5/06/2012

Garden - Pt. 1

Our Garden
It was a busy weekend of yard and garden work done in between rain showers. Luckily most of the rain has been in the evenings or during the night so we've been able to get some things accomplished. I love working outside this time of year with mild temperatures and before the mosquitoes show up. This weekend I managed to get the lawn mown, do some weeding in preparation to laying down mulch, hunt down some cocoa bean shells that we use to mulch the beds next to the house (instead of wood mulch which attracts carpenter ants), and work up the soil in my raised garden bed. 

This is a schematic drawing of our garden layout:

Click to enlarge.
We have three raised vegetable beds, each 4' x 12' long as seen above. My husband and I seem to have very different ideas about gardening methods. We're constantly butting heads. So this year I suggested we each take one of the beds to do with as we want and the third will be shared. That means we'll have only one-third of the head butting we've previously experienced! Brilliant. The mister proceeded to plant something like seven rows of peas with no plan as to what the peas would climb on. Typical. Only one short row of spinach and one of lettuce. Somehow he plans to put beans, cucumbers, peppers and a dozen or so tomatoes in his bed too. Good luck. 

I'm taking a more planned out approach. First of all, we have very sandy soil which means constant watering. I decided to amend my bed with sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite to help retain moisture. I will also be adding sifted compost. Planting will be done using the square foot gardening method, which should allow for a nice variety of plants spaced appropriately. I also plan to take advantage of height, growing pole beans and training tomatoes up on stakes. Since I don't particularly care for canning and freezing produce I prefer having just enough to eat fresh from the garden without being overwhelmed by it. The one thing I really wanted to do was replace the lumber that forms the raised bed. It's getting pretty rotten and starting to fall apart which is letting a lot of grass grow in from underneath. But I needed help with that and couldn't get Mr. N to agree. Hopefully it holds together for one more year. 

The picture above was from a few years ago and looked pretty nice that year. The garden always looks nice early in the season before things get too overgrown. I think I did most of the planting that year, with the exception of the tomatoes. I also use seeds that are new or a year old. My husband will throw whatever he finds in the garden. Last year I caught him tossing in seeds that were eight or nine years old, with the expected result. We didn't have any peas last year. 

The grass that grows between the beds tends to be a problem. The beds used to be a bit further apart which allowed enough room to get the mower in between. The last time the wood started rotting my husband thought we could get by with just having rounded raised beds without anything to contain the soil. That was a big fail, particularly with our sandy soil. So the next year we bought all new lumber and rebuilt the raised beds. Unfortunately when he did that he wasn't thinking about spacing for the mower. The spaces ended up being just an inch or two too narrow. So now we have to use the weed whacker to keep the grass and weeds in control.

One big challenge to our gardening in the last few years has been the increasing population of urban deer. In my next post I'll tell about a few things we're doing to try and combat them this year.

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