In my introduction I pointed out that my situation, despite my rural location, was not unlike that of the suburban gardener. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense to most people so I’m here to clarify.
Even though I’m surrounded by farmland my little niche is only seven tenths of an acre. Of that amount, half is a lot reserved for small livestock. That brings me down to roughly a third of an acre. My house and half circle driveway take up a large portion of what is left. So, like the suburbanite, I consider space a premium.
To really make my circumstances relevant to the ‘Burb gardener I want to give a brief overview of my activities….
So far my production has been limited to container gardening, raised beds, perennial plantings, and small scale Aquaponics. My container gardening consists of three 10.5 in. self-watering containers and a 34 gallon trash can. My raised bed is a single 4’x16’x1’ bed that I scored free materials to build. My perennial plantings are various dwarf fruit trees, grape vines, and berry bushes. My Aquaponics system is a 55 gallon aquarium, two 20 gal totes, cheap landscaping stone, two cheap garden pumps, and trash can for a reservoir. None of these pursuits were expensive and none of them are outside the realm of the suburban gardener.
In the very near future I hope to expound upon each of my endeavors so that the ‘Burb community can get a feel for how things got started, how they’re doing, and where they’re headed. More importantly I hope that you use the information to get started for yourself.
I am going to start off my saying that through this process I really respect what my parents/grandparents did by working outside in the field all summer. This one has been a killer, but I absolutely love sitting outside in the sunshine…..getting dirty…. and feeling as though I have accomplished something. Being outside planting, weeding, pruning… whatever makes me feel a little bit of the simplicity of life that we often miss in our busy hustle/bustle lives. I can respect that ability to wake up early work outside all day and then go to bed when it gets dark just to get up and do it all again. Sometimes I think that life would be easier if we weren’t so accustomed to what we have. I often times wish that we could just pack up and move to some place like Montana where there isn’t anyone for at least 50 miles and be completely self sufficient. But enough with the daydreaming, huh?
So, I realize that it’s been about 6 weeks since I last posted anything about anything. I apologize because in gardening time a lot can happen in 6 weeks, and believe me it has. We have been working in the garden almost every day (especially since I only work three days a week now). Jeremy ultimately turned the garden over to me completely (not only blogging, but also the care of the garden…he’s been busy). I started working at UK Medical Center on June 6th, and have had a lot of computer classes to do since it all started, which ultimately means I don’t want to be on the computer unless I have to….. hence the lack of updates.
Okay, So i guess this a bit of a continuation of last night’s post.
Today Jeremy and I went to Lowe’s to get more strawberries. (I told you I would) We ended up with a total of 10 strawberry plants…. and it’s probably a good thing I stopped there. We bought more of the Miracle Gro Organic Garden Soil, another 3 gallon planter/bucket, and a bunch of seeds. (I think Jeremy is wanting to look into preservation methods.)
Anyways, we wanted to wait until later in the evening again since in was so hot again today. At about 4:30 I realized it had cooled down a bit and the sun wasn’t directly overhead, so I thought going out to finish weeding the raised beds would be a good idea. I was WRONG! Torrential Downpour! That’s what happened. Anyways, I rushed to put everything away and came inside, but I did manage to get DRENCHED!
About 10 minutes later the rain stopped again… Just my luck! So Jeremy and I then went out to take care of all of the stuff. I managed to finish weeding the raised beds since the dark beat me out of finishing last night. I also used an old planter that the people who lived here before us left behind. It now houses 7 of my 10 strawberry plants. In order to allow the strawberries room to grow, I pulled up all the tulips and hyacinths in front of the apartment since they are done blooming (I preserved the bulbs, of course). So now the strawberries sit in my flower bed in front. It gets a lot of sunlight, and strawberries are quite beautiful plants. So they can double as a food source and a decorative plant.
We used our 3 gallon bucket/planter to grow some black beans. We hadn’t planned on this until today when we found the seeds at Lowe’s. These are also out front (they aren’t as pretty yet, but they need sun and since we are running out of room it works.)
