March 6, 2015

Planning for summer gardens

It's the time of year where I'm constantly thinking of all the outdoor projects I want to do once the snow melts. We have at least 3 feet of snow out there but it can't stop me from planning my gardens.

Early Summer 2014

Our First Vegetable Garden

The first couple of years in this house I just grew a few tomatos and beans in barrels, but last year I finally had to have a proper big veggie garden. Luckily my husband was willing to rent a rototiller and he tilled a good size patch of grass up for me. Then I enlisted the kids to help me pull out the clumps and rake bags of compost and manure. Then I was ready to go.
I had a fair bit of success with that garden and I really did get a lot of enjoyment checking it's progress after work and poking around it while the kids played in the backyard. I planted mostly what I thought would be easy to grow and one unusual thing for this area, artichokes. We grew some artichokes from seeds because my kids love steamed artichokes and of course my son saw the seeds at the garden center. Surprise, Surprise the seeds grew into sturdy seedlings and transplanted well into the garden and grew like crazy. The kind of remind me of giant thistles. They're supposed to come up every year so i put a pile of leaves and branches over top of them in the fall and I'm really hoping they will survive the winter.

Early Summer 2014.
Lettuce on left and wildflower on right.

But moving on to this year...

This will be year two for my veggie garden and I'm planning to make a few improvements. Of course I'd love to make it bigger, but that would mean moving a fence or chopping down trees and renting the rototiller again. But I'm going to resist the urge to do all those things and plant the garden more intensely.

How to improve the vegetable garden:

1) This year I'm going to hand dig the garden right up to the edge of the fence so that I can use it as a trelles for cucumbers and zuchinni. This will save space as the vines on the ground take up a lot of room and also it should reduce the number of bugs that the vegetables are exposed to.

2) One of the bean seed types I bought were pole beans. Not runner beans though, because I grew those last years and of course the red flowers looked gorgeous, but boy oh boy did we all have nasty tummy cramps after I had steamed them for dinner one night. I did save some seeds from the last garden but I think I'll plant them at the front of the house as flowers. The pole beans should also save some space.

3)This year I'm planning on using my own compost/manure, which should save a few dollars. Now that I have the chickens, I've been saving all the coop cleanings and dumping them in a pile to add to the garden. There's bits of veggies scraps too in there.

4) I'm planning to 'no till'. I was watching a video on the internet about not tilling gardens and it really made sense to me that tilling is not great for your soil. Tilling destroys all the little tunnels that the worms made, hurts the worms and if you don't till, your organic matter in the soil is supposed to really build up over time. So I'm planning on putting on the compost, raking it in and planting.

5) I've also scaveged two wooden pallets that I'm planning to plant strawberries in and lean them up against a sunroom wall, where of course we get a lot of sun.

6) I planted quite a few wild raspberry canes with two of my garden center raspberry plants, so I'm hoping that I will get more raspberrys this year.

Now if I can only figure out where to put blueberries. I'm not sure how I can keep up the right pH for blueberries without having to buy additives to mix in the soil. I feel like if I have to buy bags of addittives every year that it just isn't natural and is costly.