I am so excited to be sharing the successes and hopefully not many failures of our gardening this year. Last year we attempted a little garden and unfortunately it was pretty late in the season, June and July to be exact. While it was late going in, we were still able to eat fresh green beans, cucumbers and a few ears of corn and zucchini.
This year, I can't wait to get started. Some new things we are doing this year:
Raised beds. In the fall of last year, I purchased four 1"x 8" x 12' cedar boards. I had the home improvement store cut them into 6' lengths before I left. Then we use sheetrock screws to hold them together and my brother and dad came over to stabilize the corners with some pine blocks. We did not use pressure-treated lumber since I've read about the harmful effects from the chemicals leaching into the soil, and eventually into the produce. So I have two 6' x 6' raised beds. Eventually I'd love to build two more raised beds, but keep them around the 3'-4' depth and maybe make them longer.
Lasagna Gardening. Originally, I had planned to do the Lasagna Gardening Technique in a raised bed. However, as I mentioned before, I jumped-the-gun and tried to layer the garden beds before actually reading the book. I started off layering single sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the beds. Next I topped the newspaper with composted cow manure. Then we layered in peat moss and shredded, mulched leaves (we have an abundance of oak trees on our property which love to drop their leaves and kill our grass so my husband was thrilled to shred and chop up a huge pile of leaves which I used in the beds). I added thick sections of newspaper in the next layer and topped them with some more composted cow manure...then I ran out of compost. The beds are not covered, not composting, and not doing very well. Because I didn't read the book first! Oh well...next year I'll get it right! Most likely I'll have to tear down the beds and start over with top soil and compost to grow anything this year. I'm just not sure yet. We don't own a tiller (hence the reason for the layering technique in the first place!) and it looks like we might need to borrow one or rent one from the home improvement store, if we choose to put this years garden in the ground rather than the raised beds.
Composted Horse Manure. We should not use composted horse manure. I'm saying it now so I don't get a ton of comments telling me how bad it is for the garden. I know, I know, I know...BUT there was a man giving away composted horse manure for FREE!!! So I asked my husband to pick up a truck load. And he did. It's not nearly as composted as I had hoped. I need to cover it with a tarp and get it heating and decomposing so it can do it's thing. Horse manure has a lot of seeds which, if not composted properly, will fill your garden with lots and lots of weeds and grass. Since I have two small garden beds, I really don't think it will be a problem to weed often. It will just be a hassle since I we have 6' x 6' beds. It will be difficult to reach to the middle of the bed without stepping in and disturbing the dirt.
Seeds and Plants. This year we are in the midst of growing tomato seeds indoor. I really loved this tutorial on how to do it. Currently, our seeds have sprouted (except for the FREE Campbell Soup seeds) and I have thinned them out (reduced the number of sprouts to only one per peat pellet).
They are just now putting out their "real" leaves which is a very good sign.
I'm hoping by March 15th, we'll be able to pot these into newspaper pots. We're also planning to plant green beans, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers, parsley and cilantro. We have seeds for green beans, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini and squash. I'll buy the peppers and eggplants in plant-form this year. We can get these for around $3 per plant at any of the local stores. Last year I planted a small parsley plant in a large garden pot and placed it on my back deck. We had fresh parsley all summer into the fall. I mulched it really well and noticed we have some new light green growth coming up from the pot. I'm hoping it will grow again. I've also started parsley and cilantro from seeds and they are doing pretty good, a little slow to start but they are growing well.
Herb and Lettuce Garden. I have what used to be a small flower garden between the back deck and the side of the house. I had a huge New Dawn rose bush climbing over the arbor and it completely took over. After all, it had been in the ground for 8 years without a pruning. A few months ago, I whacked it back and chopped out all the long climbing stems. It looks pretty bald, but I figured if it lives, it will eventually bloom again. And if it dies, well, it will give more light to the ground beneath it for me to plant more things. That area is sort of a micro-climate (where the ground is cooler and not really a true zone 7/8) where I could plant lettuce and it would probably grow all year without burning. We'll have to see. I need to remove some daffodils, tulips, ivy, peonies, iris and a few others. The ground is very fertile and I don't think it will have a problem taking off. I'd like to put the parsley and cilantro in this area to help keep the little varmints from eating our lettuce. That's definitely something to consider...
This is what we're planning to do this year.