Okay so another tally:
10 Strawberry plants (a couple already have blooms)
9 HealthKick Tomatoes
1 Bell Pepper
1 Anaheim Pepper
Black Beans (unsure how many are actually planted)
Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, Basil
Carrots (which are still TINY right now)
I guess that is it for now. Get outside and Grow some Veggies!
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and i feel fine!”- REM…. fitting for today!
May 21, 2011! It has been a busy day, but we are finally done! Even with all the talk of the end of the world.
So, I need to throw a quick shout out to my sister, Libby. Congrats on graduating High School!
After driving to Tennessee this morning for graduation festivities, Jeremy and I returned to Lexington to attempt to finish putting out our vegetables. Today was extremely hot and sunny! (High 80s) So we knew that it would be best to wait until the sun was going down to actually put any plants in the ground. We made it to Proper Plants at about 4:30pm.(http://www.properplantsonline.com/) This is the greenhouse where we buy almost all of our plants. They are local and grow all of their plants from seeds and work really hard to do so. They are amazing!
“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain…”-Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon
While the late great Shannon Hoon may have liked to watch the rain, I think that most of us here in Kentucky along with the majority of the Southeast would agree that “No Rain” would be a good thing(for a while anyways). Unfortunately, I hear that we are in for some more storms in the coming week.
I guess that I should take a moment to introduce myself as I have been a bit of a hermit. I am Sarah and I just finished Nursing School (the cause for being a hermit). Jeremy and I have been married for almost 3 years and have lived in Lexington, KY for nearly two years. Before we moved to Lexington, we lived in Berea, KY and had absolutely no room for anything. Fortunately, Jeremy’s parents were gracious enough to let us plant some vegetables in their gardens which were in Jackson County, KY. Unfortunately, it was very hard to care for them due to the hour long drive one way to get to Jackson Co. This is what ultimately drove us to figuring out how to best grow our own vegetables without them being an hour away. Luckily our apartment/duplex in Lexington has a decent sized backyard and a very lenient landlord, who pretty much told us as long as we knocked the dirt back down so grass would eventually grow again he was okay with our plans to create raised beds. Anyways, Jeremy and I both look forward to the warmer seasons not only for our gardening, but camping, photography, etc. We absolutely love having access to fresh vegetables, but growing up in the boonies makes that part of your life. As a child, we always had at least 1 garden during the summer and most often had 3 different garden sites. Unfortunately that is a bit more difficult when considering the amount of space we have living in Lexington. We have made the most out of what we currently have to work with, all the while still allowing for room so that the dogs can run and play outside.
So, picking up from the next day after the rain passed and the sun came back up. It does that every day, weird huh?
It went together pretty well, I’m sorry I didn’t grab any pictures of this, but it’s pretty easy to figure out what I did to put it all together. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section (if it’s working, will be turning that on later), or shoot me an e-mail. We had to do a few extra steps to get everything to really come together, like adding a couple boards in strategic positions, but still… very easy to do.
As I’ve stated before, I’m cheap. Being cheap requires some creativity form time to time, and today I definitely needed it.
In order to get some stuff in the ground, I decided that a raised bed would be my best option this year. So I got some general measurements about how big I wanted it to be, 10-12 ft. long, and about 4-5 ft. wide. Why so thin you ask? Because it’s a good idea to be able to reach everything in your raised bed, from outside of your raised bed. A 4′ wide bed would mean that at most you’d need to reach in 2′ from either side. See how that works? Write that down. Also, I wanted these beds to be in the range of 1-1.5 ft. deep when filled with dirt.
With those general measurements, Kristy and I set off to Lowe’s to purchase some wood and some form of weed barrier.
We wandered around Lowe’s for a bit, picked up a couple of containers of Marigold flowers (more on that later), and proceeded over to the lumber section. I love the way this part of the store smells, it makes me want to build things.
