Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Create A Vegetable Garden

Ready to start growing your own food?

Over the past years, we have put in a number of gardens and planting beds. We have moved a few times and only the very first house we moved into had a designated vegetable garden. Meaning all the other homes we have owned, we have had to create a garden area. We started small and then grew this idea to an almost gigantic level.

Here are helpful tips to make your new vegetable garden a success.

1. Location. Where is this garden going? Here are important features that you are going to want in your garden:
  • Pick a location that is primarily flat. This makes the area easy to work and you will not have to worry about seeds and soil being washed away with the rain.
  • Decide on a location with good drainage. Are there weeds or grass already growing here? Good! This indicates drainage and nutrient rich soil.
  • Gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Yes, some vegetable plants can grow in less sunlight but you will be decreasing your options of what you can grow. 
2.  How big of an area are you going to take care of? If you are new to gardening, then you may want to start small, a few square feet will get you started. Once you have decided on the measurements of your garden, you will need to mark the area. Is there any specific design you love? Raised beds?
  • Mark the corners of the garden with stakes.
  • Tie string from one corner to the next and map out your garden. We have used a garden hose before but it is not as precise as using the stake and string method.
  • Check corner measurements if you want perfect 90° angles. We used a squaring tool from the tool box but honestly, just grab a piece of paper and check the angles.
3.  Clear out the competition. Bye-bye weeds or grass. I am trying not to go on a long tangent about organic methods here, so I will spare you... Here is what we did.
  • We are lucky enough to be an owner of a very very old and hand-me-down rototiller. But you can easily rent one from your local hardware store for the afternoon. You could do this by hand depending on the garden size.
  • Till the area at least 2 times to chop and turn over the dirt.
4. Check out the quality of your soil.
  • Check the acidity of the soil. You can get a simple pH tester from your local garden shop or hardware store. 
  • Do you have topsoil down a few inches or is it only on the surface? We have red clay here in North Carolina only inches (if that) under the topsoil. 
5. Update the soil if needed.
  • Need to remove any rocks or garbage from the area? We had both to remove in our garden. The back corner was filled with 2-3 inch rocks that we removed as we came across them. The area was partially used as some sort of a planting bed, so there was weed barrier in some areas that need to be ripped out. 
  • Add any raised beds, if that is your plan.
  • Add any topsoil to the area that is needed. We calculated our soil need on this site.
6. Add a barrier fence. Unless you live in some unknown area that doesn't have wild animals... you need a fence or a barrier to your garden. We have experienced animal damage in the garden first hand and it is an ongoing fight!
  • We used a very simple t-post and flexible mesh fencing. Quick! Simple! Inexpensive! This can easily be repaired and the best part is that the design of the garden can be expanded! 
Now get planting! Transplant your plants or direct sow your seeds to your content!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Update From North Carolina

Wow! 2015 has already been full of adventures for our family and we are approaching the half way point of the year!

First and foremost, so sorry for the prolonged absence!

Here is a little bit about what we have been up to...

Right before Christmas, Ron accepted a new job in North Carolina. Just days into 2015, Ron left Wisconsin to start work and this left us, girls back home to sell our house. The house sold fairly quickly, within 3 months from listing to closing. This meant we had a whole house to pack up, a new house, school, and church to find. Oh, and then there was the moving us and everything we own 1000 plus miles away.

Ron found a church right away in the area and they have already been a huge blessing to our whole family.

We found a great home and neighborhood on a little over an acre of land in Eastern North Carolina. It has great sunlight and mature trees! We even have raspberry bushes.

There have been many new adjustments for us all, but we were definitely not prepared to start a garden immediately. After all, I still had to find all the gardening tools in our moving mess.

"Up north" we would not plant until after Mother's Day or even Memorial Day. But down here I was told to wait to plant after Good Friday! That is a huge increase in our growing season and means I have to get moving!

Sadly, we were grossly disorganized with moving, starting a new school and just trying to get around town. Planting has been slow going but is happening and we will keep you posted on the progress!

Here are a few pictures from the beautiful blooms in our yard.

Upcoming Post:  Starting a garden plot.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 In Review

It is time again to reflect on last year and get ready for the year ahead.

I thought it would be fun to look back on all that has happened both on Sustainable Blessings and in our yard this past year.

Here is a listing of the most popular posts in 2014:

What We Grew In 2014:

We continued to weighing the harvests from our garden and yard this year. Last was the first year I weighed any harvests and we came in at 433 pounds 3.5 ounces!

Asparagus: 10.5 ounces, our first harvest after planting them 3 years ago!
Beans - Green: 1 pound 5.7 ounces
Corn - Sweet: Raccoons ate it all!
Cucumber: 39 pounds 14.3 ounces
Cucumber - Pickles: 3 pounds 6.7 ounces 
Garlic: 0.7 ounces 
Garlic Mustard: 0.1 ounce
Kale: 4.5 ounces
Lettuce: 2 pounds 6 ounces
Mulberry: 9.11 ounces
Nasturtium: 0.2 ounces
Onion - White: 8.1 ounces
Pear: 8.6 ounces
Pea - Sugar Snap: 6.1 ounces
Pepper - Green: 5.5 ounces
Pepper - Jalapeño: 5 pounds 14.4 ounces
Raspberry: 3 pounds 2.8 ounces
Rhubarb: 3 pounds 1 ounce
Strawberry: 2.7 ounces
Tomato: 200 pounds 4.4 ounces
Tomato - Cherry: 3 pounds 15.7 ounces
Violets: 0.1 ounce
Watermelon: 36 pounds 6.7 ounce

Total Weight Harvested in 2014... 309 pounds 5.91 ounces!