Ever one to jump right in with both feet (as long as it’s not cold water – I can’t jump in cold water. Nope. Never ever ever.), Hank and I decided that this year, my project would be … the garden.
Y’all. It’s huge.
In the past, we’ve done smaller, raised bed gardens. We worked with the space that we had with good sunlight, which meant that at our first home, we had one small 3×4′ raised bed garden in the side yard with two zucchini plants (and some rogue pumpkins one year), and one 1×4′ raised bed for cucumbers, radishes, and carrots. We had a couple pots of tomatoes, a failing pepper plant, and started a grape vine. Aside from the zucchini and a small daily salad, we ate what little produce we had while we were picking it. :)
In the yard of our second home, Hank built four raised beds that grew tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, and spinach. We had an additional bed for raspberries, a couple apple trees, some new blueberry bushes, and new grapevines. Seeing as we were there for only three years, we didn’t have the chance to really enjoy any of the fruits (they hadn’t really matured in that time), but we did enjoy bigger salads. The garden was beautiful, probably one of my favorite areas of the yard.
When we purchased our current home, our first summer was spent renovating the house and revamping the property. The grounds hadn’t seen care in about a year, so there was A TON of work to do before we could even decide WHERE to put the garden, none-the-less see what condition the ground was in. We took an area that had once been a nine-dog kennel (with runs that extended out quite a ways) and converted that, along with an area that looks like it had once been a flower garden, into an outdoor room and raised bed garden area.
The space was originally so overtaken with weeds that when we started removing chain link fence, privacy fence, and dog runs, we uncovered two ash trees that had been hidden by the weeds. (If you’re curious, here’s a link to the space before we tackled it.) To give a visual reference, here’s what part of this space looked like before.
Do you see the weeds peeking up over the fence? Those were everywhere. Looking at this photo makes me realize why so many people thought we were a little looney when we fell in love with it and its potential.
But back to my story.
Hank spent that first year revamping the space, including building all of these raised beds.
(That’s the Invisible Window World Headquarters – Hank’s company – in the building beyond the garden. Also notice the stove pipe of our Japanese soaking tub aka Redneck Hot Tub? Give the man some space and he’ll fill it with his dreams. And sweat. :) )
Over the last three days, I’ve worked most of that soil (with a year’s worth of goat and rabbit manure, straw, and some composted chicken manure and pine shavings) by pitch forking, hoeing, raking, smoothing, grading, and LOVING EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. I had not one tiny thought in all of my days that I would enjoy gardening. I’m so excited about how this area will transform and thrive (hopefully) and grow over the next several weeks. So far, I’ve planted the following:
- Butternut squash
- Bibb lettuce
- Bell peppers
- Pole beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Borage (soon to be planted)
I’ve fallen into bed the past two nights and barely moved. It’s Gardening Crossfit. Even my Garmin tracker freaked out and sent me a message that said, “INSIGHT! You’re moving more than you typically move on a Monday.” Ha. And yikes.
Last year, we only planted a couple beds. We had a bumper crop of tomatoes, of which Hank canned the majority. We had a ho-hum year of beans and peas, and quickly realized that if we were going to actually depend on our garden to feed us, we had to revamp our thinking and do some planning. I found an interesting and very helpful program online: https://www.growveg.com/; it’s been awesome in helping me understand companion planting, crop rotation, and how many plants to plant in a given space. I was able to make our garden plan in the program (I did buy a two-year subscription), and with that I receive a newsletter that includes when to start seeds indoors, when to plant outdoors, and when to harvest for my area. I also have a plant list, so I know exactly how many of what goes where.
And, of course, I already messed up. After redo-ing the plan about a gazillion times to fit in things for trellises and companion planting with veggies and flowers, I didn’t pay close enough attention to see that I actually needed to start a lot of plants indoors. Woops. To top that off, the space accommodates too many plants to buy transplants, so my first big learning curve has happened. Wah. I started those seeds indoors this week and hopefully haven’t put myself back too badly. Yay brain.
Aw. Look at my cute little cucumber hills.
There were a few that I had planned to buy anyway, so in the ground those went.
And I had two tomato plants started already. I planted 10 more plants inside yesterday.
Strawberries planted last year; yay for that.
And beyond the strawberries are my new raspberry canes. Next year we might see some fruits there.
Inside, I have three flats of seeds started and some rosemary and basil growing in my AeroGarden.
And I have several herbs started (my dill is a little shocked from its recent transplant).
I did get super lucky this week. Monday, during our egg deliveries before school, I spied a tree service doing some pruning work and asked if we could have their mulch.
They said yes! And delivered! Yahoo. Except, more weekend projecting for Hank. ;) (P.S. Hank’s truck is there for scale – and it’s lifted six inches. It’s a huge pile.)
What are you planting this year? Viva les jardins!