This year I have created my first Pinterest-worthy vegetable garden. It’s far from perfect, but I justify referring to it in this way because of all the research, learning, planning, and serious effort that went into the final product. 🙂 I should say that, though I have been organically growing since I started gardening, I have come from the old school of tilling the ground and planting in rows. Over the cold winter months, however, I spent much time visiting blogs, listening to podcasts, collecting images and ideas on social media, reading books, and learning all I could about different methods of growing food for my family.
During this time I quickly came to the conclusion that there is not one technique only that will work for us. Instead, I was intrigued by varying types of ideas. Using a number of these this spring, I was able to create an aesthetically pleasing garden, planting a variety of vegetables in a limited space to feed my family. I believe it will be a work in progress as I implement different methods and varieties of vegetables over the next couple of seasons to determine what thrives, what veggies we really enjoy, and which methods produce best and make the most sense for us.
There are, as mentioned, a few ideas that I have begun to put into practice this year. One of those is vertical gardening. For the first time I have used a few different types of trellises: A bamboo tee-pee for climbing beans, a square cucumber trellis, and an a-frame for varying types of squash, under which I have also planted some more shade-happy varieties of greens such as lettuce and spinach. In addition, I am trying no-frame raised beds.
As most do, I planned and dreamed of what I would plant while waiting for spring to come. I poured over catalogs, bought my seeds, and was careful to look for organic and heirloom seeds only. I am very interested in food sources that will return year after year, or seeds that can be saved from season to season, having a proven track record for being hardy varieties and growing well in our area.
With my mind set on my first attempt at no-till gardening, I was heavily discouraged by our lingering winter weather with late snows, freezing cold, and frost that wouldn’t stop. I was wishing that I’d known more about no-till methods in the fall and had prepped the ground then for spring, but since I didn’t, I was confused about when to begin and missed the mark when I should have started laying something on the ground to start killing off grass and weeds before the weather turned. Before we knew it we’d gone from winter into summer-type weather without much of a spring, and the pressure was on to get all of my seedlings into the ground and we ended up tilling. We did add loads of peat moss, and I created no-frame raised beds, covered them in mulch, with fresh straw for walkways between the beds. I am hoping that this will do a good job of keeping the weeds at bay.
We were able to get a chicken wire fence around the garden to keep those pesky groundhogs and bunnies at bay this year, and I have employed many marigold and nasturtium flowers to repel them as well.
Large pots were put into use for the first time, as well, to stretch growing space, and I will also continue to plant seeds on varying weeks to stagger harvest times and keep food reaching its peak consecutively instead of all at once.
It has been several weeks and so far we have seen kale, lettuces, green beans, and asparagus. I am patiently awaiting other vegetables to start growing. The foliage looks great so far, so I am anticipating many types of squash, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries among many others healthy options for our family.