) Your growing space can be temporary. Whether the space be a public space or rented property, raised beds are ideal. They are cheap, easy to construct and they allow you to quickly start growing. 4) Recycled materials can be used to make raised beds, such as old bricks, scaffolding boards, metal sheets, used tires or even an old wading pool. 5) Raised beds are easier to protect from pests because they are contained areas. Use netting to keep birds away and butterflies from laying eggs. Chicken wire will deter larger pests, such as birds, foxes, deer, or cats, like the neighbor cat that keeps pooping in our flower beds! 6) Building beds 3-4ft across makes it easier to tend crops.
May 28th-31st: There’s nothing like waiting until the last possible minute to meet your goal! Joe and I had to make a second trip back to Lowes to have lumber cut and then we finally built the raised bed. The second step was covering the bed with newspaper. This keeps the weeds from poking through the ground and disrupting the vegetables.
After yet another trip to Lowes for organic garden soil, compost and fertilizer, I was finally able to fill the raised beds. The book Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet suggested filling the raised bed with 45% topsoil, 45% peat-free soil mix, and 10% coarse grit. I decided to go with Laura and Derek’s recommendation instead. Once the soils were mixed, the all-organic planting began! In the weeks ahead, we hope to have more than enough tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, carrots, swiss chard, beets, celery and spinach to share with all of you! At the end of the day, I realized I forgot to plant a couple staple items, such as a variety of onions and garlic, which we use in about every meal we make. DOH! I guess that means I’ll be adding a second and possibly even third raised bed in the space we have left! Stay tuned with updates as our garden grows!