We started our first garden in the spring of 2011. We live in Maine so our spring would be what most of the country considers the start of summer. Coming from having zero exposure to gardening and food growing our first 10×10 plot was a major undertaking. It took us 2 hours to realize hand digging new garden beds in a weedy backyard was not the smartest thing to undertake. Day two was when I learned what a rototiller was!
Our first 10×10 garden had 12 (yes twelve) tomato plants, 4 zucchini plants, and a handful of herb seedlings in it. As anyone who has ever seen a tomato plant before could guess this small plot quickly became a jumbled mess of vines all growing together. Lesson two was learned – plant spacing guidelines are created for a reason! Tiny seedlings grow into large plants.
The following years would bring plenty more lessons, the main theme of those lessons being i didn’t know a damn thing about growing quality food. Weeding is not fun even if you enjoy gardening. Mulch your plants, create permanent walkways, good organic compost is a gardeners best friend.
We do not put any chemicals in the garden and we grow as naturally as possible. Our soil is heavy with clay and we have worked every year to improve it by adding a rich organic seafood compost in spring before the beds are planted. We till in leaves from the yard that were spread over the garden in the fall to blanket the ground and worms from our winters.
In 2014 we undertook a pretty large expansion. The garden will soon include most of our backyard. We have 35 permanent beds. 17 are about 3ft by 15ft, 17 more are 3ft by 6ft and one is 3ft by 10ft. Another 5 raised 4×4 beds and about 20 smaller containers give us around 1200 square feet of planted space. In addition to that we have around 20 raspberry bushes planted, the majority of which will reach their 4th year of growth in 2015, and 3-4 bushes of each highbush blueberries and wild blackberries which have been woefully neglected and are on the project list for the upcoming year.
Teaching our kids about healthy foods – growing, preserving and cooking what we grow is a major priority for us and I hope our lessons will show others it is possible to do on a limited budget of time and money!
Thanks for reading!