Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vegetable Gardening

I've planted several plants/flowers before but never have I grown an actual vegetable garden. This year I really wanted us to use our yard more efficiently and create an urban homestead, minus the farm critters (my yard isn't THAT big!).

Missouri is known for having rocky soil, especially my yard, yikes! So I knew raised beds were going to be the way to go. I went to Lowe's for some cedar. We were making one raised garden bed to start with. The boards were 8 feet long so I had the guy at Lowe's cut each board in half for me to create a 4 foot by 4 foot bed with. The widest one they had was six inches so we decided to make two boxes and stack them on top of each other.

Doesn't everyone do this? Text pics to the husband to ask which one to get? I wanted to know which thickness he thought and of course we went for the thicker one. Lowe's gives discount on imperfect boards and since ours was for outdoors I didn't care if they weren't perfect. I scored mine for $5 off each board. Don't get treated wood or the chemicals will leach into your garden. Cedar is great, though it is expensive compared to many other woods.

Hardware cloth was especially important to us to prevent critters from digging into our garden bed from underground. It is steel. This is the roll that we got and it was enough for one 4' X 4' bed, with enough leftover to maybe do half of a second bed. I didn't measure the leftovers so not exact on that. You can see my already cut boards in my cart, too! Not all Lowe's still do the free cutting but mine did. It wouldn't have mattered because we have a power saw but I wanted one less thing for us to do.

Judah helped me figure out where to put the bed. It was chilly and all of our grass was/is dead. We wanted to pick the sunniest spot as most vegetables need full sun. 

My hubby and I got to work. We used galvanized screws to build the frames and stacked one on top of the other, creating a 12-inch tall bed (easier to see below). We did use these metal connector things in each corner (sorry I don't know the technical name) so the two squares were strongly connected. We nailed the hardware cloth to the bottom (above) and snipped them with my wire cutters. Be careful - that stuff is SHARP once you snip it. 

All of my babies showing off our sturdy and totally awesome garden bed. It's a great size and I hope to get a second one built, maybe this month if we can afford it. Hard to tell here but one board was really not straight and many had edges that were gouged out. We put the ugliest sides down and/or on the interior so you'd never even know we got imperfect boards.

Not long after we built the garden bed my seeds from Baker Creek Seeds arrived (non-GMO, heirloom seeds). Not shown are my strawberry, cucumber and green bean seeds. Obviously we can't do all of this in one small bed. We may branch out and use these cool, colorful plastic planters I saw at Lowe's for individual container gardening.

The next step is to put down layers of cardboard. It helps kill grass and it's great compost material for your garden. Worms love it and worms are great for your garden. On top of the cardboard we will put a mixture of soil and compost.

Other things on my garden To Do:
-Make our own rainwater catcher.
-More containers to plant in.
-Composting area/containment

Funds have been tight around here so I haven't gotten to get the ball rolling as quickly as I'd like on the gardening front, like not having our soil purchased yet (I'm getting it tomorrow, woo hoo). I still don't know what the heck I'm doing but it's a learning process and we've decided to have fun with it instead of stressing or being hard on ourselves if we suck. Hopefully we'll get a decent yield. There's always something new to learn and I hear gardening is addictive. There were already a dozen other seeds I wanted to get but I tried to rein in it and listen to the resounding wisdom of seasoned gardeners: start SMALL. I researched for weeks on what would be easier for us amateurs so I'm hopeful we get some goodies from our garden.

Are you planting anything? How long have you been gardening?

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