Garden Upgrade

One reason I love gardening is repeat opportunities for improvement, learning, and tweaking. As each season passes, you learn what worked and what didn’t, and right away you can implement these lessons. I don’t put much pressure on myself to get it right the first time (or second, or third…).

Last year we gardened in two small plots. Since most of our yard is treed, we used a small plot in a semi-shady area to grow lettuces and potatoes. We’re doing the same thing this year; we’ve put forth a little more effort using the no-dig method (aka “lasagna gardening”). Our small full-sun area is precious, so we must save room for crops that necessitate full sun. Last year the sunny area consisted of a circular bed where we Matt removed Bermuda grass. Lots of space was taken up (and taken over) by the ground cherries. And I mostly unsuccessfully grew tomatoes in an assortment of pots. I had good luck with potted herbs.

Inspired by Nicole and Christa’s successful no-dig garden, I thought to give it a try this spring. No more digging up Bermuda!? Matt was pleased. So we added a raised bed in the full-sun area and we’ll continue to make incremental improvements, in both technique and set-up. I’ve found that if I approach gardening as a process, a recurring cycle, I’m more relaxed about it. The merry-go-round keeps spinning, you can jump off and get back on once you learn to balance and/or not drink a chocolate milkshake before riding.

We followed these instructions, which worked great with one exception: the 1/2-inch screws for attaching the galvanized brackets are too short, so we used 1-inch screws instead.

Supplies came to about $200. We got free compost from a friendly acquaintance. We may have been able to save more money by acquiring materials from the Building Materials Reuse Association, which I just learned about today.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just an initial investment—the following season’s gardens will be cheaper, until we decide to expand.

building the raised bed
Matt is putting together the frame. He loves this sort of work.
building the raised bed
Chelsey and Matt are installing the fittings for the hoops.
making the lasagna
And we start making the lasagna: hardware mesh to keep out the moles and newspaper to smother the grass.
free compost!
Thank goodness for front-end loaders. Getting free compost by the truckload was a huge help. Thanks, Bob!
making the lasagna
On top of the newspaper, we sprinkled bone meal, blood meal, and hay. Then we laid the soaker hose and piled on the compost.
raised bed
Ta da! Our awesome raised bed (4’x24′) complete with hoops for bird netting or row covers.
DIY seed tape
Using DIY seed tape, I sowed lettuce seeds in the shady plot. It made me realize just how much easier it is to work with a raised bed.
This particular type, Forellenschuss, comes from Seed Savers Exchange and sounds very promising since it stands up well to heat.

lettuce bed
I converted the desk to a seed-starting station.
Bushy cucumber seedling. That’s basil in the background. These will go in the raised bed at the end of this month.

Check out this article on the monetary value of one family’s garden.

8 thoughts on “Garden Upgrade

  1. Man, this really rocks! When you do something, you go all the way. 🙂 Christa and I learned of a neat, easily-transported method for hoop-covers. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.

    I’d like to know how well the soaker hoses do beneath the soil.

    Awesome plant markers!

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