Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Gardens

I’ve had lots of questions from people about our gardens. First, we are not master gardeners. Second, I am more than happy to share what limited knowledge I have and Third, our garden is a work in progress, trial and error, hoping to do things better each year!

About our garden…

We have raised beds- one done one year and then we added the second one the following year. 2 “L” shaped, one “L” flipped so there is a square w/ 2 openings at the top and bottom. Each “L” is 2 cinder blocks high and are approximately 4
x16, and 4x8. They are 16 long so we can use cattle panels, they are 4 wide so we don’t have to step into the garden. They are 2 blocks high so we can plant root veggies. We have taken cattle panels and made arbors at both openings to help maximize the space, where we grew peas and then green beans, and birdhouse gourds which took over where the peas were. We also have a smaller, 1 block high strawberry bed and herb garden. 

Filling the beds: Bottom layer is dirt. Then a layer of compost and then bags of Hummert Grow Mix and Manure. We did the bottom half in just plain dirt b/c it gets expensive when filling the beds. If you don’t want to plant root veggies, you can get by with 1 block high and it would save on $$, or just do a portion of the garden 2 blocks high. Milo helped fill the gardens too.

The design and fill ideas came from Len Pense created this raised bed gardening concept. However, he doesn’t use any dirt. We only used dirt in the bottom to save $$. You can purchase his e-book, which now comes with DVD’s. He also offers classes throughout the year in Strafford, MO.

Square Foot Gardening
The really big thing we discovered was incorporating square foot gardening grids to maximize our garden space. I have a friend who has a small garden space, but he gets LOTS of produce by using this method. This method was developed by Mel Bartholomew and his website is

Pest control/Companion Planting
I planted marigolds in my garden, but I can see I need either more marigolds or just more/different plants. This is called companion planting. Attract the good bugs, detract the bad bugs. I don’t know much about it, but I did get a great book “Great Garden Companions” by Sally Jean Cunningham.

Soaker Hoses- this gets the water directly into the ground, not just randomly watering everything as we were doing with a sprinkler. I was surprised as how well they worked! However, the summer of 2011 was horribly hot- weeks on end of 100+ degree weather :( Here's to hoping for a better 2012 garden season!!

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