Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 1 in the Garden

Gardening is a skill I much admire and covet.  Every spring I have big dreams of turning my lackluster yard into a beautiful garden.  It has yet to happen, although this year I finally started a vegetable garden.  It's the first time I have tried to grow vegetables.  I'm excited, although I'm trying to keep it in check as my previous gardening experiences have almost all been complete disasters.  I even have trouble keeping houseplants alive.  So having a go at a real vegetable garden is pretty ballsy in my book.

This (mis)adventure started last week.  We had some spare lumber on hand that the boyfriend had picked up.  If you are interested for your own project, I used six 2x6s and two or three 2x2s.  The boards weren't all in the best condition (some warping and dings), so I didn't go to town making sure I had everything perfectly centered or squared.  I cut the 2x6s at 36" for the sides and 80" for the front and back.  Then I cut the 2x2s down to 8" and used them as my anchors.  I hammered the 2x2s into the ground in the corners and then used outdoor screws to attach the 2x6 boards.  I thought I would use a lot more 2x2s, but I just needed one in each corner for the boxes to be stable.  In the end, it looked like this:

Obviously, my raised beds are not really all that raised, and I'll tell you why.  Most places in Austin boast a thin layer of dirt before you hit rock, but we, surprisingly, seem to have very nice soil in our backyard.  And since I'm 88% sure that this entire project is going to turn out to be a disaster, I also didn't want to spend a huge chunk of money on bags of dirt.  Our backyard is completely fenced in and receives very few animal visitors, so in the end I thought a simple 6-inch wall would be protection enough (mostly from the lawn maintenance guys).

My son, who is very excited and active in this project, and I pulled up the grass and the boyfriend came in to help us mix up the native dirt with the some manure and Miracle Grow for vegetable gardens.  I bought mine at Wal-Mart, who seemed to have the best prices of the stores I checked. 

Next came the planting.  I tried to buy items that we eat a lot of, and in the end I bought way too many seeds and bulbs for my planter capacity.  I found this lovely plan online and used it as a rough guide to a family starter garden:

Here's what I planted in the first garden:

And in the second:

As you can tell, I bought plants for the peppers and tomato.  Everything else I'm attempting to grow from seeds.  Since I didn't get started on this entire project until last week, I sowed them straight into the ground instead of starting them inside in starter beds.  I'll probably change that next time, since it's much easier to correctly space plants and then you don't have to worry about thinning them.  But first we'll see if I make it through this season with any success.

I also bought more herbs that I'm going to grow in some containers.  I'll hopefully get that project started this weekend.  Any other newbie farmers out there?  Or old pros with some sage advice?

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