Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Garden 2014

This spring I finally planted a garden! 

And not one that was just some plants in a few containers. I planted my seeds and transplants in actual dirt in the backyard!

I had been anxious as ever to get one planted and really wanted to at Tim's old house in the Walnut Woods area but with the hopes of selling it, I never wanted to put in all that work and then leave my harvest behind.

So when we had land that we didn't anticipate leaving in the near future, I made my plans and ordered my seeds. I saved egg cartons and also egg shells for an earth friendly option. I also picked up some seedling starters and some starter mix.

I got many, many sprouts that did fairly well for awhile. I used no fancy lights or any other contraptions, just the containers and the sun. My garden plot wasn't ready for my seedlings to be transplanted right away, though, and many of the seedlings died. I think I'll leave the seed planting to my brother. He and Kerstin grew lots of great pepper and tomato plants this year.

I did have some kale and beets that I transplanted that made it, but the majority died before making it to the ground or didn't take once they got there. That's ok, though. Like I said, I have my green-thumbed brother and also lots of local farmers that offer organic and heirloom varieties at the farmers markets in the spring. All the other things I plant grow just fine from seed in the dirt outside.

I originally planned on building raised beds but because of the location we chose to place our garden, we were not able to put any obstruction in that area. The back 15 feet of our property is easement, or basically, the city gets to tell you what you can and can't do and they also have access to it for city worker needs. So for now it has no border.

The whole family was in town and we made a plan and started chopping out sod. My original plan was one 4x6 foot plot for vegetables and one 4x4 plot for strawberries. As we pulled up sod, we decided to do some more work right then to get more planting space. We ended up with one 6x8 plot and another that's 6x6. We definitely could've gone bigger and probably will next year, but I didn't want to be too overwhelmed my first year with a garden on my own. Plus, we've learned a few things about that space and how water runs through so it's been a good learning year.

Those sod rolls were super heavy! Too heavy for me to carry too many but Kaydin and I took our turn carrying a few together.

These were the two supervisors for the day. No carrying the heavy stuff for them. :)

Once we had all the sod cut out and moved, it was time to lay the dirt. I used a mix of potting soil, manure, and compost, all purchased from Menard's, our local home improvement store. I wish I had a final count of how much we needed but it was far more than we first estimated.

After the dirt settled, I filled it up with seeds and transplants over the next couple weeks. Things are growing pretty well. I spoke too soon when I thought I wouldn't have a rabbit problem with us being in a new development and lots of construction and trucks still present. The day after I took these pictures below the rabbits hit and ate most of my beet tops. I've been combating them with dog hair around the border of the garden, black pepper sprinkled throughout, and marigolds planted around the border, also. Not working 100% but some beets have some back and are growing bigger. A small mesh fence will probably be installed in our near future.

The plants are much bigger now since I took these pictures on May 26th and I've also added mulch to the tomato and pepper area to combat the weeds.

Here's my layout and what we've got growing! Nothing too crazy or complicated but I can't wait for next year to expand and grow more. Tim even keeps encouraging me to dig up more sod to plant more seeds. I think I'll stick with this size for year one to work out the kinks. ;) But next year, I'm taking him up on his offer!

I never did find any ever-bearing strawberries that I wanted (and at the price I wanted to pay) so this little bed is housing chard, beets, and kale this year just to have something in it and nourish the soil.

We harvested our first zucchini last weekend! It was a bug sucker!

And we've got some baby bell peppers on, too, plus lots of tomato blooms! I can't wait to see how much we harvest through the summer and fall. I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Are you growing a garden this year? What are you growing?