When I was 6 years old, my family moved to the town I lived in until college. My mom immediately got into gardening, and built huge gardens throughout the property. She grew lots of vegetables, herbs, and even flowers (many of which she would dry and keep in the house year round). She mom filled our house with books about organic gardening, never used a pesticide in her life as far as I know, and she spent many summer days canning pickles and salsas and other fruits of her labor. I definitely take after her when it comes to gardening. When I’m stressed out, brushing my hand over a tomato plant so I get its smell on me instantly calms me down. Few things beat eating a cucumber right off the vine.
When I bought my house, I was so delighted to be able to start a permanent garden! I went crazy and dropped so much money on seeds, started everything early in the spring, built a few raised beds, and was sooooo excited to eat fresh vegetables all summer long. This was in 2013. You know what else happened in 2013? Rain. So much rain. It rained every day that summer. I’m not even exaggerating. We set records. Correction: we destroyed records. Everyone in the city seemed depressed. The only things that grew well were mold and wild mushrooms. It was beyond disappointing.
I felt defeated and didn’t plan at all for my 2014 garden. Around mid-spring I decided I wanted to give it another shot, so I went to the nursery to pick up some plants and they actually did alright! I was terrible at watering consistently, and there weren’t many plants to begin with, but it gave me hope that I could try again the next year.
Fortunately, most of those leftover seeds from 2013 were still viable, so last spring I set up some fluorescent bulbs and started all my plants. I figured out a watering system that worked for me (I’ll post about that separately at some point), I mapped out my raised beds, and for most of the summer things went really well! Not everything was as productive as I would have liked, but I think this was partly because I planted things too close together because I couldn’t pare down my ideas. So this year I’m expanding!
My original two raised beds are approximately 3 ft by 6 ft. I built them using cedar fence planks, which I bought because cedar is naturally resistant to rot and those planks are the cheapest way to get cedar. Sadly, I built them in the winter when the leaves are off the maple tree in that part of the yard, and I had no idea that one of them would be mostly in the shade all summer until after everything had been planted that first year. Whoops. I planted that one full of garlic in the fall, and I don’t think the tree should pose an issue for it, but it also means I am down to one bed until the garlic is harvested — which means it’s time to build some more!
Filling them is less expensive now that the goats are little manure factories, but I am still working out how many beds are reasonable and where to place them. While I work that out, I’ve ordered some new seeds, am testing the old ones to see which are still good, and setting up a little seed starting area in an unused closet. Fun stuff!