Getting Ready for the 2016 Garden

This winter has been a busy time for me getting a lot of things in place for my 2016 garden. My goals are to grow as much food as possible, be efficient with my space, and apply the lessons I learned last year.

Out Back

In the western part of my yard, back in the fall of 2014, I had built 6 raised beds and I love them. Carrots grew well, sweet potatoes grew well, and the dirt stayed put. It did not erode away with the rains. The mulch between the rows did erode, however, and so I needed to think through a solution on that this year. So,in the eastern part of my back yard, where there is probably three times the space, I saw a lot of erosion. My plants grew fine, so I did not need to build raised beds, but I thought it would be a better option if I wanted to invest the money.

The investment included buying 2 x 12 x 12 boards, getting them cut once into 2 x 12 x 8 and 2 x 12 x 4. Two of these boards would make one 4 x 8 foot raised bed. Some beds I had the space to make them 4 x 12 foot beds. To seal the wood, I bought raw linseed oil off of Amazon and gave them two coats on all sides. I also bought quality decking screws.

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I tilled and hoed the dirt/compost already in my garden to make the beds as even as possible. Some beds were new and I needed some soil and compost to fill them. These beds were more in the center of my yard where there is better sun. I also had built an area in the front of my house for plants and flowers that needed to be filled. So I had 6 yards of soil and 10 yards of compost delivered and began working.

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Below is a current picture of the eastern garden. The three beds to the left are new, as is the fence and main gate. I only have one more 4 x 8 and 4 x 10 bed to build, and I also have room for about five 1 x 6 foot beds at the very back of the garden. I am going to build trellises for these and grow more tomatoes there, and maybe pole beans, followed by fall peas. I am very pleased with how things are going so far!

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To the right of the raised beds are some black berries (and  few raspberries) from last year that should be producing quite well this year, now that they are more established. In between them I plan to build rows for 80 linear feet of strawberries. I have the space for three rows 2 feet wide, with 1.5 feet in between – one 35 feet, one 25 feet, one 20 feet. I ordered a 75 strawberry plant package from Johnny’s Seeds, which contained 25 early summer producing, 25 mid-summer, and 25 late-summer plants. That way we will have strawberries all summer! The downside is we can’t harvest any berries this year. In order to establish the plants, I need to cut off the blossoms so the plants focus only on plant growth. Otherwise, the harvest will be small. After this, I can expect a bountiful harvest for 3-5 years.

Out Front

I love free. A friend of mine had some nice landscaping bricks that he was not going to use and gave them to me. All I had to do was go pick them up! So I built a nice little wall around this large open (formerly useless) area right in front of my house. I used landscaping timber to build the back wall, with some indentations to reach into the area.

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I have enlisted my wife and daughter to do most of the planning on this one. When I first asked my daughter, she had this quizzical look and told me she had never done this before. I told her to just do what I do: Google. We had already decided on the kinds of flowers we wanted and they have been delivered. Find out the recommended spacing for the flowers, when to plant, how tall they grow, what color they will be. Take sticks and poke them in ground to help visualize where flowers will go, and that will help me know how many seeds to start.

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One thing I do want to do out front, though, is to interspersed some vegetables. One idea I was to hide these onion sets along the back. I do have some onion seeds growing, but they are not as far along they need to be, so I bought three packs of these onion sets – two Georgia sweet and one Red. There are probably about 50 plants per pack, and so between out back and the front, I have 150 onions growing! It has been almost two weeks and they seem to be doing fine (as in, they are not dead).

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Throughout the summer and fall I will think of ways to add vegetables. I could seed carrots, create small row covers, whatever.

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