When we lived in the country, I had a lovely big garden that I worked very hard on. The last year I was able to do it I was really getting the hang of it, and grew lovely big tomatoes and squash and herbs and really enjoyed myself. But then I went back to work full time.
Eight years later, we no longer live in the country, but I still want my garden. One constant problem in our current backyard is the plum tree. It produces a bumper crop of plums every year, and the ones that fall on the ground get eaten by the dogs, who also chew up the pits, which are bad for them. So after surrounding the plum tree with a dog fence for a couple years, we finally put up a proper fence around it.
And I thought, hey, this looks like a good place for a garden! So last year I did a little raised bed and put cauliflower and kale in it, and the aphids and slugs ate it up. I did a few tomatoes and basil in pots as well, and that was more successful. So this spring I decided to really go for it. I’ve always wanted tall raised beds so I wouldn’t be on my hands and knees weeding. But in order to have a nice garden in spring, you have to start well before that, by planting seeds in February.
I started out by spending early winter watching videos on YouTube, my favorite channel being The Rusted Garden . I find him very relaxing to listen to, and he makes it seem easy, gives simple instructions, and basically doesn’t add a bunch of drama to it. Just good, straightforward advice, and he’s even in the same planting zone, though on the other end of the country, so his advice on timing is pretty accurate for this area too.
I ordered seeds for a modest garden from Territorial Seeds, as I always did for my country garden. They are in Oregon, so I know they will sell stuff that works in the NW, and I’ve always had great success with their seeds (not so much with the usual garden center seed packets, those have generally been very hit or miss in germinating).
A month later, I was thinning them out and moving them into dollar-store pots.
Next thing you know I was taking them out for visits to experience the wind and the sunshine, but bringing them back in if it got too breezy or chilly.
So, this experiment was going well, time to get the garden in order. The garden area was covered in failing weed barrier. I want my raised bed plants to be able to reach down to the soil if they want to. So I pulled up the weed barrier where the beds are going. I also thought I would put a little shed in there, but once I spaced out the footings for an 8 ft shed, it was going to take up the whole garden 😦
Chives went in pots, broccoli went in the existing bed, and we tore down the old arbor in the yard and temporarily piled it in the garden so the dogs wouldn’t get stuck on the nails in it. That sort of felt like we were going backwards for a bit.
And those tomatoes and peppers just kept getting bigger! I planted six of each type I wanted to grow, and didn’t expect them ALL to do so well! I picked my favorites and potted them up, and offered free tomatoes to all my friends. This is mid April. Maybe next year I won’t start the seeds until March!
I built raised beds out of 2x4s and cedar fence boards. I know they won’t last forever, but if I like them, I figure I can make them sturdier later. I filled them lasagna style – straw, grass clippings, old leaves, more grass clippings, dirt from the other side of the house, and finally 6 cubic yards (4 bags) of raised bed soil.
I should mention I had lots of help throughout the process.
Our yard bloomed early with Deadnettle, Grape Hyacinth, and some bulb I call bluebell. The fruit trees were blooming and the yard was alive with birds and bees and friendly bugs. I wanted to encourage this, so I just left it alone and enjoyed it!
Navi was doing a bit of rototilling over by the apple tree to take care of our mole problem. She got two of them!
They also followed me into the garden one day and caught a baby rabbit that was hiding in the Rosemary bush. Barclay caught it and let Navi have it and she ate the whole thing (ugh!) They will never forget that, and are always hoping to find something else hiding in the garden, so they are not allowed in there anymore.
Finally we had a late last frost in early may, and a week later things looked safe to put my little friends in their new home! Two of the big heirloom tomatoes and one cherry variety here with two mini bell peppers, two more cherrys, a pepper, and a slicer in pots near the patio.
Then I mowed the Deadnettle when it was done blooming, and the yard looks great! All the clippings went into the next raised bed, where I topped it off with raised bed soil, and planted greens. I know it was a little late for cool weather crops, because we started getting hot temps, but I wanted to try. Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Spinach, and Radishes.
The pots by the patio were looking good, and I added pots full of parsley, cilantro and basil seeds.
About this time I realized the water by the house was a LONG way from the garden, so I looked online and found a used rainbarrel setup. This way I can fill the barrel every few weeks, and water out of the barrel.
I added a third big bed for beans and cucumbers, and I will build a trellis for those, so I thought they could share a bed and a trellis. Then three low beds for squash, since they will need room to spread out. Zucchini, Butternut, and Acorn. I also mulched all the beds and pots with pine shavings.
I added some flowers outside the garden gate for color. Those pots inside have a bunch of different herb seeds planted, but they are slow to come up.
The tomatoes are doing great, but I read that Marigolds and Basil are good companions, so I added some marigolds, and a couple different varieties of Basil in the bed.
And that’s about it for spring. We are definitely heading into summer now (despite the monsoon rains we got the past week, with temps significantly cooler than the previous week which was in the 90s). The tomatoes are covered in flowers this week, and a few little tomatoes have started forming. It’s really amazing to see food growing from plants I started from seeds! It’s like a little miracle every time.
Nothing to do now, but kick back and enjoy our patio.