Sometime ago I promised myself I would do a garden diary of sorts this year, after I received several requests from friends and a few readers regarding ,”How-To tips”. So I will share a few tips and ideas that have worked for me over the years and feel free to share your tips or ideas also. If you have never had a backyard garden, I can promise you the rewards far out way any negatives, I often joke my garden is my therapy, this should come as no surprise those who know me. 😆
Not since the Victory Gardens of the depression era, has the lil ‘ole backyard veggie garden seen such an unprecedented resurgence in popularity. Now folks are digging having their own backyard gardens for more reasons than just growing healthy, fresh produce, now it can save you big $$$.
We started our garden in 2007 and from the first season we have been amazed at our savings on produce and lets face it stretching the food dollar is a bonus in any economy. Even though my garden is only 96 square feet, my partner and I are able to eat very well from our summer and fall crops as well as freezing certain veggies for the winter months.
The upfront cost depends on the size
Now planning your garden will probably be the hardest part of the process and there are upfront cost but you can reduce the amount you spend by doing some of the work yourself ( i.e., build your own box as I did). Supply cost are a little higher than last year due to more demand for anything garden related. I’ve read several sources that believe the current economy is the driving force for the upswing in gardening. Um, but I think Michelle Obama’s organic vegetable garden at the White House might have a little something to do with the popularity surge but whatever the reasons for us garden growing consumers it’s a win, win situation.
I chose the raised bed variety due to orthopedic limitations that prevented me from tending a traditional garden and also because I have limited space available for a garden. In my opinion, the best advise is do your homework, figure out the most user friendly design for your needs. There are thousands and thousands of resources on the net to help you along but be careful. I found that Colorado State University’s, GardenNotes Series from their Master Gardener Program is an excellent place to start. There you can find more details and designs for raised beds, block plantings, row distance and plant suggestions.
I planted this year’s crop late, the week of March 18th through the 22nd. Here in NC we had several late season freezes so I planted around those events. I started all plants from seed at a cost of about $40 bucks. I used Burbee, Ferry-Morse and saved seeds from last years crop. Below is a list of the garden contents:
- Cucumbers (slender)
- Spring onions
- Swiss Chard
- Romaine Lettuce
- Butter-head mix Lettuce
- Gourmet Blend Lettuce
- Yellow Squash
- Bush Green Beans
- Pink-Eye purple hull Field Peas
- Yellow tomatoes (pair shaped)
- Brussel Sprouts
- PattyPan Squash
Since I didn’t take any pics of the construction phase of my bed, I’ll give you a quick over view of the details. The box is 8 foot wide, 12 foot long and 24 inches high (192 cubic feet).
You will need the following lumber:
- (4) 2x12x12
- (2) 2x12x16 cut in half (8 foot sections) to form the ends of the box
- (1) 4x4x12, cut into (4) three foot sections for the corners. (See pic below)
At this point you just square out where you will place your corners and using post-hole diggers put the corners in place. Once you have done that you simply nail the lumber in place. Look at the above images for the completed box. Once you have the box in place it is time to prepare for the addition of the soil. An aside note: we did not built the traditional sized box which is a recommended size of 4 foot wide. We are able to walk between rows and harvest our crop with no problem.
Next Part 2 Soil recommendations and best Seed/Plant selection