This Spring I will not have a vegetable garden. Our new home has lots of flower beds and landscaping around the property, so I’ll still get in plenty of gardening. I enjoy being outdoors, and plan on taking Gavin outside on pretty days so we can enjoy our yard.
Originally, I thought about doing a small vegetable garden, but we have so many other projects to work on, I think it would be better to wait a year. Plus, if I wait, I can put more thought into the layout of the garden… like where to put it, how large to make it, how much to plant, how to keep it protected (fencing, etc.), and the watering system. I’ve spent some time looking at beautiful gardens on Pinterest and other websites to get ideas. I have a rough idea of what I want, but I haven’t drawn it out and made final plans.
On the bright side, we are fortunate to have several local farmer’s markets, so we’ll be able to get fresh veggies from them. I still have a few grape vines – we dug them up and brought them with us from the old house. They’re in large pots, and hopefully they’ll make it until we get them in the ground. I also have a couple of herbs in small pots, so we may have fresh herbs.
This week I got our vegetable gardens cleaned out and planted. This year’s garden is a bit different than last year’s because I didn’t start anything by seed this Spring. We recently took a two week vacation, and the weather was still a bit too cool to plant vegetables before we left, so I planted things a few weeks later this year than last.
One raised garden bed has herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, chives, oregano, dill, mint, cilantro, and basil), strawberries, and cucumbers. The other raised bed has asparagus, bell peppers, jalapeños, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes.
Raised Bed 1
Sweet Basil (1 plant)
Onion Chives (1 plant)
Peppermint (1 plant)
From last year (1 plant)
Straight Eight (4 plants)
Quinalt (2 plants from last year) and Loran (6 plants)
Raised Bed 2
Green (4 plants), Red (4 plants), Yellow (4 plants)
We are located in Zone 8b on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – that means our average annual extreme minimum temperature is 15°F to 20°F (-9.4°C to -6.7°C). The plants we grew were suitable for our East Texas weather, and were vegetables that we liked and would eat. Most of what we planted did well this year. The only thing we didn’t get much of was the strawberries. We only had a few, but Belle seemed to find them before me. Also, we didn’t have asparagus this year since it takes a couple of years before producing. The plants that grew best in early summer were dill, radishes, spinach, and squash. The plants that grew best in mid-summer were cilantro, cucumbers, onions, and oregano. The plants that grew best in late summer were parlsey, jalapeño peppers, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes.
I spent the morning weeding my vegetable gardens and around the grapevines. While tending to the gardens, I got to thinking about how much I enjoyed them this summer. Throughout Spring and Summer we had a variety of fresh vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, zucchini, yellow straightneck squash, radishes, onions, and herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, oregano, mint, and rosemary).
Our gardens ended up doing better than I thought they would, but we did have a couple of problems arise:
1) a watering issue (our automatic watering system wasn’t working properly and has since been repaired)
2) pests on a few of the vegetables, namely the cucumbers and squash (zucchini and yellow straitneck)
The watering issue did ultimately lead to the end of our squash plants, both the zucchini and yellow straitneck. The pest issue was resolved by removing the most damaged plants and spraying organic (homemade) pesticides on the remaining plants. Also, when we went out of town for a couple of weeks, the potted herbs (basil, mint, and rosemary) didn’t survive – guess they didn’t get enough water while we were gone.
We still have bell peppers and jalapeño peppers growing, but the rest of the garden has been cleaned out and I planted a few vegetables to try for a Fall/Winter garden. Since we’ve had some success with our gardens, I hope to plant even more vegetables next year.
We finally got around to getting our grapevines in the ground a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this year we got three Black Spanish, or Lenoir, grapevines from Enoch’s Stomp, a local winery. They grow this variety of grapes, along with a few others. Apparently, Lenoir grow well in the East Texas climate. I’ve never grown grapes, so this will be a new experience.
To build the area for the grapevines, we used three cedar fence boards we already had, some wire (approximately 24-feet), a few bags of mulch, and two 10-foot cedar border fences I purchased at Lowe’s. First, we (by that I mean Michael) dug holes for the fence boards. Once they were in place, I planted the three grapevines and stapled the wire to the back of the fence boards – hopefully it will stay in place to train the vines. I put mulch around the area to keep it looking nice and placed the border fences around the whole thing. So, not sure how well we will do with growing grapes, but for now it looks nice.
