Building a Vegetable Garden

We moved into our house in July.  Most of the yard was already landscaped, and one of the side yards had been turned into a dog run.

The side yard gets a good amount of sun, and we have a little dog – thus no use for a dog run…so we decided that this area would be our garden.  We thought, “Oh, we’ll just move this bark here.”  In reality, it turned out to be a lot tougher than that.

Note the gate - perfect for keeping puppies out of gardens!

Note the gate - perfect for keeping puppies out of gardens!

We moved the bark, and there was a black tarp underneath.  So we moved the tarp, and there was sand underneath.  FINALLY we moved the sand, but there was hard-as-rock clay beneath that.

Over two weekends we bagged up all the bark and put the sand into bins.  We didn’t throw it away – we posted it for free on craigslist and a few different people picked it up.

We wet down the clay and used a shovel to loosen it up.  We bought a lot of garden soil (we bought most on clearance from Target – this was at the end of summer – for $2/bag).  We mixed this with the clay and made raised beds.

Bins, bags, and a hose, oh my!

Bins, bags, and a hose, oh my!

Those were our winter crop.  Of everything we grew, the chinese cabbage and the broccoli proved the most prolific.  The taste difference between the store-bought chinese cabbage was pretty large.  Home-grown was much more flavorful and very, very tender.  Small differential between home-grown and store-bought broccoli.

Here’s what it looks like now.

Two neat little rows...we kept some of the sand.

Two neat little rows...we kept some of the sand.

The black hose going around we just installed yesterday.  We’re planning on adding an automatic watering system back here to reduce the daily time investment.  We’ve pulled up most of the winter veggies and planted some seedlings out here.  The sugar snap peas seem to have come into their own just now.

Pretty flowers and edible = a winner

Pretty flowers and edible = a winner

The strawberry patch is starting to grow some little strawberries now that the weather is warmer.

Can't wait to eat these!

Can't wait to eat these!

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE:

If you’ve got clay for soil, do yourself a favor and borrow a rototiller from someone.  Breaking up the clay was back-breaking work.  That’s what took us the most time.  Do raised beds so you can have better control over the content of the soil.  Keep in mind how deep the roots will go.  Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all have shallow roots.  Plants such as tomatoes and carrots have roots that go deeper.

INITIAL TIME INVESTMENT: 2 weekends’ worth of labor, less if you don’t have to move bark and tarp and sand.

DAILY TIME INVESTMENT: 5-10 minutes

Tomorrow – an entry on making your own soymilk.

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