Blog of an aspiring foodie

How does my garden grow

Posted by beer_chris on 16-February-2006

Yikes I can't believe it's been nearly a month since the last update. Scary. The first quarter of the year always seems to fly – I look up and it's March. That really seems to be happening again this year. However, even with time flying by, I am actually adhering to plan on something I want to try to get right this year – a real vegetable garden that might actually yield some edible produce. I tried last year and (1) planted in a shady area, and (2) planted seedlings that were much too small. This made for some tiny tomato plants that never really grew any larger then the weeds around them, if they weren't chomped in two by the curious cat next door.

This year I followed Urban Harvest's guidelines, which they call the 'No Excuses Raised Bed Garden'. Mine is a bit larger then their suggested garden, at 8×8 feet, but fundamentally it follows the same design – 8x8x16 inch cinder blocks topped with wall capper solids (4x8x16). This is super cheap – I think I spent 30 bucks total on the cement blocks. The hardest part was transporting and moving all of those (altogether the weight was about 450 lbs, which I moved twice – once from cart to Toyota, once from Toyota to back yard. Back = sore)

In any event, weekend 1 of this project was spent digging out the sod and leveling the area I chose, which gets a goodly amount of afternoon sun, and then laying all of the blocks out to form the frame. I also sowed all of the seeds on weekend 1 (planning to get everything in the ground in about 3 weeks, when nighttime temperatures are averaging in the upper 50's). Between weekend 1 and weekend 2, I ordered 3 yards (~80 cubic feet) of garden mix from the local soil purveyor to be delivered the following Saturday morning. About 30% more then I would need (8x8x1 is 64 cubic feet), but I needed some room for settling over time.

Weekend 2 was primarily spent moving this dirt from front to back yard. Thank goodness for the invention of the wheelbarrow. Back = sore again. We also took the opportunity to put 3 yards of mulch into various beds around the house, as delivery of 6 yards of material avoided the $30 delivery fee. Dirt is expensive. The 6 yards was $200.

This turned out to be a consuming project, and one of the reasons I didn't even get anywhere near this blog last weekend even though Jaime and I had a stupendous early Valentine's at Pappas Bros Steakhouse – but I digress.

In any case, the garden is ready – and my tomato and okra seedlings are up and well on the way to their first transplant (from the seedling nursery to an actual peat pot – kept indoors and away from that darn cat until they are about the size of the transplants you can buy at the big box stores). I'm planning on 6-8 tomato plants, mostly heirloom beefsteaks, some arugula and lettuce, and a shallot and garlic patch. Those latter roots probably won't be ready for harvest until this winter, but I want to try and get a perpetual garlic and shallot patch going (i.e. plant new bulbs every few months) with a varieties that will tolerate our summer heat of course, so that I can harvest continuously.

The okra will be put in containers. I think I'll take one of the plants to work and see if I can grow it in my window.

So, there's a lot of work and planning into this garden already, and not a single plant is even in the ground. If I can't get some kind of natural bounty out of this thing, I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.

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