Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden Delights

My garden life typifies the battle between flesh and spirit. Late winter and early spring I think about how I need to plan out my garden, I marvel when I hear that people planted lettuce and onions in March, and I am certain! to have the beautiful, blossoming, tamed wilderness in my own backyard. Then July hits. I wither in the heat. I crawl into my basement and dream of dewey, windy, blustery and beautiful Oregon Coast.

Now? It's June and unseasonably wet and cold. Everyone's complaining but I'm still in my honeymoon phase of gardening. The excitement began back in April when I found some recycled composite raised garden beds. No deteriorating! No staining! I was sold! The Mister of the House brought home 6 boxes (essentially twelve 3.5X3.5 foot squares), and I was left to configure them on the lawn. I pored over these suggestions of stacking and staggering the boxes.

I officially purchased 12 squares, but I longed to have a stacked look. By redirecting the middle support beam OUT instead of IN on the bottom row, we were able to butterfly 4 boxes out from the main line. Does that even make sense? By pulling out the support centers (with the exception of the row 2) I was able to have 11 squares intact for planting, and still keep the easy to reach and mighty-perty stacked center.

Boxes 3 and 4 we planted perennial crops asparagus and strawberries. Because they are proficient spreaders, we put them in the box that is enclosed on all sides. For asparagus, you dig down 8 inches and then plant. As they shoot through the dirt, you pile more dirt on them. Look how they have already taken off (box 3)! It will be two more years until we start harvesting them. Be excited!

We tilled up the grass, put down weed barrier, and halfway enclosed the garden with 6 cedar posts. The posts are 8 feet apart and in the middle are some newly planted grapevines. These vines will be trained along the wires at 2 and 4 feet, and include table grapes and raisin grapes, all seedless. In the above pic you will see the fake owl that is supposed to scare the birds away from my garden. Not quite sure if it is really working yet.

This butterflied box is on the east side, so in the afternoon it is a little shaded by the middle stack. I planted lettuce there because it prefers colder temps, and I knew it wouldn't mind. It was just yesterday that I had my FIRST salad cut fresh from the garden. Delish!

Here is a picture showing the full configuration. 5 rows long with 4 butterflies, and a regular 2 square at the edge. Filled with compost, peat moss, vermiculite and poop...we're ready to roll!

From June2010

So I have to admit, I was pushing for the raised beds because A)my buff neighbor Katrina grows a killer garden and has them ....and B) I have been LooooOoving this book "The Backyard Homestead" and it talks about how great raised beds are to have warm dirt in the spring, plant things closer and utilize space, and keep weeds out. The full title of the book is "The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre". Here's a snippet.

Another tip I got from this book was a teepee trellis for vining crops. So when I found some 10 foot tree limbs in the canyon, I brought them home and made this makeshift play-place for the kids. Here is our teepee that we planted pole beans and melons around the base.

I am totally a novice gardener. It was just yesterday I found out that if you grow melons and squash next to each other, they become cross-dressing transvestites. By that I mean you will have a disgusting pumpkin flavored watermelon. No thanks! So we just transplanted squash (i.e. pumpkins) away from the melons and we'll see if we get any crop from these heat-loving crops that need 100+ days to mature. Yikes!

The pole beans are already starting to do their work.

In the main old-fashioned garden bed we are planting potatoes and corn. Since we have animals, we used the old hay and straw to keep weeds down and mark pathways in the garden.

So all I have to say is CHICKENS! They have kicked out all my straw searching for bugs. I was excited to have chickens to eat bugs in the garden, but am wondering if they will do more harm than good (i.e. pecking new buds on my baby grapevines and stories of chickens pecking ripe delicious produce). One peck is all it takes for the floodgates to open.

So considering keeping the chickens out of the entire yard. Hmmmm.

Here we are at Old Faithful last week. While we were vacationing, the chickens were busy scattering my straw. Argh.


LGH said...

Amber, you are really quite the gardener. I'm so impressed.

paula said...

Your garden is purdy....I wish I had a good spot to grow a garden. If I did, I'd make one just like yours. I have to admit...thank heavens for the pictures. You totally lost me with the "butterflying" and all that jazz.

jennaloha said...

Old Faithful looks cold. I can't remember cold?

But that salad. Nothing looks more appetizing than Butterfly Box Salad.

My little Arizona garden didn't too well. I pulled out one radish. Everything else withered and died. I think that radish cost us $40 dollars. Maybe that's a post right there?

Mrs. Olsen said...

WOW, you have been busy. I can't believe how complex gardening is and you totally sound like an expert to me. I love the teepee. I am so proud of you - the garden looks amazing. You look so beautiful at Old Faithful btw. come over kay bye.

Anonymous said...

so the last comment was from me but somehow on mom's computer, you are signed in. so, isn't that awesome that you think you are so awesome. Maybe I should hack into your email and send an email to the entire family and get you in trouble with somebody - yeah, that sounds like a great plan.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Old Faithful was cold. And rainy. I loved it!

Jenna, $40 for one radish is the price of education when it really matters to grow your own food. Oh, and that sucks by the way.

Niki, come over and play in the teepee. Can't wait to see you-heard your flight was the pits. Too bad you didn't listen to me when I wisely counseled: Benadryl.

Wade and Marilyn said...

Loved all of the garden pictures--especially loved your picture with you in front of Old Faithful.

Kimberly Davis said...

You have too much energy, your garden is insane, I'm proud of myself if I can even get plants in the ground!

Heather said...

AMBER... your garden looks splendid! Thanks for all the informative images. I need to visit again and see it in person!
Up for Ragnar next year?