Starting a Garden

Growing up, the only “gardening” I remember doing was raking the pine needles. I do remember my mom having a pot of cherry tomatoes on our patio when I was in elementary school, but that was the extent of our garden. Sometime after I started doing the adulting thing, I decided I wanted a garden. My memory is fuzzy on exactly when I started buying seed packets to put in the ground, but I know for sure I did it when the girls were little.

It has only been recently that I have taken a serious interest in planting a garden that we can actually harvest food from and eat on a regular basis. (No, we are not there yet, but I am trying!) I started with multiple raised beds around the house after we moved in. Two years later, I ripped all of the wood out, leveled the ground the best I could and started over. After spending a few years pinning ideas, I was ready to start building new raised beds.

Why raised beds? We had our soil tested when we built our house and it is all clay. When it rains, it turns into a black, sticky mess and when it is dry, there are cracks the size of your foot that go scary deep! The consensus on raised beds seems to be that they are just overall easier to take care of.

Wood frames I was lucky that at work, we were getting rid of some old wood so I brought it home. It might or might not be treated wood…but it is pretty old so if it is treated, I’m hoping any chemicals have leached out of it already. Hubby and I were at the orange box store one evening and they had a whole pallet of pine wood that was all moldy. I asked the guy if there was a discount for it. He told me yes, and we got several 2x8x16 for a couple bucks! SCORE!

I had no real plan for building the boxes. I would just randomly go out and put some together. The ground was NOT level at all. I was not about to “dig out” and make it level, so instead I leveled it as I went along. I framed a 2×4 box of the size bed I wanted.

I hammered in stakes on the inside corners. Using a level, I would raise the box up until it leveled out, then screwed it into the corner stake. I did this on all four sides. To keep the stakes from sinking in further, and keep the 2×4 base level, I filled in bottom with pieces of pallet wood.

If I were smart, I would have built the center beds AND then filled them before building the outer beds. I did not think about the amount of dirt I would have to bring in to fill the beds. yikes! (The chickens enjoyed the different stuff I brought to fill the beds…like mulch, garden soil, compost…)

Once the frames were complete and some of the beds were filled, I put a fence around the whole thing. Mainly to keep any animals out, including the dogs and chickens.

We also added some cattle panels along some of the beds. You can see how we designed the beds around the septic tank in the ground with the walkway centering the big green caps so we still have access to pump the tank.

Next up…an irrigation system…coming soon…

Tree sale and firewood

We braved the craziness of our local Master Gardener tree sale this weekend.  We were not prepared last year…the advertisements said come early to get the best selection. So we showed up at 8:45 (doors open at 9am) and o.m.g.  The line was wrapped around into the parking lot!  It was like a black Friday sale!  In preparation, we arrived at 8:15am and we were not the first in line.  (This is looking to the back of the line about 10 minutes before it opened up.)

Once we got in, it was a mad dash to make sure we got a Meyer Lemon tree this year!  Our county has citrus restrictions due to a disease that is running rampant, so we cannot transport any out of the county.  The master gardener sale has great quality trees!

We picked up another of each (that we bought last year)- lime, lemon, fig, pear, peach, and some more blackberries.

While we were at the tree sale, Wade had some friends over and they cut up firewood.  (Yes…wonderful friends to come over and do manual labor for some beer!)

And then we burned wood scraps (not freshly cut wood…it needs to cure about a year before it is good for burning).


The Weeds Take Over

The weeds have officially taken over.  Who knew that when you tilled weeds, it is like giving them a reason to multiply???  Yes, I did not know that if you chop them up into little pieces, they just make more baby weeds…that grow into monster weeds and take over.  Like this:

So I spent the entire day pulling weeds from the garden. I had to carefully remove the plants that had already been placed in the garden and they went in a bucket of water.

To prevent weeds from happening again (at least as much as possible), I put down weed block. DUH! I am not sure why I did not think of that sooner, but after 16 years, I am getting smarter about those kind of things.

The garden adventure continues

Since my new found love is Pinterest, I am THRILLED that there is a gardening section on there.  I have gotten so many good ideas for improving the black thumb I have.

And btw…if the weeds in your garden are any indication of how much you have sinned, then forgive me Lord because I sinned A LOT last year.

I decided not to grow louffa this year since it just takes over the back of the garage. If the world comes to an end and we have to survive on what we can grow…I KNOW I can grow louffa to eat! Instead we are going to try chayote (a green Mexican squash that is supposed to be easy to grow) and cucumbers in this area, along with onions like I did last year.

We finally invested in a “tiller” that attaches to the weed-eater motor.  Let me just say…this is NOT the easiest thing in the world to use since you have to hold it and till.  I took the tiller to the weeks and it worked pretty well.  I did have to stop and untangle the AWFUL Bermuda grass that would get wound up in the blades.  Every once in a while I would take a break from tilling to work on the garden project I found on Pinterest.  Basically it involved building an a-frame and attaching PVC pipes to it to grow stuff.

The a-frame kicked my butt since I did not want a 45 degree angle.  In the end, I did a 20 degree angle, but started in the middle so the cut was not as sharp. (I had to use a circle saw for the cut.)

I used a metal plate on one side and a 6″ x 6″ block on the other side to attach the two pieces together.

Next came the PVC pipe. I bought 10′ drainage pipes with holes in the bottom. I did not want root rot from the soil, so I thought this would allow the dirt to breath a little and drain. I cut those in 1/2 so they were roughly 5′ long.


I made a 2″ hole every 8″ for the plants, using a doorknob drill.

I permanently glued on 1 end, so that the dirt can be emptied and refilled. Painters tape covered the holes so that I could fill the pipes and I tapped the pipes every few scoops since I wanted as little settling as possible.

The girls helped get our starters into the new pipes.

This is the finished product. We have the lettuce and other small plants off the ground and room for viney stuff underneath (yellow squash). I planted radishes in the front and will also plant a row of carrots as well.

Wade’s plan is to build an irrigation system for the garden! That would help so much!!!

The Growing Garden

So far, this has been my best year when it comes to the garden.  I still have it under control (sorta) and we are actually able to eat what is being produced!

I am a little disappointed in my tomato purchases from Home Depot.  They have not gotten very big.  (The ones I started from seeds are doing great!)

Here is the garden now.

We have mini pumpkins growing (I did not think they would grow…but they are doing the best!).

Huge sunflowers.

Cauliflower (an experiment).

Even some leftover morning glories from a couple years ago (darn things! I keep picking them and they just grow right back!)

Carrots (although Daisy has rearranged the carrots so this is a very small patch compared to what we planted…the rest never grew).

Not in the garden, but on the back of the garage, our luffa is starting to grow.

And under that we have onions…1015s! I am most excited about those! I love onions. And they seem to be doing the best of anything!