Friday, December 31, 2010

How We Made Our Garden

I got stuck on figuring out our taxes this evening, something I’m doing along with many a college applicant parent, for the FAFSA for application packages. So . . . here’s a distraction! I’ve meant for some time to go back to our garden’s beginning and post our set up. Basically because I like to read about other people’s setting-up; perhaps I’m not the only one.

We started with an awful shady backyard that the children never played in. Even when they went out to play, they just didn’t go back there. The grass wouldn’t grow, and there were just the hardiest weeds poking up every summer. There was a scraggly rose bed which I could have nutured, but I’m just not a flower gardener! We have a gazebo back there that has been rotting over the years (we’ll tear it out soon) and a few scraggly rhododendrons.


overgrown rose area

Neglected rosebushes sitting on weeds


South lawn

This is at the peak of the lawn lushness – bare through the summer, though.


North lawn

Here is another angle on the lawn. Notice large bare spots!

The soil being so pitiful, plus being very shallow over rocks, made raised beds the logical choice. So with our 2009 tax refund, we bought boards and dirt. Kind of painful to have to buy dirt, isn’t it? But we got a wonderful, organic topsoil/compost mix delivered onto our driveway one lovely day.


Dirt arrival

That’s what 30 cubic yards looks like! Well, almost . . . the driver did another load after that.


Yikes, that's a lot of dirt.

Yikes, what a lot of dirt!


Marking "boxes"

Clara is the girl you want when you want precision! She measured and marked out the boxes sites that I’d mapped, and spray painted on the grass for placement.


Creating a "greenhouse"

We bought a huge roll of plastic and stapled it up in our screenporch, making a big greenhouse for the seedlings I already had going.


mixing bedding

This is how we mixed the dirt – obviously this photo is a little out of order, since there’s a bed planted beyond Clara and The Patriarch there. But we did 2/3 of our topsoil/compost mix and 1/3 peat moss.


tomatoes in "greenhouse"

We just bought cheap shelving boards and set them on buckets in our “greenhouse” which worked fabulously. I also got a small heater off Amazon which I ran on very cold nights which was sufficient to keep the temps no colder than 50º. This was a very nice set-up, but no longer needed as we now have individual hoops over the beds.


A box is planted!

This was the first bed planted; such a happy moment!


tomatoes transplanted

We used red mulch the first year and not the second, but the weather was gorgeous the first and not the second, so I’ve no real comparison on how this worked. It did make it hard to fertilize.


aerial view rosebed

Here is an “after” shot of the old rose bed, of sorts. This was after a first harvest and re-plant, so it wasn’t at a particularly lush point.


aerial west lawn

Here’s an aerial off the screenporch of the same lawn area that Gareth was raking in the “before”. It does look a lot different now, as we have more beds there. I don’t have a current pic and will try to get one this coming garden year.


So that’s how our garden started! And now it’s time to begin our third year of gardening, as it’s seed ordering time. I’m doing the ritual drooling over catalogues and needing time-outs so that I don’t order far too many lovely garden dream-packets.

It was fun to look back on the garden’s beginning on this last day of 2010, when it’s 21º outside and spring seems far away.

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