Last fall I made plans to double the size of our garden. Since I've had such trouble in the past with grass and weeds, I've been building raised beds. And just to make things interesting - because the discretionary fund is pretty empty - I decided I'd do this on as small a budget as possible.
I started with one raised bed, because a journey begins with a single step, right?
The first bed was finished over the winter and I left it to "cook" until spring. I was hoping to have time to build two more before early spring, but the weather prevented that.
When it was time, I planted garlic and cabbage in the first bed, with a first planting of lettuce and some marigolds. I'll transplant the marigolds to other places in the garden when they're big enough, but this was the only planting space I had at the time. (I know, garlic should be planted in the fall. I didn't get it done.)
The second bed has the same measurements, but the boards for this one came from the old chicken run, which we replaced in the fall. I dragged a 4x8' frame to the garden in one piece. I added the second layer of boards, lined the bed with cardboard, cut off the poultry wire that had fenced in the run, and covered the cardboard with autumn leaves and a layer of aged horse manure.
The second bed is closest to the camera in the photo below, with the leaves and horse manure layer and ready to be filled to the top with planting soil. The green stuff on top is pulled weeds.
My oldest compost pile has been used up already. Since it was already spring by this time and I had plants that needed to be transplanted ASAP, I bought several bags of topsoil and compost to finish filling this bed, for a total of $10.08. I was hoping to spend zero dollars on this project, but that $10.08 came out of my change jar, so that's not bad.
(By the way, several weeks after filling that bed with purchased compost and top soil, I have to say that my own compost is so much better than anything that can be purchased. Seriously, you need to make your own.)
Spring sprung and the weeds grew up, so I took the lawnmower in the garden and mowed the weeds down for the first time. This is why I'm using raised beds: I want to be able to mow in between them. Thankfully, I'd measured well and the mower fit just like I'd hoped it would.
The second bed holds yellow crookneck squash, green peppers and tomato plants. They are all blooming now, and there are two little pea-sized green tomatoes.
I've framed the third bed and am working on filling it. A thick layer of cardboard, then grass clippings, hay, a layer of kitchen waste and the shavings from the ducks' brooder line the bottom of this bed. The compost made from goat droppings and hay is ready to use and will go in that bed as soon as it stops raining long enough. I'm not complaining about the rain though.
This weekend I discovered little green cabbage worms on the cabbage. I picked off as many as I could find. This is the first time I've grown cabbage, so I googled what to do. I mixed up 1% chopped garlic, 1% fish oil, and 98% water, and using a sprayer I saturated the plants. This is supposed to be very effective, even more so than a chemical spray that I wouldn't have used anyway.
Next year I'll put floating row cover over the young plants to keep the cabbage butterflies away altogether. I waited too long this year.
The zucchini went in the garden in a big feed tub with holes in the bottom. They are blooming like crazy. I have another of these tubs and will plant in it as well.
Eventually, when I have more raised beds built, I'll move my herbs to the garden but for now, they're still in the container herb garden. Nearby, the walking onions are growing in a washtub. They're "walking" out of it though and will be moved to the garden eventually.
The comfrey is also in a washtub; the four plants are too crowded and need to be moved too.
I've also been filling in the low spot in the corner of the new garden where the ground drops off.
Hopefully the beds will all be built, filled, and ready to plant next spring. And if I could find some free carpet to line the paths between the beds to help keep the grass and weeds under control, I'd be thrilled.
What is growing and blooming in your garden?
The Garden Expansion - Winter
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
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