Dreamy (Almost) No-Dig Vegetable Garden Project

This past year has been a wild one but afforded our family the time to start our first serious garden project at this house. I started the plans in November when my boys were out of the country with no idea that we would have ALL THE TIME WE COULD WANT to get it off the ground (or is that “in the ground”?)

We’ve completed SO many indoor projects in the past four years (I promise that one of these days I will post about our hall bathroom, game room and basement bathroom remodels), but it’s time to head outdoors. Our goal was to have a big enough vegetable garden to provide for our family with dreams of having plenty to share with friends and neighbors. Honestly, I also wanted a project big enough for my three children to be able to pitch in as well! Hard work is a great teacher and so much fun.

We planned for 32′ x 18′ of fenced space for annuals (I’m not interested in sharing with my wild neighbors) with an additional 3′ on each side for perennials. We’re starting this experiment with Charles Dowding’s no-dig approach. (As a side-note: if you need a way to escape the craziness of life, Charles Dowding’s YouTube videos are inspiring and really restful.) Now, let the digging begin. No, no digging. Well, we did dig the holes for posts but I think our garden still qualifies. My oldest daughter, Annika, and I got the holes dug for the posts in about a week. Not bad! We chose 6′ cow fencing for our sides and left a 4′ space on the east end for an entry gate.

Next we posted on NextDoor for cardboard boxes and were able to collect plenty to cover the entire garden area. Our walkways and entry area needed a solid mulching so we sent a request to ChipDrop and got a beautiful FREE load of wood chips from a local arborist. We found a local landscape company that had a February special that would deliver garden soil if we purchased 5 yards so $150 later, we were set. We spent a few days with the wheelbarrow and placed the materials in a pattern of rows that I planned out with the help of the Farmer’s Almanac online Garden Planner tool. We were ready to… wait. It was only the end of February. Our last frost date isn’t until April 27th dang it! Patience is a virtue and indoor seed starting is about to become a new skill.

My husband thought I needed a little shed-type entry area to hang tools and provide some shade for our house critters that like to visit the garden with me. He built a 4′ x 6′ garden hut that is perfect for all of us. That’s Misty the dog and Winter the bunny taking advantage of the shade – getting a break from their hard work.

Overall we have been extremely pleased with the results of the project. We were amazed at the amount of vegetables we have harvested and the fun it has been to cultivate. If I were to start this again there are a few things I would change. First, I would have made sure there were NO exposed seams in the cardboard. The weeds we had in the garden (namely: Bermuda grass, wild chive and dandelion) all came up through the spots that we did not layer the cardboard at the seams. We continue to weed those spots but hope with diligence that they will clear out eventually. Second, we would have dug a trench round the whole project. Because Bermuda grass spread with runners as well as by roots and seed, we are now digging a trench that will be maintained to spot those stragglers. All in all, it has been SO worth it.

A Little Nudge to Spring

I am ready for spring!  I don’t know about you but this winter seems to be dragging.  It could be that my family has been cooped up for three weeks alternating sickness or the fact that we’ve had almost no snow to play in this winter but I am so ready for spring!  What do I do when I’m ready to see some new life and encouragement?  I plant things.

Seriously, I know it’s only February but one of the benefits of living in the South is sometimes these winter experiments work!!!  So, the other day I drug out my little shovel, my rake and my newly delivered bag of seeds and headed to the back 40 (square feet of raised bed.)  After a quick perusal of my stash I decided to experiment with sweet peas, broccoli, radish and beets.  Their not called winter veggies for nothin’ (I hope!)  So in they went with a good dousing of MegaSea from Sweetcorn Organic Nursery and a healthy sprinkling of MegaStart worked into the soil.

I have hopes, high ones!  It’s supposed to be 60 dregrees today so I’m thinking I should be picking peas by Easter, right?!?  Well, maybe my patience will be exercised in this endeavor, but the hope that spring is coming will keep me encouraged for another few weeks til I see the redbuds showing signs of life.

Cedar Arbor… update

arborI would love to share my easy-peasy 1…2…3 directions to building my cedar arbor but it just wasn’t.  I found directions for the project at thevioletfern.blogspot.com and I’m thankful but it took 3 days, 5 children, 3 adults, 1 saw, 1 sawhorse, 1 drill, 1 measuring tape, several pencils, 2 bandages and a bunch of wood screws to get it done.

As you can see the top is still a little bare but a wind storm tore a branch from our front sycamore tree so with a little help from my kiddos and friends (whoops!  add 4 more to the children tally) we will have the branches for the top today.

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