To sum it all up, this was well worth doing. We had a lot of issues along the way but made a lot of changes as we went. Let me start with the low down of how we did it and what we would do differently.
What We Did:
1. We added a small lattice fence to the front part of the garden (not back because we have a backyard fence) and painted it.
2. We started some plants from seeds in pizza boxes and others we got from a nursery.
3. We made raised garden beds from pine and lined them with newspapers.
4. We filled our first bed with compost from a home improvement store and the rest from our city compost site and then added mulch and plants.
5. We built a fence around our broccoli bed and added a net to keep out pest.
6. We planted new items as we harvested.
What I Would Do Differently:
1. Build a fence around the whole garden even if you have a back yard fence. We found that critters get in no matter what and that you may have to build a floppy fence around each bed. We still have to solve our issue due to cats that jump right over or climb right over all sides which are higher than the normal garden fence.
2. Start all plants from seed early in the year and don’t forget about them. Move them to bigger planters if you don’t have the space ready (like we didn’t) or if the weather is still too rough (like it was for us) or you will have issues with the roots and stunted growth. Starting from seed saves lots of money but remember not to plant so many…we ended up with over 20 broccoli plants and over 10 tomato plants!
3. We used pine because it was cheaper and we were on a budget but cedar is better and we plan to go that once we can afford it. We also nailed in nails instead of using screws which is a no-no but we didn’t have a drill on hand. We lined them with newspapers to block out the weeds and grass and it’s worked sort of… I wish we had just lined the whole area, including walk ways, with the newspaper or better yet with the weed blocker fabric (forgot the name!). We didn’t have the money or time but wish we did because we are noticing that grass is growing up along the insides of the beds. On top of that but weeds and grass are in the walk way and weeding and mowing are a pain this year. Would much prefer mulch in those walking areas and killing the grass with a weed blocker would have made this all much easier.
4. The compost from the home improvement store was a pain! It took several trips with our van and cost so much money! Plus all the lifting…ugh! For way cheaper we were able to have all the rest of the beds filled with one delivery to the house and we still have compost left over. Now we can just compost ourselves to fill in here and there or get it by the bucket full for free at the city or a bag or two at the home improvement store. But for that initial fill…buy in bulk and get it delivered!
5. Really research pest and disease issues with each plant and be prepared. We lost so much broccoli due to cabbage worms and possums. Netting and fencing early on will save your plants and lots of time and money.
6. I lost my original plans for my garden and just winged it. You can do this but if you are wanting your veggie garden to be one that puts food on the table, try planning a bit differently. Session planting will keep something in your garden at all times.
Last year was a really difficult year to garden. We had a late winter and still had snow on the ground in May! Summer Came finally at the end of June and that is when we got things started. But my husband was in Iraq and building went one at a time. And of course, money was tight. Then we got hit with frost out of no where! So there are a lot of things I would have done differently and there are a lot of things that I still want to do and have already started. Here is a list of the mistakes I ended with and the improvements I’m making.
Tips For Improvement
1. I didn’t check the weather daily or weekly and ended up with a lot of spoiled fruit on the last day of harvest due to frost. Next time I’ll have the gear to protect my plants when bad weather sets in for a day or two. This will save your plants and extend your growing season.
2. My vine plants grew all over the place! I wanted a trellis for them and already have one in place for this year! Time to put the others in! This will give you more bed space for planting, save fruit and keep your walking space clear.
3. Floppy fence! I’m adding a floppy fence to my normal fence. This way when critters try to climb it the fence will lean (due to not being able to support their weight) and they will land back to the ground outside of the garden. I’m also filling in spots where they can climb under the fence.
4. I’ve added a grid for my square foot garden so that everything is organized. This saves space and allows for more growing.
5. I’ll be adding more herbs and flowers in my veggie and fruit garden in order to add color and scent to attract butterflies and the such to help aid in pollination and protect against disease and pest.
6. I’ll also be filling in those little between spaces with container gardens and hanging baskets.
7. Cover your garden after harvest! I forgot to do this (and almost forgot to comment on it!) and oh what a mess! Weeds all over the place and cat dug! Covering keeps all this out and keeps the garden warmer so that you can start earlier. Only thing I had managed to do was weed and condition after harvest which went to waste when I didn’t cover. Oh…I also didn’t cover what was left of the compost sent to me and have the same issue.
And let me not forget about my front yard flower bed!
I did not get a last picture of this but let me just say that everything filled in nicely. Here is how I went about this and some of my tips.
Flower Bed Tips:
1. I didn’t build a bed, I had one already built into the front yard/house. I uprooted all plants that were there and just added compost.
2. Since I started this garden so late into the season I got plant transfers. All my flowers came from the clearance rack for 50%-75% off! Yes, they did look like they were dying but once I got them home and planted it took about a week for them to perk back up. Just pinch off the bad leaves and give them some love. These plants lasted longer than the veggie garden (they were more protected under the awning I admit) by a few weeks!
3. Add mulch around your plants to not only keep in moisture and cut down watering but to also keep out the weeds and give the area a professional look. Do this also with other garden areas!
4. While I did let each child have their own flower area to design, I didn’t add any decorations to any of the garden (did add two scare crows to the veggie garden at the end). I say add some stuff into your garden to personalize it. Don’t go over board, which is easy to do when you first start since it looks so bare, remember, those plants are going to fill in that empty space. And don’t forget that you can do this to a veggie garden too. Just because it isn’t a flower garden doesn’t mean that it can’t be just a unique as you are.
5. Add some hanging baskets or container plants and even put in some herbs or edible plants here and there as a surprise.
6. Watch out with attracting bees and wasp near your windows and doors. Use flowers with less scent for such areas. Especially if you have reactions to stings.
I highly suggest reading up on the subject of gardening. You don’t need to buy any books since there is plenty of help right here on the internet! Even if you want something on hand you can find great ideas with a second hand book that will come with a lot of advice and can even find help through your city programs. I even went to neighbors who had gardens and they were more than willing to share. Oh, and so are nurseries!
There are just too many sites and books to suggest and paste up here but you can always find me on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/katrinia17/ or look for Trixy Lemell ) and search my Garden board for tips, websites, books and other ideas (I just got on pinterest so not every bookmark and idea is up yet so come back often!).
Not everyone in the family loved working on this project but everyone did love the end results of fruits, veggies and beauty! I highly recommend starting your own garden and when you do, I hope you enjoy it just as much and even more than we have enjoyed ours.
Hugs and Love-Kat 12 months ago