Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Garden Update May 7th, 2014

I am done with the semester!!! I am relieved and thankful that it is over. Between buying a house, moving to the new house, having 5 tough classes in school, working, starting an herbal school, and the responsibilities of day-to-day living these past four months have been the hardest I have ever had to go through. Many times I felt like I wanted to quit. But, I am now on the other side, I have survived and I am stronger for it. It pushed my limits of productivity and discipline and helped me to realize how much I truly can accomplish when I am dedicated and put my mind to something :).

Now for the good stuff. My garden! Since we just moved in January, I had very low expectations for the 2014 summer growing season. I didn't want to invest a bunch of time and money to get my hopes up and then not have anything grow. I have only spent $20 so far. $10 was spent on potting soil and the other $10 was spent on seeds. For the rest, I got old seeds out of the freezer from previous years and planted them in recycled containers on the porch so I wouldn't have to take them inside and outside and wouldn't have to baby them at all (less emotional investment, which means less devastation if nothing grew). At least I learned something from my damping off/mold fiasco from last year. Much to my surprise and delight, everything has sprouted and is growing nicely. I couldn't be happier!

Since I have a bunch of plants the next hurdle was figuring out where to put the garden. Currently we have a lot of trees but I found a location in the backyard that got enough sun and decided to dig 2 3x15 foot beds. 

I used the double dig method from the French Bio-intensive way of gardening. 

Basically,  I started digging the first portion of the bed, 1 shovelful deep and moved the dirt aside. Then I took a garden fork and loosened up the next shovelful deep. 

Then I added dolomitic limestone to raise the pH. 

Then I added in a few shovelfuls of composted manure (that I got from a local beef farm for free). 

Then I took the next portion of the bed, dug out 1 shovelful deep and instead of putting it aside, I shoveled it onto the cow manure from the previous step, loosened up another several inches deeper with a garden fork, added lime, and manure. Rinse and repeat. 

I dug one whole bed this way, and with the second bed I got halfway doing it the correct way and then I got tired and just loosened up the first 8 inches of dirt and piled the composted manure on top. At least it is better than nothing! 

This is also the reason I gave up halfway through the second bed. The dirt here is filled with big gravel and this pile is just what I picked out after hitting it with my shovel. I am sure there is much more that I didn't get. 

It was a lot of hard work but I am very proud of my newly dug garden beds. I will be putting 4 different kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloup, green beans, okra, zucchini, peppers, and collards in these beds. 

I have also gotten lots of free plants from some very generous friends!

One person gave me anise hyssop, lemon balm, wild bergamont (bee balm), spearmint and peppermint. 

I put them close to the garden beds so when they flower they will attract pollinators.

I also wanted to plant a bunch of herbs and so I built two beds next to the porch for easy harvest when I am cooking.

There was a definite soil pan and I couldn't get more than 8 inches deep with the shovel so I dug out what I could and built up the beds with extra composted cow manure. 

Then I covered the beds in leaves as a mulch. 

In the first bed I have basil, parsley, greek oregano, and dill. 

In the second bed I have holy basil, borage, more parsley, and soon I will be adding thai basil that I grew from seed when it gets big enough. 

I also got some landscaping plants from a friend that I put in front of the deck. 

Here are my Delicious and Amish Paste tomatoes. 

Zucchini in the front, Burgundy Okra in the back. 

Tomatillos on the right, and then there is collards, cucumbers, and cantaloupe. 

Thai basil and regular basil. 

I am thrilled that the garden is doing so well and I plan to put up a fence to trellis the cucumbers and tomatoes this afternoon and then I can start planting everything out into my lovingly prepared beds :).

After the fiasco last year with all the damping off, I am learning that it is better to sow seeds and then forget (at least for me). From now on, I will just plant my seeds on containers outside where they can get rained on and sit in the sun and when they are ready to sprout they will. haha This means less emotional investment on my part and I think it makes the plants tougher. So, win-win. 

I am also learning that in order to move forward I just have to start doing something. I know that sounds so cliche, but for the last 3 months I had been brooding about where I was going to put the garden and not wanting to put anything in the wrong place. But, I had to get out there and start digging and just decide. Who cares if I have no idea what I am doing. haha! They are plants after all, and if it turns out they don't like where they are living I can always move them. 

I am really happy with how things are progressing and I will update again soon when we have our fence put up and all of our plants in the ground.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I'm so glad you posted about this, Noelle! I bought some seeds a few weeks ago in order to start a container garden on my apartment balcony, but I think I might be too late! I don't really know much about gardening- for example, who knew you could start the seeds inside?? ;) I'm going to have to get over my fear soon before I miss my chance to plant anything!

    1. It is never too late to plant!! I say go for it and put some of those seeds in a pot. The absolute worst thing that could happen is that they don't sprout. But, I promise anything you do will help you learn and will give you more courage and knowledge about how to do it better the next time :). haha So, don't let those seeds scare you! Let me know how it goes and what you plant. I would love to hear :).


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