Thursday, April 28, 2011

~ My Garden ~

I grew up in a large family. We lived in the country, grew and preserved our own food, sewed our own clothes, milked our cows, made our butter, cheese etc., raised animals and all the rest that goes with living on a country farm.

While I've never enjoyed sewing....(my other sister's do though), I love to garden and can or freeze  (I am wanting to try drying next) most of my family's food! I love to look at all the shelves filled with canned goods, knowing I did my part in keeping our little family fed!

I love working in my garden......
   ..........but, I haven't always loved it!

You see, my garden would always start out nice.... with long straight rows of veggies. I did a really good job (with hubby's help) at keeping it weeded too. It looked something like this;

Then about the time that the plants started producing -the garden would get out of control!

Overnight it turned into a great big patch of weeds!!! -sorry, no picture, (I never let myself take one 'cause I didn't want anyone to see it look so awful!)

 It was so bad, that by the time late summer got here, I'd refuse to pick veggies in it and we'd just plow it under..

The other thing I did NOT enjoy about having a garden was all the MUD!!!! It seemed I was always weeding and picking vegetables in the mud! And I hate cleaning muddy shoes!!!

I thought maybe I could make little square beds and leave the grass to grow as the paths .....Big Mistake!!!

The grassy/weedy paths just grew into my little beds, so that you couldn't hardly see where the paths stopped and the bed started!


Until.......a few years ago!

I decided to do something about it! I drew out plans, and measured everything off (again with the hubby's help).

Hubby made raised beds 4ft. x 8ft......


We filled all the beds with horse manure, put down Landscape fabric (25yr.-commercial) and topped the whole thing with wood chips (Thanks to my Sister for the help!)  -that was a job! 


Every spring and fall we add more horse manure to the beds. Our goal is to keep adding layers on top until the beds are raised approximately 2 1/2 -3 ft. high.

This year we are adding the last bed to it - I am planning on having it be an additional herb bed, raised like the rest of the garden beds.

We are also planning on putting another thick (4-5") layer of wood chips on too. Here is my current Herb Bed:

                     
I am wanting to make a glass frame to go over one or two beds so I'll have my own hot-house/greenhouse for growing early vegetables.

                        Now I love my garden!



 With the wood chipped paths, there is no more mud -even right after a rain!

The paths are wide enough (3 ft. with some bigger) to get a wheelbarrow, or wagon between each bed. -the kids even ride their bikes on the paths.

The rich compost in the beds produce more veggies than my previous large garden with long straight rows. In fact I can get enough green beans off one 4 x 8 bed to feed our family of five all year and we go though a lot of green beans (it's our favorite canned vegetable.)


I let the kids each have a 'garden of their own' in two of the beds. They choose what plants they want to grow and weed and harvest. (I help the 4 yr. old)

Last year I planted blueberry bushes on the north side of the garden. They are very small and don't show up good in pictures, but hopefully they'll start growing soon. We planted three different varieties -early, mid, and late.

In one corner of the garden, I have black raspberries and have red raspberries in the opposite corner.

To the East side of the garden is our strawberry bed.

In our old (previous) garden, our strawberry rows grew together and it turned into a large patch with weeds everywhere. We were stepping on berries while we were trying to pick them.

So, we dug out all the new runners ( I dug over 300 plants out that I counted ) and tilled the old plants under when we redid the rest of the garden.

We used the runners that I dug out to start our new patch and also gave some to my Parents and Brother & Sis-in-law to start their strawberry beds.



Now, my Strawberry bed has three long rows. They were mulched really good  when we planted them, then I use the straw that covered the berries in the winter between the rows. The plan is that every year, I replace one row of old strawberries with new runners. Thus each row will yield for 3 yrs before it's replaced. 

It's been our experience that strawberry's yield really good the first three years (with the biggest yield the second yr. -which I put 38qt. in the freezer and made lots of strawberry jam.), but not well the fourth year!  

I have a bed of rhubarb - both the Victoria and the Crimson Red. I like them mixed, but they are needing divided again, so need to find another spot to plant some. I love to freeze rhubarb.. it is so easy and it makes great rhubarb crisp!

I currently have two varieties of asparagus (the Martha Washington and the Jersey) I want to try the purple variety sometime soon, as it is supposed to be sweeter and better for freezing.

And since I love perennials, I have a small perennial bed in a corner and a border bed on the south side of the garden. I have a small bench that goes in the perennial bed, so that I have garden seating.

We also have a small orchard in the making, complete with nuts and grapes (still waiting on the grape harbor) but that will be a post for another day!

Right now, I just give all our excess veggies, and berries to family and friends. However, I'd like to start setting up at a farmers market in the next few years. 

I'd like to sell our farm fresh eggs, soaps and homemade cheese with the milk from our dwarf dairy goats.

I am a 'nut' when it comes to perennial plants, grasses and shrubs so would like to pot the extras to sell. And, I like croqueting and  making crafts that we could sell.

Pair all that with our Shaklee Business and that would make quite a booth for people to stop at! Plus, it's all stuff I love to do!!!

Do you have a garden?? What do you love about it? What don't  you love about it?

I'd love to hear from you!
  

5 comments:

  1. Your garden is AMAZING! This is how I dream of my garden looking one day. We just planted our first garden over the weekend. I did a blog post about it. Would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you have

    Delighted Momma

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  2. I love this garden. I'm putting it in my garden folder so that I can show it to my husband.

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  3. I enjoyed looking at your garden...wood chips...what a great idea!

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  4. Great lookinng garden! I love raised beds in planter boxes, best way to garden in my opinion!

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  5. I am so glad I found your blog!! Our love of gardening is so similar! The first year we planted a huge garden - I was committed and continued to care for it until I began harvesting, then the weeds came and I gave up!

    Our gardens are about the same size. We have 3 square foot beds currently and I'd like to add more every year. This year we are using grass clippings to keep the weeds away, we'll see how that goes!

    I need to learn more about strawberry runners- we have a huge bed and I know that I need to start planting runners so it will continue to do well.
    I'll be back to read more! :)

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