We moved here three years ago, 12 days before Rosie was born. I was so obsessed with getting a garden started that the day after I spent a few hours hoeing the garden, I went into labor. There definitely was a correlation between the 2 events. The end of the yard had obviously been used as a garden at some point but when we moved in it had been covered with grass seed and was a normal lawn again. I have spent the last 3 years trying to kill my lawn there. I think this year I finally have full success in that. I have been attending workshops at the Dickinson College Farm and the 2 sessions that were in January and February were particularly inspiring and made me motivated to really plan out my garden this year and do it right. 3 months later my garden is planted and I couldn’t be more excited.
When I originally started the garden here, I made due with whatever space I could tear up. I planted seeds in a completely un-planned way and usually the squash would over take many other vegetables. This still has a possibility of happening this season but I tried to plan a little better at least. Over the last 2 seasons I expanded the area of the garden and last year I put a compost bin in the back of the yard against the fence. I realized that I had to walk through the overgrown garden to throw out my compost and it was getting to be a pain. Also, pumpkins were growing over the whole space so I had to dig holes and throw them in. So this year I moved it up the yard before the garden starts.
Half of our yard had a chain link fence around it when we got here and our yard borders 4 yards on the one side. I do like a little privacy so we installed a 6 foot privacy fence, replacing the chain link. This has been great overall but I started to notice that the fence at the end of the garden was a bit of a problem. I rotate the plants each season and last year I put the tomatoes at the end of the yard.
They produced some fruit but I realized that the fence at the end was blocking out too much sunlight and choking the plants growth. This year I decided to just knock down the back fence so the garden could take advantage of as much full sun as possible. I have attached chicken wire across the remaining poles and planted all of my beans at the end.
This way, by the end of the season, I will have a green fence at the end of the yard but the light will still be able to come through and the plants will get lots of full sun at the beginning of the season. I like the idea of vertical gardening but I can’t invest too much time in it yet so this is an easy way to start.
The farm workshops made me realize a few things. First, that because I didn’t plan out my garden well, that I till the garden but don’t have well defined paths between the rows that would remain consistent each season. This would make it easier to keep the soil fluffy and less compacted. I also realized that if I was going to create paths that would remain the same each year, I wanted to design a garden that was functional but also fun and a little creatively designed.
I wanted a curved path that would wind through the garden and separate the outer garden from the inner one. I planted crawling plants like squash on the outside and smaller ones on the inside. I added corn all along the garden where it gets full sun but the corn would only shade towards the garage and wouldn’t affect the other plants around it. The path was also created as a guide for the kiddos so they wouldn’t crush my seedlings. As for the dog, she is not bright (but very cute), and simply wouldn’t stay out of the garden and compost bin so I had to set up a mini fence through the yard to keep her out completely.
I wanted to extend my garden season as long as possible this year so I planted 16 flats this year. It started out great but because March was so warm, I kept putting the flats on the balcony and they shot up.
Some of the plants outgrew the cells and started to die so I decided it was better to plant early and risk a cold snap then let them die from lack of space and nutrition. Everything has been put in the soil now and the torrential downpours yesterday were great for the little guys. As my garden has expanded, so has the time commitment to it but I don’t have a lot of extra free time. I realized last season that soaker hoses are my saviour. They snake through the whole garden and allow me to water the garden without any real time investment. I do have a bad memory with my overly busy life so I have to set the timer on my stove otherwise it would be watered for hours and hours and hours…….