On a previous blog post, i touched lightly on my veggie garden adventures. There is so much to learn & do at times it can be overwhelming but i found that after being immobile for so long, my brain longed for the challenge.
Some things i learned:
- Planning should start in January (research, planning, buying seeds)
- Garden gloves are great to protect against cedar
- Spreadsheets are really great for organization
- Talking with friends about gardens helps generate ideas
- Many hands make light work, mostly
- Gardeners have their own lingo: Biodynamic, Hardening Off, Compost Tea, Cold Box, etc
- Wanting an artsy garden is totally ok and don't let anyone tell you it only has to be functional
- you can grow A LOT in a small area (goodbye rows, hello sq ft garden)
i started off my adventure by picking up a book (All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew) and contacting my sister-in-law Kari who has grown successfully in the area for a few years now. i brought my legal pad to our tea get together, ready to gleam some of her wisdom. i knew i needed to start with a list of things my family eats on a consistant basis and filter out things that might be difficult to grow for a first timer.
i should note that i am not really a first timer as my parents owned greenhouses when i was 7-8 years old. We also had gardens when i was a little older but i haven't had a vegetable garden in years. So in a way, i am starting from scratch.
We talked about the beds, the soil, composting, and what grows relatively well in this drought climate. After our chat, she sent me a ton of resources for this area including all the local farmers markets. i went home and created the art of Gardening pinterest board to further collect ideas. The visual organization really spurred me on to keep on planning and honing in on what i wanted my garden to be.
i also called my friend Jessi to ask her about her garden, to chat through my ideas, and to help me solidify my plans. Talking to these two gals proved to be invaluable to me. Jessi really gets my needs to for it to be "pretty" as well as functional. Kari really wants me to be successful and encourages me in so many ways. After much thought, i decided i wanted to start with 5 raised beds for my "square foot" veggie garden. i also decided that i was going to turn this side yard into a cottage/veggie garden area, implementing it in phases. i walked the yard & sketched the area with my plan so i could really visualize the area coming to life. It can still change but i have a basic plan. i asked my father-in-law Phil to build these raised beds i found on Sunset. Their plans were very concise and sturdy. We decided to use Cedar wood for the beds for their sturdiness & longevity. However i will say that gloves are a must for i cannot tell you how many splinters i have because of the wood! i decided to make the beds 3 ft x 6 ft since i am short and my reach isn't very long for the "normal" 4 ft beds.
Phil & i staked off the area i wanted to the raised beds to go. It is another great way for me to visualize my garden area coming to life and the perfect time to change my mind. The boys & i removed the grass from the area while Phil built the boxes. Once we figured out that a hoe was the best way to break up the roots, the grass came up fairly easily. Digging the holes and leveling the beds took some work but we knew it would be better in the long run if we took the time for this. Jacob & Anthony were amazing and worked really, really hard.
and then came the soil.
and many wheelbarrow trips.
and sore muscles.
but the beds looked so pretty filled with the soil.
Now that the beds were now in place, i really had to work hard on narrowing down the types of plants, the variety of plants, & how many i needed. With all that i had to learn their growing season, whether to start from seeds or transplants, watering, plant care, etc. This is where that Square Foot Gardening book really came in handy with a detailed plant index in the back of the book. i decided early on to make it an organic garden so i hunted for organic seeds & transplants. Local farmer's Markets were the key for me and i found some amazing plants.
What i didn't find in my search was a good plant profile sheet to keep track of what i wanted to grow. So i created one for myself and tailored it to my needs. i have ideas on how i am going to track my veggie garden progress & mistakes. i will share all those ideas with you soon!