Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Less Lawn

The old primary garden from back in the day
After many years away from the perils of home gardening, team Two Adventures has decided to jump back in, this time on a slightly smaller scale and slightly more sophisticated. Years back we got into gardening in a big way. It started out small but over the span of a few year grew to include one 20x30' garden as well as a secondary 10x20' plot. Our primary crop was potato though we also grew squash, radishes, tomato and various other things.

We never had great success with much of anything, save for the potato, green tomato and summer squash. Neither of us are huge fans of summer squash and there are only so many things that you can do with green tomato. The potato was good though and kept us from having to buy almost all fall and winter. We also used the remnants as seed for the next season.

Alas, our passions changed and we bought a vacation house in Maine, which sealed the deal on the garden. Simply no time for the nearly constant upkeep of a traditional garden, what with the weeding, watering and all and so we raked the gardens back over and planted of all things, grass. Nearly every season without fault since then we have looked longingly at other folks gardens.

New raised bed garden space
With the nearly persistent reminders discreetly coming from a MTBing Facebook friend I finally decided to dip a thumb back into the soil and see what we can get. This time though we went above ground, with a small and controlled raised bed system. Last week I put together three raised bed borders out of simple pine 2x8's with a pine strapping rail on the top to dress them up a bit. Each bed is 32x96x8" and is held together by simple lag bolts at the ends. I had a whole bunch of Danish Tungoil from some furniture builds years back so treated the frames with that in order to help slightly weatherproof them, assuming that little bit of sealant wouldn't leach badly into the soil. Guess we will see.

We have a reasonably decent size lot at our house with a full half of an acre. Unfortunately there are few spots that get constant direct sunlight due to the number of trees that we have and of course, because of the shade cast by the house. With that in mind as well as ease of watering, which we plan to do via rain barrels from the gutter down spouts on the back of the house, our choices were somewhat limited. We settled on a spot that was fairly close to the where the barrels will go and still gets a good amount of sun. The middle of the lawn gets the most but isn't really that practical. This will probably have an effect on what we grow but it is still a good compromise.

Sort of reminds me of coffins
Rather than dig a whole ton of sod in order to get to bare soil I took the easy way out. I chose to border edge the plot where the beds will go, mow the grass really low, put landscape cloth over the entire area then mulch it once the frames were back in. I then put a layer of peat moss down followed by a full yard of screened compost between the three beds. Once I have the rain barrels I will plumb a hose fed (manual) irrigation system and we should be ready to plant. We plan to do cucumbers as the cats can not get enough of them. I'm thinking that I will make a slanted wire mesh screen for them to climb up on one and of one bed and plant lettuce in the other end. We will also do winter squash, but are thinking about starting a small natural garden out back for that and just letting them go. Lastly, I think we are going to try potato in a hanging bag and see what happens.

Who knows, we may end up with nothing but at least it will mean less lawn to mow.

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