When we have each other, we have everything.
I have been following the "100 Days of Real Food" blog for quite some time now. Ben and I are making our own bread each week, we have ditched any food with preservatives and non-natural ingredients, and exploring many new recipes (Kale chips, homemade tortillas, homemade ravioli, cajun seasoning, and much more). I am loving it! I have been feeling so good since we have drastically changed our eating habits, along with exercising of course. The next step for me is growing my own food. I have wanted a garden for the last few years, but never quite had the money or time to dedicate to it. I have been doing a lot of research on my days off of school (cold weather closures...going on 5 days now) and I think I have a plan! I am so excited to get this started this spring.
Step 1: Clear the Area
Currently, the area is overgrown with what used to be a phenomenal garden. Harry and Charlotte (the previous owners of our house) had a ton of space dedicated to gardens. Apparently, Harry was the gardener. It is clear that at some point, the gardens would have been stunning. Now, not so much. We will be renting a machine to completely clear the area this spring.
Step 2: Call Local Arborist
Call the local arborist that delivered 15 yards of mulch to my house last year and have him deliver another truck load ($40 for the whole load). I was given this tip from Margo Thorp. Local arborists that are trimming trees in your area may consider dropping their load off at your house rather than paying to dispose of it elsewhere. Bargain with them and you will get a ton of inexpensive mulch. It will have some green matter mixed in...but the green matter disappears over a short amount of time.
Step 3: Build a Fence
We are going to build a fence similar to this design from Pinterest. It is simple, has small holes to prevent varments, and is tall enough to hopefully prevent raccoons and deer from eating our goods. The space will be about 40 feet long by 6 feet wide. We will be tiering the landscape in order to prevent significant runoff to the lake using larger buried timbers, as the land slowly slopes toward the lake on that part of the property. The nice thing about a fence surrounding the garden is that I won't have to worry about using treated lumber (you will understand why when I show you my design). Normally, you wouldn't use treated timber because the chemicals may leak into your garden spaces.
Step 4: Spread the Mulch
We will spread the mulch inside of the fenced area to help prevent weed growth and to help with runoff to the lake.
Step 5: Layout the Garden
I used Floorplan through Google Drive to create a basic layout of the garden beds. As you can see, there is a path running through the middle, a few small stairs for the tiered areas and the basic outline of the fence and gate. Although this is a rough sketch, I can already see that I am going to have more space than I need... so I may be turning this into more of a community garden.
Step 6: DIY Items
Make a few DIY items for the garden. All of these ideas are from Pinterest: compost bin, rain barrels, glow-in-the-dark pathway, and plant markers.
Step 7: Gardening in Burlap Sacks
My chosen method for planting is going to be in burlap sacks rather than raised wood boxes in the ground. I have been doing some reading on this method and it is becoming quite popular due to versatility, natural air flow, compostability of the bag, the increased amount of planting in a vertical vs. horizontal space, and the low cost start-up. This method is being used to teach refugees how to feed their families in countries that struggle with food production and even in local Salvation Army parking lots to educate people on gardening. It is awesome. Below are a few resources that I used to educate myself on the method, as well as some pictures of how it works.
1. Engineering For Change
3. The Coupon Project
4. The Wisconsin Gardener (Gal who started a garden in Salvation Army parking lot)
5. Burlap on the Brain Video
Step 8: Wait for Spring
Now I just wait for spring to come. I have a list going of the foods that I would like to grow and am looking into places that may give their burlap bags away for free. Part of the fun of this project for me is in finding creative ways to make a functional garden. Whether that is through making my own rain barrels, using an arborist for mulch, or locating free burlap sacks... I get a thrill from good deals and doing things in cost effective ways. I will update my progress as spring comes... seems so far away right now due to our 30 below days... but it is just around the bend.
Ben, Julie, and Amelia