Friday, May 25, 2012

Our First Garden

Carl and I have wanted to have a garden for as long as we have been living together.  Carl grew up eating fresh veggies from his dad's garden and has very fond memories of it.  For the past few years we have been growing herbs and tomatoes in pots and really enjoyed being able to incorporate them in our summer meals.  Since this was our first complete spring in our first/new house, we decided to go big or go "home"!

Of course we don't do things simple around here.  You think we would have learned our lesson especially with the other bazillion half started projects we have going on right now but after much planning we were ready to execute our idea!

I'd like to consider my father-in-law a garden guru.  He has had gardens for years and there was even a time when he had three separate gardens at three separate locations going all at once. I really respect his advice and he let us in a little secret about a fantastic gardening book that has ended up being a HUGE help for us - Crockett's Victory Garden by James Underwood Crockett.  If interested, you can purchase a copy here.  This book is an oldie for sure, but definitely a goodie for any person wanting to learn more about gardening.

Carl drew up the plans (gotta love being married to an engineer) and worked with his dad on finding the best wood to withstand a lot of moisture and wetness.  We finally settled on hemlock and secured the proper lumber and hardware.  For soil, we ordered 6 yards of organic loam from our local independently owned nursery and garden center.

We decided to go with an above ground garden bed for a few reasons - the main one being the variety of woodland creatures that think our house is the hottest spot to chill this side of town.  Don't get me wrong - we are animal lovers through and through... but they really started to cramp our "style" last year.  Literally.

See exhibit A - this past fall:

Woodland creatures = very happy.... Nicole = not happy.

Once we had the design planned, we needed to figure out the dimensions.  We both had a lengthy list of things we wanted to attempt growing and knew it needed to be a whopper of a garden.  The final design ended up being 16x6 ft and stands 2 ft tall.  We also planted peas and cucumbers in a separate patch that is about the same size as our raised bed garden.

View from back deck

View from Driveway [front]

View from Side

Pea and Cucumber Patch [first planted]
Our final list of veggies/herbs we are attempting to grow is below.  I also included whether we started these from seed ourselves or if we purchased a starter plant.  I really want to track what was the most successful for us so that we can modify appropriately next year.
  • Thomas Laxton (early) Peas [grown from seed]
  • Calypso cucumbers [grown from seed]
  • Organic Relay Lettuce [grown from seed]
  • Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce [grown from seed]
  • Sardinia Spinach [grown from seed]
  • Scallions/Bunching Onions [starter plant]
  • Black King Eggplant [grown from seed]
  • French Breakfast Radishes [grown from seed]
  • Detroit Dark Red Supreme Beets [grown from seed]
  • Italian Dark Green Parsley [grown from seed]
  • Sweet Basil [grown from seed]
  • Cilantro [starter plant]
  • Dill [starter plant]
  • Oregano [starter plant]
  • Rosemary [starter plant]
  • Thyme [starter plant]
  • Trailing Tomatoes [starter plant]
  • Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes [starter plant]
  • La Roma II Red Tomatoes [starter plant]
  • Early Girl Tomatoes [starter plant]
  • San Marzano Tomatoes [starter plant]
  • Orange Blaze Peppers [grown from seed]
  • Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers [grown from seed]
  • Fat 'n Sassy Peppers [grown from seed]
  • Horn of Plenty (early bush crookneck) Squash [grown from seed]
  • Richgreen Summer Squash [grown from seed]
Clockwise from top left: Radishes, Spinach, Tomatoes x 5, Summer Squash Seedlings
So far - everything has been going great.  We started planting some of our seeds in small containers inside in early April.  This ensured that they had stable roots for transplanting and really helped us in the end. 

Transplantation of Homegrown Seeds
We had a few issues with some rabbits eating some pea seedlings from our ground garden patch but we set up some fencing and they haven't been a problem since. 

Peas Currently
Within the past week our radishes are finally fully grown and we had the chance to pick them and enjoy a few as a snack.  It was so exciting to eat our first garden veggie and we are both looking forward to when we can start eating the "fruits" of our labor! 

Transplanting Starter Herb Plants

Mapping/Raking Out Rows
I am hoping that we will continue to have success with our garden but I know better than to count my chickens before they hatch.  Until then, I'm keeping my fingers, toes and anything else that can be crossed - crossed!  Wish us luck.

I'll be posting updates periodically throughout the season so stay tuned!

NOTE:  Carl wanted me to note that we ordered our seeds from Veseys.  Veseys is a Canadian company that specializes in all things garden and has been in business for over 73 years.  My father-in-law has bought their seeds for years and swears by them.  He says it is very rare that you get lots of great germinating seeds in each packet and Veseys seeds have never failed him.  Our starter plants came from a local garden center in which we purchased a Groupon to - McCue's Garden Center.  If you are from Boston, I HIGHLY recommend paying them a visit.  Their plants were not only gorgeous, but VERY affordable and their employees were very helpful, polite and overall - outstanding.  We got all of our starter plants (see above) for less than $20 including the price of the Groupon.

Disclaimer:  Both Veseys and McCue's Garden Center have no idea who we are and we did not receive compensation for this post.  We just love their products and wanted to share our opinions and recommendations. Over and out!
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  1. Well I am VERY impressed! I'd love to have a garden as well, but living in the city really doesn't lend itself to garden-type activites. Maybe someday though. And I'll be certain to come back to this post for some inspiration :)

    xoxo, me

    1. Do you have an area where you could put a pot of assorted herbs? They are so easy to grow and you can put many different varieties in the same pot. Peppers and tomatoes are also incredibly easy to grow in pots.

  2. Brilliant!!! It's spurred me on to crack on with our garden. It's been a work in progress for 18 months! Phil has just made some compost bins out of wooden pallets but we really need a raised bed. I love yours. xx

    1. You'll have to let me know if you decide to make raised beds. Any questions... Just ask. They were easy to make and will last years! Best of luck!


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