More Garden Progress: The Arbor & Fence

My husband has been hard at work; the arbor and fence around the new garden annex are finished. He’s decided to leave the posts long on the new section for now. We may need to tie a barrier around them if the corn gets too tall and the deer become too persistent. I’m not an expert on organic garden design, but bit by bit, I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.

I thought I’d show you some before and after pictures:


2010: Those are blueberry bushes on either side of the arbor & a raspberry bush between the blueberries and roses.

More photos from this year . . .

I guess I’d better get to weeding . . .

The potatoes in the white boxes are growing like crazy. I keep covering the green with dirt and it keeps shooting upward. We’ve gotten a load of rain lately, so things are a bit muddy right now. I plan to work on cleaning up this area over the Memorial Day weekend.

Please let me know how your gardens are coming along and how you’ve chosen to design your garden space.

Garden Progress

It’s time for another garden update. I promise I’ll write about something else soon, but the garden is something I’m really enjoying and I find I want to share it. I’m especially pleased at the progress we’re making on the garden annex (my name for the expanded area of the garden we started this year). My husband has begun building a fence around this area to match the fence around the raised beds. The deer eat everything here, so all of our hard work, along with all of the plants, will be lost without a fence. Here are some pictures of the latest developments:

The corn has sprouted . . .

Teepees! We have teepees! For the pole beans, of course. . .

The kindest garden fence builder. . .

The radishes and carrots are up in the raised beds. . .

Garden Helper #1

Garden Helper #2

This garden isn’t perfect and neither is this life, for anyone. But if I slow down for just a moment and watch the plants sprouting from small seeds, and listen to my children giggling as they stomp and run and swing outside, and watch my husband haul yet another piece of lumber from the garage to the garden as he builds a fence for me, for us, without ever uttering a word of complaint, I think I can almost smell the sweet scent of perfection.

I’ll take these moments and be grateful that I was able to recognize them. Because soon enough, it will be time to make dinner, to fold laundry, to unload and reload the dishwasher, again and again and again. . .

In the Garden

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Planting radishes and carrots. . .

planting potatoes in boxes, an idea I got from Chiot’s Run. . .

watching the strawberry plant bloom. . .

getting the garden annex ready and planting corn.

Have you been in your garden?

Garden Beginnings

Sprouts! We have sprouts!

I can hardly wait to get gardening. We’ve been busy clearing out the square foot garden beds and filling them up with more Mel’s Mix. My seed order arrived and a few tomato plants have already sprouted. They’re set up under the grow light for now while we wait for the peppers to sprout and get the carrot and radish seeds in the ground with the onions. We even have a lone little asparagus peaking up from the soil.

I don’t know why I get so excited about gardening. Maybe it’s because the results of the effort we put in are so tangible (and delicious).

I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about the kinds of things I want to expose my children to, and about all the things I want to protect them from. Having our own organic garden just a few steps from our back door is one significant way for me to put both of those things into practice. It’s a way for me to teach them the wonder of nature (really, food from seeds!) and the taste of home-grown vegetables. We can talk about food from our yard being much better for the environment than food shipped half-way around the world. We can delight in the pesticides we are not consuming and the large, abusive seed monopolies we are not supporting when we use organic, heirloom seeds.

My garden can represent environmental, chemical and political causes.

It can also represent the one cause that means the most to me: my children, and their health, and their joy in playing in the dirt, and giggling when they see worms, and tucking seeds into the soil with their tiny, careful fingers.

Our garden is time spent together.

How does your garden grow?

Garden Planning

I’ve been spending a lot of time going through my seed catalog and marking possibilities for this year’s garden. Pretty soon, I’m going to need to go ahead and place my order. I can hardly wait to get started. We had so much fun with our first year of square foot gardening last summer, that not only are we going to garden again, we’re expanding. We’ve already marked off what I’m calling the “garden annex.”

But first, the seeds. I buy nearly all of my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I like to buy local whenever I can and although they ship seeds nationwide, their company is located about an hour and half from where I live. They also have a no-GMO policy and carry many heirloom varieties. I love the history that goes with these seeds. My grandmother, who is 87 at this writing, remembers a cornfield bean her family grew when she was growing up in the “hills” of Eastern Kentucky. Southern Exposure has a variety of cornfield bean this year that dates back to pre-Columbian times; they believe this particular bean was “one of the oldest beans cultivated by the Iroquois.” I can’t wait to grow some to see if they are what my grandmother remembers.

We were pleased with what we grew last year, but want to add to it. This year, we’re planning to switch from bush beans to pole beans. We’ll grow the cornfield beans, but also a row or two of Kentucky Wonders. We’re also going to add corn, watermelon, zucchini, and pumpkins to the mix.

The annex. We’ve decided to keep the three boxes in the square foot garden area. There we’ll grow our tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, herbs, carrots and radishes. We’re going to plant the corn, beans, squash & zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins directly in the ground in the annex. As soon as the ground dries out a bit, I’ll get some pictures of this area and post them on the site.

Our helpers in early summer 2009

As I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the pesticides on our food, and the cost of organic produce, and the emissions involved in shipping vegetables all over the country, our own garden has seemed like a better and better idea. It’s also a lot of fun. Last year, it was a great learning experience for our two young helpers and I think it will be again. They’ve already been naming all of the things they want to grow.

I’d love to know if any of you have plans for a garden this year. If so, what will you plant?