Friday, April 12, 2013

The Organic Garden Diaries- Part 1

The Organic Garden Diaries

Last year I did something I had wanted to do for a long time, our family joined an organic CSA. It peaked my interest when I happened upon the idea a few years ago and I finally bit the bullet and came up with the fee- it's a big upfront cost but ends up being very affordable when broken down weekly for the amount of fresh organic produce. I love the idea of supporting a local farm, knowing my farmers, the experience of being on a farm, basically the whole thing.
This year my husband and I couldn't make it happen but we were both inspired from all of the time spent on the farm to start our own garden so that's what we've decided to do.
When we bought our home almost four years ago one of the first things we added were 3 blueberry bushes. The first two years the birds beat us to them but last year we did a very primitive bamboo and bird netting structure and voila, we finally harvested our berries! Of course, between my two hungry berry lovin' boys, my husband and I barely tasted our fruit but at least I had homegrown organic goodness for the boys.

Our garden plan started coming together in February and here's our progress so far;

This year we upped our game and my husband built this 'Berry House'... awesome!! It houses our 3 mature blueberry bushes to which I've added two new bushes and about 22 surviving strawberry plants.
My Happy Place

I say surviving strawberries because the 22 were part of 50 bare roots (25 ever-bearers and 25 June-bearers) I ordered from Peaceful Valley- my new one stop shop for all of my gardening needs. The bare root strawberries and bluebrries arrived the same day my 5 year old came down with a nasty stomach virus. I was able to plant the blueberries immediately but the strawberries had to wait 3 days. As if they hadn't suffered enough we had a freak snow storm before they were established. I am excited that I have some survivors and am sure I will be adding more next year.
The berry house will double as a greenhouse when berry season is over by covering the structure which is currently covered in bird netting with greenhouse plastic. We will move the potted berry plants and bring in containers of yet to be determined edible plants.We may also build in some shelving.
Here are the lessons with the berries and berry house that we have learned so far;
We may change out the bird netting (next year) because the netting we chose is too small for the bees (and butterflies) to get through- I've rectified this by propping the door open during the day while I am outside- the bees go in and my berries get the benefit of a friendly bee visit.
I will be prepared next time I place a berry or plant order for the arrival because I don't want them to perish if I can't get to the store for the organic potting mix I insist on using. I will have some sort of mulch, straw or cover in case the weather gets too cold for my new transplants.

The raised bed;
We decided on what we wanted to plant- and trust me- this is hard. Not because I couldn't think of what to plant but because I had to reign in my desire to plant all of my favorites. I will add another garden bed next year and indulge even more but this year we certainly picked more than enough.
We started some tomato and pepper seeds the last week in February and I can't tell you how much excitement and pride I've gotten from watching our seedlings grow. It's a weird thing but it really does bring me a simple joy to see that I can grow something and hopeful this transpires into a thriving garden too. I've learned a few things- the tomatoes that were grown under a grow light in 2" peat pots have flourished where as the peppers that were left in the original seed sprouting tray in true sunlight did best. I sampled both methods for both seedlings. Next year the tomatoes get the grow light (and larger pots) and the peppers will get the sun. I also learned that I have to 'feed' my seedlings weekly once they sprout- the tomatoes started to yellow a bit in some of their leaves and the culprit was that I was not 'feeding' them. A simple diluted organic fertilizer was the key.
Peppers love the sun!

Creative Solution- aluminum foil and an aerogarden

My husband built our raised bed and I am finalizing our garden plan- I will be trying out square foot gardening with companion planting. I've been using the Grow Veg Garden Planner and it is FANTASTIC! Especially for a beginner but honestly this program is super easy to use and I doubt I will ever plan a garden without it.
Here is a look at our garden plan so far- I am still working it out, I put plants to the side that we are growing outside of the raised bed, that way they are included in my planting plan.

Our spring garden

Today was a rainy day so I utilized it to finalize our garden plan and think about how to utilize the nice weather this weekend. When the weather permits I'm going to build our pea teepee (outside of the garden bed) and sow our peas :)
This is the pea teepee- photo credit- Joyful Toddlers
I need to finish prepping and building up our melon & pumpkin patch and top off/mix into our raised bed with some vermiculite. The raised bed has been filled with free compost from our community recycling center and some Omri certified peat moss.
Left- Canon at the compost pile, Right- Colt shoveling compost in our raised bed
I will also be planting a hedgerow of a native wildflowers and 'good bug blend' to help attract beneficial insects.
I am going to (strive to) keep up this series, a garden diary of sorts, full of our experiences, triumphs, failures, tips, thoughts and hope that you will follow along and maybe share some of your thoughts and experiences too.

post signature

1 comment:

  1. So very impressed

    Wish you the very best results. What a great presentation!