since we moved to our new, 16 acre land in march of 2013, we’ve added the first portion of our backyard garden. it took time and effort, but all of the work has been rewarding and all the fruits of our labor (vegetables, really) have been delicious!
the picture below shows what our yard looked like before we started digging…
and here is the first step we undertook in building the beds:
since we wanted raised beds, first we dug down about 8 inches and scooped the soil out. as you can see from both pictures, we decided to line a portion of this bed with small, felled trees and dead brush. this was jason’s hugelkulture project and he wanted to experiment with how much the slow rotting and decomposition of the wood would benefit the roots of the plants growing above. the portion of the bed that is unfilled was later filled with leaf mold from the woods. this was my project: i wanted to see how the decomposing leaf mold would benefit the plants in much the same way as the decomposing wood. after filling the ditch with these materials, we layered all of the dirt on top and dug out an adjacent path (also about 8 inches deep) and placed that dirt on top too.
the reason for the half-and-half bed liner was simple: i wanted to do it one way and jason wanted to do it another way. so, we compromised and split the bed in two. this way, he could have it his way, and i could have it my way!
later in the season we planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, amaranth, chia, squash, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, and various other crops. considering that we started everything much later than desired, the garden made quite a bit for us this year (much more on this later).
you can see our small dwarf apple tree in the foreground of the the picture below, and the tomato cages; we use woven wire bound in cylinders and pinned to the ground with bent electrical piping (my father’s tried and true method).
our sweet potato vines really took over and yielded around 120 pounds of “wild man candy bars,” as my father calls them. you can see the lush vines in the second nearest bed.
all in all, it was a great year for our first garden together. we learned something about compromise and also what you do when groundhogs threaten to eat all of your sweet potato vines…
i also documented each of the planting and harvest dates for our crops and whether or not each crop was deemed a success or a dud.
i will be posting the calendar that we followed this year and the outcome of our different plantings soon. this way, perhaps we can start a dialogue about planting and harvesting in our region!