My dear friend Kemi from Homemaking Organized , and Finch and I are all enormous fans of backyard gardening. So in honor of that, we’re starting a linky party, all to share what we (and you!) are doing in your gardens this summer! Each month, we’ll be focusing on a particular theme in our gardens and sharing what we’re doing there. We’d love for you to link up your garden photos, plans and adventures—anything you’re doing there!
Welcome to our first Garden Party linkup! This month, our theme is Garden Prep. Here’s what we’ve been working on in our backyard!
Designing Our Garden
We have a teeny tiny little backyard. However, even with that very small size to work with, there is a LOT you can do, gardening-wise! We decided to go with raised garden beds a number of years ago, when my friend Rhonda gave me a 2′ x 2′ bed plus a bag of organic soil. We fell in love with gardening and never looked back!
That tiny raised bed produced so much that we decided to expand. My husband built two more raised beds, from untreated lumber; another 2′ x 2′ and a larger 4′ x 4′. In addition, we have two large Rubbermaid tubs that we repurposed when the veggie coop we were members of closed down. We drilled holes in the bottoms of them for good drainage, set them on narrow cinder blocks (again to help with draining) and filled them with organic soil. (They’re not that beautiful, but they certainly are useful!)
This year, I decided to try square foot gardening. From a book by Mel Bartholomew called All New Square Foot Gardening, I’ve learned how (hopefully and potentially!) to pack in even more growing area to small spaces. Bartholomew knew that most books tell the backyard gardener to plant rows, thin seedlings 3″ apart, and so on. He turned that theory on its ear, deciding that dividing garden beds into 12″ x 12″ squares and then planting from 1-16 seeds in each square (leaving 3″ around each one) would make less work and more harvest for the gardener. That’s what we’re trying out this year!
Since we already had the raised beds, we simply had to add the wooden laths to divide the large bed into small squares. (Be sure you always use untreated wood for your beds and laths.) We used 1″ x 2″ by 8″ which we had cut into 4″ lengths for our raised bed. (We could have used 1″ x 1″, as we found out, but the size we got was the narrowest the wood center had.) They were easy to assemble; we simply measured the bed, laid the laths across and drilled holes for screws to hold them in place. We have to cover our beds with chicken wire because some neighborhood cats have, in the past, mistaken our garden beds for litter boxes.
Planning the Garden Plots
Next, we had to decide what we were going to try to grow in each square. This year, we’re branching out from last year’s crop of squash/tomatoes/sugar snap peas/cukes and adding lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, and a couple of herbs (cilantro and basil). We’re even going to try mini-watermelon! My son was kind enough to draw up a digital plan for me of what we’re planning:
One thing we’re adding (it’s the one in the black square) is garlic. I had a number of garlic heads which sprouted, so they’re going in the garden! You’re actually supposed to plant garlic in the fall but we’re just going with what we have.
And finally—it’s time for planting! Of course, you have to consult the growing guides for your region. We still have a couple of expected freezes in mine, so we’ve only put in the garlic:
and the sugar snap peas:
We actually included two spaces for the peas, because we are such fans! Mid-month, we’ll be able to add carrots and beets. But the tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash will have to wait til mid-May.
Last year, I struggled with some fungus on my cherry tomatoes. They still produced a decent amount of fruit, but the leaves were sort of sick. (Did you know that fungus can just float through the air and land on your tomatoes? I was appalled!) My local organic garden center recommended that we try some hybrid organic tomatoes instead; she said that they were more resistant to disease. So instead of starting my tomatoes from seeds, as I’ve always done, we’re going to purchase some established plants instead, a little later this spring. Then they’ll go in the ground.
Be sure to check out Kemi’s Garden Party post as well: We’re Preparing Our Garden: A Garden Party Link-Up.
What are you doing this month in your garden? Share your link so we can check it out!