Hopefully the exclamation mark at the end of this blog title isn’t overly ambitious. We’ve gardened for several years (correction…we’ve “gardened” for years), but the last few have been pretty rough. Late frosts, swampy springtime, too hot summers, blight–you name it and we’ve lost most if not our entire garden in the past year or so to it. But, this year…this year will be different (or so I hope). We’re focusing on more functional gardening and landscaping to make our homestead a little more balanced and harmonic.
One of the biggest changes we’ve made this year is to install “greenhouse boxes” that can be used to start seeds earlier and allow certain plants to grow later into the year (or at least that’s the plan). My husband is quite the handyman, so once we realized we couldn’t afford a full-fledged greenhouse quite yet, he agreed to make me the next best thing for the garden. Thankfully, there’s plenty of random pieces of wood lying around the farm we live on, so really the only things that needed bought were the greenhouse plastic and corrugated plastic to put on top of the boxes for better support from our crazy climate here. We decided to make some of the boxes hinged as well for easier maneuvering, so hinges are included in the cost analysis as well. Below is a picture of the greenhouse boxes.
The two boxes in the front are attached to hinges which are attached to a separate, stronger piece of wood which is attached to the raised bed so that I can easily lift them up and down myself since I’m the head gardener. You can see the small props used to hold the boxes up. In the background are more boxes that can be used for more plants or for taller plants, but are a little more difficult to maneuver. (Unfortunately, we just had a freak but brief storm with high winds blow through and now our largest box is laying much further down in our yard than its original resting place. Eek.) Overall, I believe the boxes cost close to $300 to make–still a bit more than we would’ve like to have invested at this point, but hey…it gives us more incentive to really try to get things right this time.
One of the hinged boxes propped up.
The entire garden is surrounded by chicken wire which works great for keeping little veggie-munching critters out. Something different this year that I hope works out is throwing thyme seed down between the rocks of the walkway. Thyme is such a pretty ground cover and would be a functional, great tasting weed controlling option.
To help out the more shade-loving plants, we’ve built two supports to fit into two of the beds to allow peas to grow on one and cantaloupe on the other (I expect to have to construct little melon hammocks to help support the fruit). Underneath will be the shady plants. You can see the viney plant supports in the pictures below.
This support will be used for cantaloupe. Underneath we have planted arugula, parsnips, and red onions.
The pea trellis was made (all on my lonesome!) using an old chicken wire window from a barn that was torn down. It’s not exactly quality craftsmanship, but I’m just happy to still have all my fingers after hacking away at this. Underneath will be onions, lettuce, and carrots.
I also gathered some gorgeous, aged manure with a little straw and soil for mixing into the beds to help fertilize and break them up. The garden looks so much healthier now.
We also realized that our old cold frame would come in handy as a composter just off the back porch. The layout of our house is a little different, so the kitchen and living quarters are all upstairs, which means I can just walk onto the back porch now and drop my cooking scraps right into my new composter.
And if you’re a fan of Big Lots, they have some incredibly adorable pots that can be used for herbs or flowers. It was a good thing I was a little broke at the time I went into the store because I definitely would’ve bought every last one of them.
Aren’t they cute!?
Wish us luck for a successful harvest this year. Happy Gardening!