Saturday, June 18, 2011

Garden State

The title of this post is both a nod to Nate's favorite movie as well as our latest project....the Garden!  I have vivid childhood memories of spending time with my father and my grandfather planting the vegetable garden in our backyard, eating plum tomatoes straight off the vine, and a cup full of garden onions waiting to be gnawed.  So when we moved into this house and I finally had my own backyard (well, side yard in our case), I knew that I wanted a vegetable garden.  Nate, thanks to his father's insistence on having the perfect yard, did not grow up with a vegetable garden but has always wanted to attempt growing one. So, our vegetable garden project began.
We first needed to prepare the area for where our eventual garden would be located.  Because the majority of our 1/4 acre lot is trees, there was really only one area in which the garden would get some sunlight throughout the day.  That area was located on the side of our house and looked like this before we started:

LOCATION FOR GARDEN
We decided to do a raised garden bed because of its advantages:
  • You can amend the soil more easily (and, as you can see from the above photo, we weren't dealing with great soil conditions to begin with)
  • You can access the plants without compacting the soil (i.e. stepping in between the plants)
  • The garden drains better
We first needed to remove the rock drainage bed that the previous owner had installed (Nate would deal with the drainage later by extending out the downspout with ADS black pipe).  The gravel was about 12" deep and a pain in the bloody arse (insert British accent here) to remove.  Thankfully, Nate took on this project while I tackled another...
ME TACKLING ANOTHER GARDEN RELATED PROJECT (please ignore  my outfit, my hair, and my hat...we all have bad days)

In order to raise the garden, we needed something to act as a "curb" to hold the soil in place.  There are several options...wood, concrete block, stone, etc. We opted to use some granite belgian block that already existed in our yard.
BELGIAN BLOCK "PATIO"= FUTURE GARDEN CURBING
We pulled up all of the "patio" and were left with a pile of blocks.
BELGIAN BLOCKS READY TO BE PLACED

After Nate finished removing the rock drainage bed and transplanting some of the hosta that were in the way, we began digging trenches to set our curbing.  We opted for a 6'x8' garden bed.  This size was appropriate for the space that we had to work with, but is also a nice size for a raised garden bed.  All of the vegetables in a raised garden bed should be accessible from the perimeter of the garden to avoid compaction, so the bed should remain small.
Once the trenches were dug we began setting our blocks on end (Each block was approximately 4"x4"x8").
SETTING OUR CURBING
We used a spade shovel to dig the trenches and then a garden shovel to scrape the sides and the bottom of the trench to get a perfect spot for each block to sit.  The blocks varied in height a bit (ranging from 7"-9") so we worked with each block to get the top of the curbing fairly level.  We set each block by slamming it down, wiggling it around, and forcing it into place with a rubber mallet.  Very technical terms...I know!  It was a great way to get out some aggression as well as a fabulous arm workout!
NATE SHOWING THE BLOCK WHO'S BOSS


CURBING FINISHED AND READY FOR VEGGIES
VIEW FROM GATE WHEN ENTERING BACKYARD
LOOKING BACK TOWARDS FRONT YARD
As you can see in the photograph above on the right, we had an existing raspberry patch that the previous owner had planted.  The patch was a bit unruly and needed to be rearranged.
EXISTING RASPBERRY PATCH
We (and by "we" I mean Nate because I was pretty much over this project at this point) decided to do the same trenching and curbing around the raspberries.  We (and by "we" I mean "we" because Nate wouldn't let me quit that easily) transplanted some of the raspberry plants so they were a bit more organized and compact.
REORGANIZED AND TRENCHED
CURBING SET (Thanks Honey!)
The following day we headed off to Home Depot for some supplies:
  • Miracle Gro garden soil
  • Vegetable starter plants
  • Tomato cages
  • Fencing to prevent the wascally wabbits from eating our veggies

GARDEN SOIL AND VEGGIE PLANTS
Then we planted the vegetable plants (yeah, I know...this is a lot of work for a veggie garden!, we are just now planting the plants!) We opted for the following plants based on our location (Northern Virginia), availability, and what we will eat:
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 2 Jalapenos
  • 1 Habenero plant
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Chive
  • Green Garden Onions (childhood memory, remember?!?!)

*Side Note: We also bought some herbs (basil, mint, rosemary,and thyme) that we planted in containers that are located on our deck.

Nate rented a 2 HP rototiller and worked the Miracle Gro garden soil into the soil that existed in our beds. We sunk the two tomato cages into the two back corners of the bed and planted the rest of the vegetable plants. We kept the tags that came with the veggies and placed them beside each plant.  We also decided to place a large piece of flagstone (also existed on the property already) down the center of each bed for easy access down the middle.  This wasn't necessary as we could access every plant from the perimeter but it  made things slightly easier so we went with it.
JALAPENO TAG

For fencing, we opted for a green (we wanted black but couldn't find it) poly mesh garden fence.  The fencing came in a 40"x30' roll.
GARDEN FENCING
We cut the mesh down the middle for an 20" high fence around each garden.  Nate used some old boards that we had in the garage and cut 30" long stakes to support the fence.  We pounded the stakes into the ground about 6" at each corner of the bed as well as approximately one every 30" around the perimeter of each garden bed.
FENCING PROJECT UNDERWAY
ALMOST DONE!
 We then staple gunned (is that a word?) the garden fencing to the stakes for this end result:
GARDEN FENCING
We planted the vegetables on May 15th and here is what things looked like about two weeks ago:
THINGS ARE GROWING WELL!
TOMATO

GREEN PEPPER

YELLOW SQUASH
And the raspberries looked like this:
RASPBERRY PATCH
And here is what things were looking like this morning:

TOMATO

YELLOW SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI

GREEN PEPPER
And the raspberries look this this:


We have already picked two batches of raspberries this season.  The vegetables aren't here yet but we have a lot of things starting! 

Our herbs in the containers are also doing great and we have been able to use the basil and the mint (yummy Mojitos!).  The thyme and rosemary are flourishing but we just haven't had a chance to use them yet.

So, we started with this:
And went to this:

Not bad...not bad at all.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog!! Love the technical terms :) ...And I want some raspberries!

    ReplyDelete