A Tiny Garden
Patio Rail Garden
This little garden is only 2″ deep, it was built by adding wood onto a rail and putting a few drainage holes (drainage is very important because plants breathe too, carbon dioxide during the day and actually oxygen at night).
It’s been very dilapidated at times, very groomed, very empty and very full, in a lot of ways you can tell my wellbeing from this patio garden. Right now it has wild flowers (above left), organic seascape strawberries (above right), a lot of peas my son picked out that will add nitrogen to the soil (they can take it out of the air).
The garden is very small, but one of the most troublesome actually, reason being it always needs to get watered and the outdoor plants often get watered by the rain, also a ton of slugs go on out patio with or without any plants (I never knew why they were attracted to our railings so much before any plants were there). But I still really like the patio garden anyways, a lot can fit there, like the bonsais, moss, wildflowers…
A Small Garden
Four (Home Depot) Bucket Veggie Gardens
This garden is made of 4 Home Depot buckets, it does have a frame my dad made and kind of has irrigation, but I don’t use it because it doesn’t water evenly the plants I have now.
This garden has the original tomato plant I had the first year we moved here, it’s babies at least, the first plant got over grown in the front garden (and covered with slugs), I tried to move it and it survived, but didn’t like the low light, somehow it adjusted to the low North facing light and is thriving now… tomato actually likes dry soil, so in these beds that get no rain (under the eves) they did better than in the Square Foot Garden. I guess you never really know, everyone will tell you the South is better than the North, but really, you don’t know what works without trying new things and looking at reality.
The garden is a great size, it’s not really harder to deal with than the tiny one and it can produce a lot of edibles. I would recommend this size and set up for new gardeners, enough to have fun (and pay for), but not too much to control (if you want to), kind of just right for a beginner or someone busy with other things. Mine has tomato, avocado, potato, in the future sweet potato.
A Hill of Wheat
Wheat, Wheat Grass is actually Wheat, It’s Illegal to Produce at Home in the US, But Not to Grow for Yourself.
This is the “back” of the garden… it doesn’t have soil naturally, just sticks… To make soil I’m growing wheat, the wheat will make straw, the straw will become soil (with some compost mixed in). So this year sticks, this fall straw, perhaps next spring soil.
This is just a hill covered with sticks… I found a bag of unused wheat grass seeds and decided to plant wheat rather than just leaving the seeds as unused clutter. Wheat grass is one of the easiest things ever to grow, it grows at smoothie shops indoors, or on paper towels, or in a Tupperware, or in foam, basically on anything, including this hill with no soil. I was surprised wheat grass is wheat. Rebranded, same seed.
I did have to cover the seeds with weed cloth I already had left over from the Home Depot Bucket Garden, I don’t think I needed weed cloth in the buckets, but I didn’t know how much soil would fall out without it… not much if the drainage holes are small. So I covered, uncovered and watered, everyday for a week and than just left it alone when the seeds were not showing anymore (since we have had rain). So, one week of hard work watering by hand and no work at all since then. I kind of love the way it moves in the wind. Kind of want to put in more, but trying to take care of what I have before I buy anything more to do…
A Play Farm Next to A Play House
This is the playhouse farm, we were not using the space so I wanted to give my daughter more room to experiment with, but since she is 5 she didn’t start planting it, I think once I plant something she will want to change it up and gradually take over.
There is a small onion bed and small carrot bed both doing very well, a hill right behind the playhouse for pumpkins to form our own little pumpkin patch and a little playhouse next to a chicken coop. It’s a decent farm for a child. Along the edges of the designated space are beans (with the large spade shaped leaves). The local pheasants ate some of the beans clean off, but since we don’t eat a ton of green beans anyways, it wasn’t a huge loss.
Next to the play house window sweet pea flowers are growing (slowly), along the “road” to the front door corn flowers (bachelor’s buttons), at the boundaries of the “property line” (of the playhouse’s farm) are Mexican Sunflower cuttings (the first leaf just came in).
Waldorf Outdoor School
The Net Keeps My 2-Year-Old from Running Off
This is where I like to have outdoor school inspired by Charlotte Mason, it’s not fancy, but someday I hope it’s at least charming.
I planted clover into the “not really soil” we have on the East Half of our half acre home. The clover is just starting to sprout. I didn’t protect it from birds with weed cloth, but I did water it super well the first two days, and I did water it for the first four days after planting, I think that will make a difference. Soaking it in lets the seeds be a little bit under the dead leaves, so that the birds didn’t eat as many. We have Zebra doves that will take every seed of the seeds that they prefer…
Because I’m a farmer now.
The Watermelons I guess, are my cash crop this year… my Home Depot trip this spring cost $30… so if I can grow more than $30 of watermelon, I will in my own head, be a successful farmer.
The seeds germinated very well in a warm but not hot plastic green house (torn so thus not hot), the started in 2″ pots with vermiculite and old peat moss soil, not very fertile or fancy, but just fine. I kept the seeds watered everyday this year, something hard to do… I wanted to give up after a few days of not seeing anything happen, but I didn’t and a week later they came up. The seeds were all mixed up in the same pot, once one sprouted well I took it out to another pot left over from Papayas a few years ago… It’s stressful for the seedlings, but the roots are very large and strong so watermelon in particular can handle that. I moved them into a sunny place pretty early on, now something keeps knocking them over… I think feral cats. And perhaps rats are eating them a bit, a few two leaved sprouts only have one leaf now… So I may move them all. I could have protected them with plastic cups until they are bigger, but I’m not sure if they will scorch like that… maybe I’ll try.