We pretty quickly found some boards that met my requirements, about 1′ wide, and from eyeball measurements, somewhere around 10′ or 12′ long. We loaded them up onto the lumber cart and tried not to take anyone out at the knees on our way to the checkout counter. Swipe the ol’ debit card and to the truck we go.
Here’s where the fun begins. I drive a Ford Ranger and the bed is somewhere around 5-6′ long. Not only that, once I get out there, I notice that these boards are actually 14′ long. This isn’t going to work. We tried a few angles, but in the end, it just wouldn’t work. There was way more board on the outside of the bed, than on the inside.
I swallowed my pride after an embarrassing amount of grumbling and general “Grumpy Old Man” behavior, and return the boards. I was going to just exchange them for some boards that would fit, but as I stood in the exchange line my cheapness kicked in. Why should I pay for boards when I have a perfectly good stack of extra fence boards in my garage? Let the creativity begin.
These boards are about 4′ long and 6 inches wide, so I’m going to need to stack one on top of the other to get my desired depth. If I lay 3 sets of these end to end, I’ll get my 12 ft length requirement. And then if I go one set across each end, I’ll hit my 4′ width requirement. Genius! This is just too perfect. Normally I’d have some snarky comment about failure here, but this actually worked impressively well, and very quickly.
Oh, I forgot to mention. We grabbed 2mm drop cloth (like for painting) from Lowe’s for about 4 bucks to use as a weed barrier. Creativity, and cheapness. Beats the heck out of the $30 rolls of weed barrier that they had for sale in the gardening area, it’s all just plastic.
In the odd event that you have something like these boards lying around, I’ve laid out the steps to make this happen below.
Lay 2 boards beside each other, and line them up so that the ends are flush. Then rinse and repeat with 2 more boards, so that you have 2 rows containing 2 boards.
Alright, so we’re going to try to get back on track with articles here. I know the site hasn’t been updated in a bit, but we’ve been quite busy behind the scenes, and taking pictures as we go. I’ve had to change up the way we had planned on doing our garden due to some soil/tool issues, and we’ve had several things that have died off due to the weather, neglect, and just not being able to get them to a good home soon enough.
The first thing I’m going to get into, is how we’re changing up our methods a bit. If you remember some of the previous posts, I had planned on tilling up a good chunk of the back yard and just plant things directly into the ground. Well, that didn’t quite work.
Growin’ Like a Weed!
As mentioned in an earlier post, we may have started our plants a bit too early. It’s the first of April, and we have plants that REALLY need to go into the ground. What’s the problem you ask? We’ve been known to get some cold snaps this late in the year, and I’m afraid a frost will do us in. As you can see from the pictures, our beans, lettuce, spinach, mustard, and cucumbers have all outgrown their limited space in the peat pots. Now what?
Well, we had already planned on possibly putting our lettuce and spinach in containers to keep the rabbits (“Bunny Hops” in Kristy speak) out of ‘em, but now we may have to put a few more things in containers.
Last night I set out to do just that.
*These first few articles and pictures are a little out of order because the idea for this site came about after we had already planted stuff in peet pots. So just bear with us, if you need a timeline to follow, let me know and I’ll draw one out. I’ve been going back and explaining what we did, and showing you things, but the pictures are from weeks after we purchased and planted this stuff. We just wanted to get as much information out there as possible*
I like to go ahead and get my disasters out of the way early, so let’s get to it.
As you can see from the pictures, the Greenhouse Shelf is “gettin’ it’s lean on”. My deck sits somewhere between 15 and 20 feet off the ground due to my basement and the slant of my yard. We had positioned the shelf near the edge of the deck, up against the banister area. It’s March, good sunshine, mild-ish temperatures and even if it gets a little cold we have the greenhouse cover thing… right? Right? I thought so, you agree don’t you? What else happens in March in Kentucky though? Storms? Yeah, but we can generally plan around that and roll it indoors (It has wheels! I told you it rocked). Bears waking up from hibernation? Nahh… not this far north. Hrmm… what else? Ooh, look at those kids flying kites, it’s a beautiful spring sight. Oh… kites… wind. Oh no.