Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's NAPTIME. I can answer some questions

Rita asked me to flesh out my gardening snipit on a previous blog. So now I am actually answering the questions that I said I would. (I heart naptime)

Husband and I talked about having a garden for a few years. both of our families had gardens growing up. I definitly remember snapping beans and eating tomatoes right off the vine at my house and helping pick okra and corn at my grandparents house.

nostalgia wasn't the ONLY reason we decided to garden. When our Farmer's Market isn't open our only place to purchase produce is Super Wal-mart (or we can drive 30 minutes to go to Winn-Dixie or Publix OR an hour for Whole Foods). we were spending a lot of money on vegetables that were an okay quality or we were spending even more money on gas and vegatables that were better quality. Plus the idea of growing our own food sounded really appealing.

but we don't have a huge yard and gardens are supposed to be pretty big, right? we don't even have a tiller. how are we going to have a garden?

Then Jennifer recommended _Square Foot Gardening_ by Mel Bartholomew. Husband and I headed to Books-a-Million straight away. We ended up getting the revised addition_All New Square Foot Gardening_. It talked more about "raised beds" which we were interested in because we were worried about poor soil quality and having to 'work' the ground.

This book is really great. I read it cover to cover that night then passed if off to Husband to browse through. Then the next day we sat down and made a list of everything we'd need to buy. basically, what a square foot garden does is compact your garden into a 4 feet X 4 feet square. (we actually decided to put two squares together for ours).

We decided what we wanted to plant based on two things.
1. What vegatables do we eat and buy a lot?
this one was easy. we just thought about what we like to eat and what we wish we ate more often but it's just not in our budget to purchase on a regular basis.
2. What will grow well in our very hot and sometimes dry summers?
this one was a little more difficult, but luckily the book helped us out, again. There are 70 easy to read and understand pages in the book detailing what grows best in what weather and what the growing seasons are for each vegetable. plus we googled a little just for extra information. (did you know it takes 5 years from when asparagus is planted until you actually get asparagus? I didn't. My mother knew. Martha Stewart told her.)

we decided to plant tomatoes (heirloom), green bell pepper, red bell pepper, squash, cucumber, eggplant, onion, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, banana pepper and basil.
our biggest gamble was the spinach. it's not doing well and we probably won't try it again.

our biggest mistake was starting with ALL seeds. that was Husband's idea. I'm not blaming him, but I definitely lobbied for plants at least for tomatoes. alas, Husband won and now we're still waiting on tomatoes to bloom. I think next season we'll mix and match plants and seeds. clearly, we didn't need squash plants, they grew quickly from seeds. But I only say ALL seeds was a mistake because it takes longer to have produce. and I am a tiny bit impatient. (we bought all our seeds at Lowe's)

The spot we chose in our yard is in the fence. it's the flattest part of our slopped yard AND gets a decent amount of shade because of two trees.

When we were shopping of the lumber we compared Marvin's (in our town) and Lowe's (30 minutes away by Publix). Marvin's ended up being about $3 cheaper. note: it's also cheaper to buy the LONGEST piece of lumber avaliable and have them cut it down for you. We also decided not to treat the wood at all (even with something safe for gardening) We figured, hey, we only spent about 20 dollars on all the lumber, if we have to replace it in 5 to 6 years because it's not as strong anymore, we definitely got our money's worth.

we did deviate a little from Mel's book when we DUG the garden. yes. he recommends only using a mixture of peet moss, vermaculite (from our local co-op) and compost (that we got from various gardening stores for variety). but we deviated and decided to dig about 6 inches down and mix our soil in with "Mel's Mix" (we decided this after we started poking around in our dirt and it was really black and FULL of worms)

Also, we have Daughter's wading pools out in the yard to collect rain water. After a big rain we got our there with our empty milk jugs and fill them up with water from the pool. and use rain water to water the garden instead of using the hose pipe.

that's all I can think of, but if all my ramblings spark any questions, feel free. I'm no expert in gardening. I just know what we do in our garden.

you didn't think I'd leave you without any shots of our garden, did you? I just got in from take these. so they're completely current.


Jennifer said...

What are you using for your grids? I used string and I don't love it. It works alright, though.

We put buckets where the water runs off of the carport so that's also a way to save on water.

I agree that mixing plants and seeds is the best way.

I'm going to work on my fall planting list in the car on my upcoming long drive. Expect a post; I'll be waiting for your comments.

I'm glad that someone is as excited about gardening as I am. It's nice to have someone to compare notes with.

christy ross said...

we found untreated lathe at Marvin's (the only lathe we could find before that was treated at Lowe's).

I'm so glad you recommended the book. we were so clueless before that!

Megan said...

Great post...thanks for sharing! All I do right now is container gardening, but I'm definitely interested in doing a "real garden" someday when we could fence it in away from the deer and bunnies. The square foot gardening sounds like a neat approach!

laurensmommy said...

thanks so much for posting this, Christy! You and Jennifer have totally inspired me to plan now to have a garden next year. I am so interested in growing some of our own veggies and I've talked Jason's parents into teaching me about canning.
I think I might go buy this book to help me plan ahead!
*And BTW, your garden looks very professional in the pics!

christy ross said...

Megan, one of the great things about the square foot garden is you can put a plywood bottom on the box and put it anywhere, like a patio or deck.

Sarah, I was able to find a few canning methods just by goggling canning vegetables that seem SO much easier than what I used to what my grandmother do! We plan on canning tomatoes next year when we plant more than two plants.

Rita and Nathan Bird said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I am so greatful for this post and I am getting excited about growing our own veggies.

You're garden looks so professional and it intimidates me a little. :)

Be forewarned, I will probably overload you and Jennifer with questions.

Canning? Wow, never thought about that.

do you make your own baby food?

christy ross said...

Rita, I do and it's so easy. I cooked a whole week's worth of food in about an hour one night a week. the main website I used was wholesomebabyfood.com. Ryland started solids when she was 7 months.

Rita and Nathan Bird said...

I've always said I would make my own baby food, but here Jack is 7 months old and he's still eating Gerber. Blegh!

I plan on experimenting this weekend and am so grateful for the web site. I've heard lots of conflicting opinions on what foods to try out and how to make them so it's great to get info from a source I trust.

bpeterson said...

My husband was for seeds also. Needless to say, we are in the same situation!