The Garden Expansion - Spring

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.)

Raised garden bed under construction

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.

Raised garden beds

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.)

Raised bed additions: soil and compost

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.

Cabbage beginning to head
Before the cabbage worms appeared

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.

Zucchini in flower

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.

Walking onions are "walking" out of their container.

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.

Crowded comfrey that needs to be moved

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?

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I'll remember that recipe for the organic cabbage worm spray! I have cabbage in now, but have never had a problem with worms. Good to know just in case!

    1. I hope you never need this recipe, Lauren, but it's good to have a plan just in case.

  2. Looks like you did a lot of heavy lifting Kathi. You must be very strong and hearty. I know what you mean about DIY compost. Ours is much better than anything they sell commercially. Way to go girl. We have lettuce, borage, cucumbers, and rosemary right now. I had little time to garden this spring so I'm glad at least we have these things fresh from our garden. What is your favorite veggie and do you plant it in your garden? Nancy A.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. Yes, it's been work. My favorite vegetable is definitely tomatoes, and even in years when I didn't have a "real" garden I always had a couple of tomato plants in buckets. What is your favorite?

  3. I have stared putting plants into buckets because of grass that just will not go away. It came in bag compost soil 2 yrs ago. We also have city water and they add lots of chlorine plus the well water has other bad stuff. Seeds today just will not germinate, hubby replaced all dirt in the greenhouse and vegies began to grow. He went and bought a bucket and planted radishes. My OK chocolate mint is growing in leaps and bounds also the lemon mint. Hoping it will take over the weeds someday! Your Comfrey looks good, will purchase some from Maine the end of mo, just waiting for the snow to melt! Linda in NM

    1. Hi Linda. I'm glad you're finding a way to deal with all the challenges you've had in your garden. I had a container garden for a couple of years but all I grew was tomatoes and peppers. I admit that I had the fewest weeds and fewest pests those years. Wishing you a good gardening year.

  4. I have trouble with grass every year especially wet years like this one. On dry years I have trouble with ants, moles, and grasshoppers. The grasshoppers eat everything like the plagues in the Bible. They strip the trees and eat everything living, but on wet years they don't appear, but the grass is everywhere. So I used raised beds too. Eventually the grass sent runners under the side boards of the beds and the beds became full of grass too. If I do it again I will get rid of grass in the walk spaces. This year I am experimenting with straw bales. If I don't like it I can use them for mulch. Thanks for letting me know that the deep mulching doesn't always work, so I won't try that. It is always a fight, but I get a lot more produce on wet years. I am harvesting peas, and onions right now. The green beans are blossoming.

    1. Bonnie, I know what you mean. A couple of years ago the grasshoppers ate my onions down to the ground and killed a peach and a nectarine tree. Every year the bermuda grass is a plague. I hope you'll let us know if the straw bale method works.

  5. Did you leave the chicken wire in the raised bed to prevent critters from burrowing into the garden? You have so much growing, just lovely. We are taking the summer off from growing veggies (too hot here), and focusing on flowers.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

    1. Hi Daisy, I had to cut out the middle of the chicken wire because it was bowed so badly. Fortunately I'm not bothered much by subterranean critters due to my barn cats - I just deal with rabbits and armadillos and insects. :-(

  6. Came to visit by way of Chicken Chicks' bloghop...

    I'm a confirmed raised bed lover myself, & I too doubled my garden space this year. I love flowers & have a few flower beds as well to make the place look pretty, & I keep a small herb garden in a suntrap behind the house. But nothing beats the taste of fresh veg from my own garden!

    1. Kindred spirits, Mrs Shoes. :-) Nothing beats a fresh tomato from the garden!

  7. I planted some beans and okra in the vegetable bed always look forward to your tips in Gardening it is really helpful, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

    1. Swathi, I'm glad it's helpful. It's always good to see you here.


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