Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My low cost garden: How I take a break from writing

While I love my flower garden, I like to grow vegetables too. However, I haven't been able to do that for the past couple years. I've missed the daily excuse to get outside and get more dirt under my oh-so-lady-like nails.

The flower section of my old garden, complete with a pear tree, but minus a partridge.
For years at our previous house, we had a large garden, fenced in, with strawberries and raspberries, grapevines and plenty of room for anything I had the urge to grow. Over the years the kids helped plant seeds. We chased untold numbers of rabbits out of the fencing. Squirrels and raccoons leaped down from trees to rip up my corn and decorate the branches above with the stalks after they were done with their stolen feasts. We composted for years, slowly turning the sandy dirt into a nice dark and fertile soil.

And then came building a house. No time to garden, no sir. We barely had time to eat or sleep, for goodness sake. Ignored, our beautiful garden was quickly overtaken by weeds and eagerly expanding raspberries. Then we moved. I'm sure you know how much fun that is and how long it takes to settle in. Egads!

To supplement our fresh veggie intake during all this, I joined a local farm CSA program. If you have one nearby and don't have the time, space or inclination to have a garden of your own, I highly recommend it. We learned to like all sorts of things that I wouldn't have otherwise considered trying from the grocery store or planting myself.

Now, finally, in our third summer in the new house, I had time to make a garden. It's not that we don't have space. There's plenty of that, but where to put it? The majority of our land is low, meaning it gets wet fast and floods in heavy rain. It's also mostly shaded. The back of the house is much higher and in full sun, but filled with dune grass and beach sand, because nothing says contrast like our yard.

So much dune grass...
The full sun won. I rototilled the dune grass. Three passes to get it good and chopped up.Then I covered it with landscaping fabric and lined the edges with rocks. You'd be surprised how fast dune grass grows. I ran out of time for the weekend at that point. So it sat that there for a few days until free time and weather allowed me to get back out there. You'd think that all of my efforts would deter the grass a little, wouldn't you? Ha! It was already starting to sprout up through the fabric!

So I pulled all the fabric back and lined the area with layers of newspaper. With the fabric back in place overtop and the addition of four inches of cedar mulch. I thought I was in good shape.

What's in the pot? Raspberries. I learned my lesson with those. Contain them!

Time to build boxes. We had a lot of random lumber left over from building the house and deck. I didn't want to spend anything if I didn't have to, so while my boxes aren't pretty, other that one box of screws (because I ran out of my leftovers), they didn't cost a thing.

We're also working on a landscaping project in the front of the house and happened to have a delivery of dirt come in for that. I took what I needed to fill my boxes with good dark composted soil and lined those with newspaper too for and extra deterrent.

The one thing I did splurge on was a pre-packaged drip irrigation system from Lowes. I did put this garden out in the full sun right up next to the house for goodness sake. The least I could do was to give it a fighting chance. So a $60 drip irrigation system went in. It was super easy to do and maybe took an hour so two.

If you're wondering what the deal is with the random corner blocks, I left most of them how I found them so that I could add fencing or drape row covers over the plants if rabbits or deer became a problem. So far, thankfully, they haven't.

Next, I ran to the tractor supply store down the street and grabbed up a bunch of seeds while they were on sale and picked up a few tomato plants while I was at it. Though the last frost was still looming, I just wanted this project done so I planted half a packet of everything. Good to have that other half to fall back on if something fails.

You can tell how often the kids use that trampoline. The dogs like the shade it provides though.

Now, two months later, the flowers are starting to bloom ( some, because they're edible and marigolds to keep the rabbits away), and everything is looking lovely. We enjoyed our first zucchini with dinner last night and have been enjoying fresh spinach and lettuce for a couple weeks.

It takes me five minutes every other day to keep it all weed free. And dune grass free, because yeah, all my efforts did was slow that down a little. That's persistent stuff! But it gives me an excuse to get some sunshine. Those randomly long posts at the corners make good handholds when bending over, woo exercise!

Now I'm going to go clean the dirt from my fingernails yet again and think about what project I'm going to work on next.


  1. I could never maintain a garden. Not the outdoor type.

  2. We've been in a house for five years and I just can't be bothered to start a garden. I don't have anything against it, I just know I don't have the time for it. My wife insisted she wanted one and would take care of it herself, but last year I mowed over half of it and planted it with grass seed. *shhh* I don't think she's noticed yet.

    1. Ha! Gardening does definitely take time. I will say after all those years of a big ground garden, the raised boxes are the way to go. So much easier on the back and the smaller areas, make far less daunting to keep free of weeds. Plus, not stepping on the soil keeps it nice and loose for the plants.

      Here's to hoping she's secretly happy for the smaller garden space.


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