Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flea's Garden 2008

This years garden was planted shortly before Mother's Day. I built a raised garden from some landscaping timbers. I only have one of these now but next year I plan to build another one just like right next to it. I did a raised garden because our soil is clay and basically sucks.

I built the raised part so I would only have to remove so much clay and could back fill with nice soil. It took roughly 80 - 40lb bags of soild to fill the area I cleared. I also mixed in a bag or two of manure and a bag or so of potting soil as well.

This year my wife has started composting so I have been adding that "black gold" to the garden and mixing it around before I planted anything.

There are some pictures of the compost bin I built with some pressure treated 1x4's. Before I filled it with dirt I coated it with Thompson's Water Sealer to help keep it from rotting.

My wife saves all the organic waste we generate like egg shells, coffee grinds, onion skins, etc. Once she fills a coffee can it gets buried in the compost bin on one side. The next time she buries it on the other side and the cycle alternates like that giving the waste time to break down. You can see how black the dirt turns from all that organic goodness breaking down and being mixed around nicely. This system seems to be working very nice for us and I think we will continue in this fashion.

The garden consists of 10 tomato plants, 2 grape tomato plants, 2 cukes, 4 peas, 4 green beans and 1 watermelon plant. It's a little more crowded than I like hence the reason for the planned expansion next year. I love tomatoes and would like to plant more like 20 of those. I recently discovered canning and figure I can preserve any tomatoes we don't eat before they go bad so I am not worried about the 2 of us eating production from all those tomato plants.

We also planted an herb garden which for us is a first. We started off simply with basil, parsley and dill and we'll see how we fare with that before getting more exotic. I really do enjoy gardening. My grandfather had a small farm when I was growing up and I fondly remember walking in the fields and the HUGE sunflowers he would grow. He continued on a smaller scale when he moved in with us after my grandma passed. I definitely owe my green thumb to him and my mother who took great pleasure in giving away bags full of tomatoes to the neighbors.

If you have a small patch of land consider growing some of your own vegetables. It is a valuable skill to learn. You can supplement your food stores and most of all nothing tastes quite as good as something you have grown yourself.

NOTE: Some folks asked questions regarding pressure treated lumber and whether the chemicals will leach into the soil. I personally (read: my opinion) don't think it's major issue but here is a well written article to help you decide for yourself:

...that is all.

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  1. Great start Flea!

    Try reading Its a great book.


  2. Thanks 22...I check it out and maybe even add it to my book review list.

  3. Nice composost bin what the dimensions snd how many 1x4's if you don't mind telling I need to build one like that myself. I can relate to the high clay soil my place is the same. I have a small area that has some decent soil that I planted my mini garden in this year.

    But I did build a couple small raised beds on my place as well adding bags of topsoil and manure mixed together.

    As you the fresh veggies will be a nice addition to the food supply at home. Then just keep buying extra canned vegetables putting back in storage while you eat the fresh veggies.

  4. Scout...the dimensions are 37 and 1/2 long, by 22 and 1/2 wide. The bin is 17 and 1/2 high (5 - 1x4's butted against each other).

    I used scrap I had from another project so I don't know how many new boards it would equate to...I hate math ;)

    It's pressure treated wood and I coated it with water sealer and let it dry thoroughly before filling it 3/4's full of soil.

    I may get some gapping due to the wood shrinking but I think it will be ok.

  5. No concern about the toxins from the pressure treated lumber leaching into the soil?

  6. It depends..the wood I used contains no chromated copper arsenate (I believe that was discontinued for use by consumers a while back). There could be some leaching of other chemicals but there seems to be conflicting evidence on how much, if any of these chemicals are absorbed by the plants. It is a valid point you make though. Me personally, I am not concerned.

  7. An alternative, if you do become concerned, is to line the inside of the bed with plastic, just make sure you cut it a the bottom of the walls to leave the bottom open to the ground.

    Myself, for raised beds, I use concrete blocks stacked 2 high with a thin block used for caps. Half of them I bought, the other half were salvaged. They work well, because the beds are high enough that you can sit on the side as you plant and weed.

    Happy gardening.

  8. That is a very good idea (The plastic suggestion). I may just do that before I plant next year and for the additional plot I am building as well. I have seen some nice results using redwood and cedar as well although of course, at added expense.

    I like the concrete block idea as well because I do find myself hunched over or on my knees when I am weeding the garden currently. I don't have any I can salvage but if I can find some at a good price I may try that for the new plot.

    Great suggestions!

  9. I tried raised beds for a while, then abandoned it. Too much work if you raise a large garden, plus I can't get the tiller in them. I now use about 1/3 of an acre of space.

  10. You don't need to till a raised bed, because the ground doesn't get compacted (no one is walking on it). I combine raised beds with the square foot gardening technique to make the most use of the space and limit weeds. I still plant in the ground, but for stuff with short growing cycles (radishes, lettuce, etc.) where I need to harvest and re-plant, raised beds are worth it. For veggies that take the entire season to grow - I plant in the ground.

  11. I have to agree. I have never tilled my raised gardens. I usually hit them with the hoe and rake just to clean them up and remove any debris then plant. Usually only takes a few minutes...

  12. Just sent you an e-mail with pics.

  13. said that "he" combined raised beds with squarefoot gardening...
    I watched a show on Discovery channel "before they split up the programming to different channels" called "Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening". He has his own website: .
    He also has a couple of companion books for the show:
    Square Foot Gardening (recently revised)
    Cash from Square Foot Gardening (which gives further details on some plants.)
    As I am currently residing in a motel efficiency, I do not have the room for ANY type of container garden.

    Just thought you might like to check it out.