It’s crazy how fast the summer gets away from us. We have been plugging away at projects, inside and out, hosting get-togethers and family weekends, celebrating the Fourth of July in “Fourth of July City” (Independence Day is sort of a big deal, here in our little town! 🙂 ) I still get to help with the Youth Group on Wednesday nights, because as Pastor Dan says, “Jesus doesn’t take summer break!” 🙂 and I’m busy helping our little 4-H club create their projects for the upcoming county fair. Those four girls are sewing their hearts out and my sewing machine is humming and happy. And then there are the world’s greatest grandbabies, and dishes and laundry and plans for the upcoming homeschool year…did I file my paperwork, yet? hmmm….. So, needless to say, blogging has been squeezed in all the spaces around the rest of life and I have tons of pictures taken and blog posts “cooking” in my head. I just need to get them all organized and typed up for you. Have you had a wonderful, crazy, hectic summer, too? You’ll have to tell me about it!
I want to update you on my garden progress, today. The last time we talked about everything we are doing in Our Backyard Makeover, I had completed building the fabulous Double Bed Raised-Bed Garden from Greenland Gardener. And if you haven’t entered the giveaway they are sponsoring here at Busy-at-Home, so you can win your own Double Bed Raised-Bed Garden, be sure to pop over to my giveaway post and enter. So, on with the update. I can’t really show you where I’m at, until I show you where I’ve been. As spring progressed, my “garden area” became somewhat more overwhelming. The plethora of plant life coming up was scattered, with no rhyme or reason, and it was so terribly overgrown, I considered giving up before I had even started. But armed with garden gloves, a spade, our tiller and a kind-hearted husband, I dove in to conquer and tame the jungle that was threatening to take over the backyard.
So, we dug in to clear the area and get it ready for a vegetable garden. This took three passes of digging, weeding and tilling over a period of about two weeks, but we finally did make a little headway. The difficult part has been that even after an area has been cleaned, perennial plants that had been previously planted and were not ready to sprout and blossom, yet, suddenly burst into our cleaned areas. It’s amazing how much was planted in there! We also had dill and volunteer tomato plants coming up all over the place. Even though I’m not sure what variety the tomato plants are, I saved the larger ones, since my lovely heirloom tomato plants got a little toasted around the edges, sitting on my deck waiting for the garden to be ready. I saved some dill, too. Man it smells so good!
In between “cleaning” sessions, I built my raised bed garden box. After the garden box was complete, my hardworking hubby made a final pass through our backyard garden and flowerbed areas with the tiller. We had previously dug up, and moved, some of the flowers that had been growing there and I have learned a lot about myself and my “gardening philosophy” in the process of putting this all together. It’s been great fun watching as new things have popped up in the beds, here at our new home, to see what was here and all the color we have. But, I also learned that though I wouldn’t have expected it, I am a slightly more organized and “ducks in a row” kind of gardener. I don’t have to have meticulous, straight rows all in one pattern, but a carefree perennial and wildflower garden, completely mixed into, and often hiding my vegetable garden is not my style either. A very sturdy and invasive ground cover had been planted EVERYWHERE and was threatening to choke and crowd out every other new plant. So there has been a large amount of adjustment, moving and just plain “tilling under” going on, along with the ooohs and aaahs over all the plants I DO want to keep.
So after the initial “clearing”, I was ready to start my vegetable garden in earnest. I had constructed my Greenland Gardener Double Bed Raised Bed Garden Box, purchased the necessary soil to fill it, as well as landscape fabric and garden staples. I was good to go, except that as I previously mentioned, my garden plants that had been waiting on the deck for a place to grow, had gotten a little crunchy. I just hoped for the best and planted them anyway. 🙂
To get the raised bed garden area ready, I used a garden rake to smooth and level it as best I could. Then I cut landscape fabric to fit the area and fastened it down with garden staples. This step helps prevent weeds and unwanted plants from growing through the bottom of your raised bed garden. In my case, it’s a critical step, since we aren’t sure what else may be under there, waiting to sprout in the summer or fall. I am adding a second raised bed garden, so I will be continuing to extend the fabric on down the fence-line in a later post.
Once the landscape fabric was in place, I arranged my garden bed over it and began to fill it with the soil we had purchased. In the past, I have carefully mixed a growing soil using peat moss, compost, topsoil, and vermiculite, getting a perfect, loose and nutritious mix for my plants. But, as late as we were into this planting season, I was more interested in just getting my garden in the ground, this year. I purchased Miracle Grow Garden Soil at our local Wal-Mart and it seems to be working very well. If I have a compost tumbler, by next planting season, I may get more creative with my garden soil. For the time being, I am pleased as punch to have it already prepared for me.
When the boxes were filled and the soil leveled, I planted the volunteer tomatoes we dug up and the “toasted” heirloom tomatoes from the deck. I also toasted a watermelon plant, two cucumber plants and four jalapeno peppers which were promptly planted into the beds. I will be moving the watermelon, when my second garden bed arrives and is set up. After about ten days in the ground, my plants are bouncing back and feeling happy. Believe it or not, they are growing and I think they will thrive, though the harvest will definitely be later than usual. It was too embarrassing to take closeups of their condition on the day I planted them, so the above distant view is it. 🙂 The later pictures show you how well they are coming back. So, believe me, if I can do this, you can, too. Grab a pot or build a raised bed and grow something. Nothing else tastes as good!
Oh, I also added trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers. I like them so much better than tomato cages. They look better and they are just easier to work with, since I can get to both sides. They also save space in the garden, rather than leaving vining plants sprawled across your space, you can grow them vertically and produce even more in your small garden area. When both garden boxes are in, I will also cover the landscape fabric with shredded cedar mulch. It helps keep down the weeds, makes a nice sturdy path for me to walk on in the garden and it just looks good. As an added benefit, some garden pests do not like the smell of cedar. Win, win for me!
Before getting the bed organized and the garden planted, I did pot some plants on our deck, as well. I have a cucumber that I am trying to train along the privacy screen and a sausage tomato, plus some strawberries. These plants were in much earlier and they are going great guns! I am anticipating fresh cucumbers very soon!
There is still much to do. When the second garden box arrives, ( It was actually delivered during the writing of this post!) I will transplant the watermelon, plant a zucchini and what should be a second crop of green beans, though it will only be my first. I long to have an asparagus bed and a corner for herbs, as well. Asparagus will need to wait until fall, but the herbs may still happen this summer. I have a small pot of basil on the deck.
I’ll keep you posted on the next stages of our garden adventure, as I go along, and I’ll be sharing the great deal I found on outdoor furniture, recently. In the meantime, how is your garden doing? Are you reaping the bounty of your labors, yet? What’s your favorite garden recipe?