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.