Saturday, December 3, 2011

The thing about gardening...

Is that there is always next year to look forward to. I always have big garden plans, sometimes too big.  When I bought this land and decided to build a house a couple of years ago I planned for a garden space.  I wanted something that would be easy to maintain and work around so I built raised beds.
The raised beds turned out to be significantly more work then I had thought (isn't everything!).  The biggest problem with raised beds is finding enough soil to fill them.  The soil here is very poor.  It is 80% rock held together by wet, acidic clay. I suppose I could have purchased a truck load of top soil but my budget just couldn't handle buying dirt.  For the past two years, I have been filling in these beds with layers of mulch, horse manure and what soil I could manage to transport from other parts of the property.  I made some feeble attempts to plant a few things in my beds with very poor results.  Not only were my soil building attempts still too raw but, building a house and a barn on my own was so overwhelming that nearly everything else got pushed aside.  The garden most of all.

This past Spring, the soil in my beds actually started to look like soil and I had high hopes.  I planted something in every bed and I did actually get a harvest.  However, I still wasn't able to devote the time it really needs and as a result, my garden got completely out of control this summer. The whole thing turned into a giant morass of  impenetrable weeds.  I finally gave up on it and just let the weeds go until freezing temperatures beat them into submission.  This past week, while we have been enjoying unseasonably nice weather, I finally tackled the garden.  I ruthlessly pulled everything out of each bed, turned the soil and added a cart load of aged manure (which I finally have, thanks to the horses) to each one. 

Gardening is tough, I think that everybody who gardens experiences years where nearly everything goes wrong.  A few years ago the whole area was stricken with blight; we had a year of terrible drought and another of so much rain everything rotted. The thing about gardening though, is that every year you can start over, forgive yourself the mistakes you made last season, think about what you want to do different and start making plans.


  1. We finally did our first raised beds this year. I agree - a lot of work! But, I think mostly worth it. Holy moly... there's nothing better than fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, right?! :)

    So, when are you getting another donkey? ;)

  2. We also did raised beds this past summer. My first garden ever. We had great success using 8" high plywood to be sure the bed was deep enough. And the organic heirloom seeds from Survival Seeds were excellent. We just used llama, goat, chicken and horse manure (most of it aged, but not all) in place of soil. I grew spinach, romaine, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, carrots and radishes. I also planted peppers, but the cucumbers and zucchini went wild and suffocated them. lol!
    We ate salad every day all summer long and into Fall. I loved being able to just walk outside and pick my lettuce, carrots and radishes fresh from the garden. And my zucchini harvest was over 40 zucchinis!

    I'm planning on adding another raised bed this Spring, because the 4'x12' one I experimented with last summer isn't big enough for me to plant everything I want to.

    I hope both of our gardens are a huge success next summer!