Thursday, February 24, 2011

The 2011 Garden - Baby steps into Permaculture

As I mentioned in my last post, there has been a significant expansion in our gardening plans for 2011. In 2010, I tore up about 500 sq ft of lawn to convert to garden, this year will see somewhere around 1200 sq ft converted to dedicated garden, and another 1000 sq ft or so converted to a permaculture type garden.

One of our biggest changes from 2009 to 2010 was the addition of raised beds. These went a long ways to reducing the amount of weeding done each week, and for the crops that survived the frost, made a nice home for them. Our total cost for 8 raised beds (2'x4') was absolutely nothing. Many fencing supply companies sell vinyl fencing. The vinyl fencing is sold to them with a 2'x4' pine brace around it. They just slide the braces off and throw them away. Going to a local lumberyard to pick up lumber for the beds, they mentioned that we could have the large stack of braces for free, as well as some trim pieces of cedar and fir left over from fencing projects. It took a few trips with our van, but we manged to get them home and filled with soil. This year, we are adding another 20 beds of the same size, with leftover braces we can build cold frames for the young plants so we do not have a replay of last year.

The selection in the garden is growing as well. Last year, we grew Italian zucchini (Costata Romanesco), some summer squash, and carrots (Tendercrisps) successfully. Just about everything else was killed by the frost. In addition to the Costata Romanesco, we are growing 4 tomato varieties (2 cherry, 1 paste, and 1 beefsteak variety), 3 types of carrots, 4 types of lettuce, celery, amaranth, 4 new squashes, 4 types of melons, 2 types of beans, 2 types of peas, and broccoli. We are also adding blueberry bushes, elderberry bushes, an additional grape vine, and a few new fruit trees. Our experiment with corn last year taught us that if you have a small place to plant, corn is not going to work in your favor. In a different climate, maybe, but our little homestead just didn't agree with our sweet corn crop and we ended up with tiny ears.

For our locale, we will not plant outside until nearly Memorial Day, but once the beds are prepped, I'll have to post some pictures. After all the work going into it, there has to be at least some record of accomplishment.

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