Just for fun.
Can you find the corn in each photo? It sure does look like grass, but it has that central stalk which catches a dew drop of water I couldn’t really photograph.
Some of these corn are grown with beans to fix nitrogen for them and some aren’t, later on I’ll compare the difference. This corn surrounds our front driveway, so when we drive up it will seem like “a real farm” kind of… my daughter is the most excited for the corn. As it grows I have her jump over it too see how long she will be able to do that. We don’t eat a ton of corn, but it seems like it will be fun to eat a little bit of our own “hopefully” this summer.
The New Garden
The front garden started with just corn next to the drive way, I used an empty tub for peas, then I decided on four new pots. The soil isn’t horrible and the pots don’t prevent pests, but I love being able to move my plants around to reconfigure the garden.
I used compost in the pots and it scorched the corn… (see the yellow leaves) not sure if I will do anything to fix it. Interestingly the strawberries don’t mind the high fertilizer load, the peas kind of mind, but the corn is uncomfortable.
Interesting to me at least… The strawberry had previously had the red and yellow leaves, it was kind of sun scorched in the greenhouse previously.
On the hill in the new garden are melon (cantaloupe, left), watermelon, artichoke and basil. Basil (top right) looks more like artichoke, but artichoke (bottom two) has pretty light green stripes on the medium green leaves.
Leaves As Mulch
This is My Daughter’s Watermelon (Not Mine)
One of the things my garden/farm needs is much more mulch. As a beginner I didn’t know about or use mulch at all, but it’s about time. Mulch prevents weeds, prevents some plant illness and visually makes gardening easier. It saves work by preventing work, which lets the energy go into plant care or get saved, so that it’s kind of a game changer (or so I think).
I don’t have a mulcher yet… thinking of buying one for about $120, but also thinking about a mini chain saw for about the same…
But I do have leaves. Which are good mulch. Some people don’t like the look of them, I kind of do like it. But I think I would prefer to get the mulcher to make garden paths that my family can recognize as garden paths and then still use the leaves directly around my spouts. I might use a bit of straw as well in the future, especially on the pumpkin hill or under the strawberries…
So, mulching is what in my opinion separates a novice and intermediate gardener and I’ll hopefully be entering that phase this year.
Square Foot Garden
This square foot has a Milo tree, two avocado tree seeds, peas, corn, beans, and a few carrots. My daughter stole those beans from my garden… I didn’t know whether to be sad she steals or happy she gardens. This is defiantly not officially recommended spacing, but it didn’t explode either. I was happy to see my daughter take over her own garden’s design and planting.
Trees in the Shade
These my daughter germinated, she stuck the seeds in a pot of soil, I watered it, I doubted it completely. It did germinate, so I potted the little trees in separate 2″ pots (they were all in one pot), then we bought them these larger pots.
I planted clover with them because I like to see something growing (the clover, you guessed it, fixes nitrogen thus a natural fertilizer). The sticks are to keep away wild chickens, there are tiny copper dish scrub pads cut into rings around the base of the trees to discourage slugs.
I was intimidated by trees before this, now I don’t see them as harder, but different than veggies. They are similar to start, a pot, soil, water, time, but move slower, which makes me loose interest and not want to water. So I add something like clover or an onion to give me a reason to water the pot as the tree sprouts.
Then they do well, but they seem to need a large pot sooner and then they keep growing, but slowly. It’s somewhat less exciting at certain time frames than veggies.
I’ll never eat these, since I don’t eat trees. And their larger pot will cost more… but I do like the idea of bonsai.
In A Small Green House
The greenhouse seems to be the hardest to keep clean, but that is where the magic happens as well.
This is my homework, if my gardens are haphazard, my greenhouse is a work hazard…
Morning glories, carrots, onions, pumpkins, Milo trees, melons, watermelons, basil, artichokes, waiting for me to plant them, thin them, give them individual pots, find them a spot in the semi shade, find them a bigger pot… figure out where they will go.
The cool thing about the greenhouse is that the plants grow better there, so the longer I procrastinate the better it is for the plants anyways… rare in life when procrastination pays off, but I do have to hand water the greenhouse since I messed up the watering system that was fine… so it costs a bit of watering to procrastinate.
I also have an aquaponic system that is a bit “all messed up,” we are going to visit a functional aquaponic farm tomorrow, so I wanted to mentally check in with the non-aquaponic gardens today before putting a lot of new information about aquaponics on my mind.
Sometimes when I garden I think about what’s left to do and forget to see the beauty in the flowers. Georgia O’Keeffe would slap me…
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”– Georgia O’Keeffe
Right now I have most the plants I’ve ever wanted to have and I spend so much time weeding, planning, setting up, watering, taking care of my kids, paying bills, doing paperwork, cooking, cleaning, wondering about the future, that I rarely ever SEE them there.
Hopefully by the summer I can slow down, something about spring in the garden makes it hard not to rush, to get as much out there in time for the sun before the shady seasons come. It’s never really cold in my garden, but we loose the sun for the fall and winter and nothing wants to grow then. So I rush to get the plants out… but I’d rather slow down and enjoy the morning glories, if I could find a way.