We recently added a cover to each of the raised garden beds. I had started seeing birds in the garden, and since everything is planted, I didn’t want the birds and other critters eating the seeds and young plants. In an earlier post about how we built our raised beds, we had secured 8-inch-long, 1-inch-diameter PVC to the inside of the garden beds. To make the hoops, we used 10-foot-long, 1/2-inch-diameter PVC and placed it in the secured 1-inch PVC. Then we placed a wildlife netting over the hoops. This structure is temporary and can easily be taken down. Also, the netting can be swapped out with plastic or frost blankets, if necessary.
The wildlife netting keeps the birds out, and my little garden is safe for the time being. We are considering putting a short fence around each bed. We have rabbits in the neighborhood, and are waiting for them to discover this garden. Once they do, the wildlife netting will probably not be sufficient to keep them out… so, we may need a more permanent solution (i.e., a fence). Hopefully, this hoop system with netting will keep all critters at bay for a while.
Spring is almost here! It’s time to get the garden ready, so we recently built two 4’x8′ raised beds to get our vegetable garden started.
Supplies for one raised bed:
Two 4-foot-long 2″x8″ cedar boards
Two 8-foot-long 2″x8″ cedar boards
Four 8-inch-long 4″x4″ posts
Sixteen 3 1/2-inch wood screws
Twelve 1 5/8-inch wood screws
Six 8-inch-long 1-inch PVC pipe
Six 1-inch galvanized pipe straps
One piece of 4’x10′ chicken wire
Two 8-inch C-clamps
Our total cost for the two beds was about $280.00 (including taxes). We splurged on cedar, so that ran the cost up higher. Also, we had to buy all the wood screws, pvc and straps, chicken wire, and soil, so if you already have these things, the cost would be lower.
First, we had 12-foot boards cut at the store to measure 4-foot-long and 8-foot-long. Since we don’t have a truck, fitting a 12-foot board in the vehicle was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, Home Depot had a wood cutting area that cut the boards to our specified lengths. So, we purchased the 12-foot cedar boards and had them cut.
We used C-clamps on the corners to hold the wood pieces securely while drilling the holes for screws and screwing the boards together. We made an 8-inch deep raised bed, so we used 8-inch 4×4 posts in the corners. While browsing the internet for ideas, we saw some people extended the length of the 4×4 to anchor the bed to the ground; however, we decided the bed would be anchored enough by filling it with soil. Also, some people forego the use of 4×4 posts altogether, so it seems whatever works for you, go with it.
Once the frame was together, we stapled chicken wire to the bottom of the bed. We have a mole problem in our yard, so we wanted some type of barrier on the bottom to prevent a mole issue in the garden. Hardware cloth can also be used, but we opted for chicken wire. The 4-foot wide roll fit perfectly. The roll of chicken wire was for 50-feet, so we had plenty left over… maybe we’ll use it for another project.
We also attached 8-inch pieces of PVC to the longer sides of the beds. This will be used to form a frame for netting to prevent birds and wildlife from getting into the beds. We bought a 10-foot piece of 1-inch PVC and cut it into six 8-inch lengths to place around the interior of the bed (3 PVC posts per side). We hope to use 1/2-inch PVC to form the frame. We bought some 1/2-inch PVC, but haven’t built a frame yet, since it’s not necessary right now. I’ll add a new post once we have the frame finalized.
Once the raised bed was assembled, we layered cardboard in the bottom. Then soil was added to the bed. To fill an 8-inch deep 4’x8′ raised bed, 22-cubic-feet of soil was needed. We opted to create a soil mixture containing 60% top soil, 30% compost, and 10% peat moss. That came to seventeen 40-pound bags of top soil, eight 40-pound bags of compost, and two 40-pound bags of peat moss per bed. We also added a bag of chicken litter from my parent’s chicken coop and some crushed eggs shells to the mixture. Overall, we ended up with a pretty healthy looking mixture.