I’m a bit of a lazy gardener, I’ll admit it. But that might not be a bad thing. We only have about 1/12 of an acre. While I’d love to squeeze out as much as possible from a tiny plot the reality of the situation is that I don’t have the time to put up as much as I’d like (“put up” is an older term for canning, freezing, drying etc.). Sure we used up this year’s bounty of rhubarb in the spring, but in general, I don’t know what I’d do with a larger garden. At the same time, I envy those urban gardeners who are able to squeeze out enough food for their family’s needs on a tiny urban plot. I look forward to a time when I can spend more time in my yard and make a more conscious effort to tend to a veggie garden properly – you know plan my harvests, rotate crops, etc.
As you may remember, earlier in the year The Goat built 3 pallet beds on the one level and sunnier spots in the yard. That was the easy part. The hard part was filling them with soil. We don’t have a truck, and a yard of dirt in a hatch back car just won’t work. We thought about purchasing bags, but the cost and waste of all the extra plastic bagging was really weighing on me. So, with the help of some friends (Thanks SW & JM!) we were able to borrow a small trailer, hand cart, and 5 gallon buckets. We purchased 1 yard of soil and compost and then spent a Sunday morning hauling the dirt in 5 gallon buckets to the pallet beds. Our yard is not level, not even close, so we can’t use a wheelbarrow to move things. What we did, and what worked well, was using a hand cart to carry 2 5-gallon buckets per load. We could pull or push the hand cart to the back steps, haul the buckets down the steps and dump them in the beds.
As you can see from the pictures, before we filled them with soil, I painted them with an exterior paint, we lined them with weed blocker fabric and netting (to keep out some critters) and lined the bottoms with an extra layer of newspaper. Each bed is between 12″ and 18″ deep.
So what did I plant this year? A few tomatoes (paste and storage), peppers (hot and “regular” ), popcorn, Hubbard squash, cucumbers, potatoes, and a few herbs and companion plants.
You have heard of companion planting right? If not, it’s this great gardening secret in which you plant certain things near each other to help ward off damaging insects and create a symbiotic relationship between good bugs and certain plants. It’s a very interesting theory and there are hundreds of possible combinations and tips and hints – entire books have been written about it. For more basic information, check this link from Mother Earth News. In my little beds this year, I planted the tomatoes and peppers in a grid and outlined the grid, like a tic-tac-toe board, with companion flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums.
While The Goat and the Jasmanian Devil enjoy the wildlife in the yard, I’m daily checking on the growth of all my little plants. That’s the really fun part for me, watching them grow! I’m still a little kid at heart, when it comes to gardening, “Ooh, something sprouted!”. But this year’s cooler weather has me wondering about the plants’ growth over the next few months. The potatoes look good so far, and the corn has sprouted, but we’ll wait and see if it gets warm enough for a bumper crop of peppers and tomatoes.