I learned quite a bit from my 2013 garden. The biggest lesson was weeding 17 garden rows was not fun! So for 2014 I put landscape fabric on almost every row. The 2 rows I didn’t use fabric, I planted corn and beans and immediately regretted not doing it. For this year I increased my garden beds to 34. On the main level of my back yard has 17 rows with each bed being approximately 3 ft wide by 15 ft long (they get shorter towards the far end of my garden). On the small hill going down to the main level I planted an additional 17 rows approximately 3 ft x 6 ft.In addition to those beds I have 5 raised beds on the side of my house planted. They are about 4 ft x 4 ft each. Also one row about 3 ft x 10 ft next to my gravel patio.
Despite having a small yard I have created a large space for a garden and now was the challenge of planting it. In the raised beds on the side of house I have some perennial herbs planted – Sage, purple sage, peppermint, spearmint, and chives. These were in year two of being there and they regrew without issue. Then a box of assorted herbs – thyme (my favorite herb), oregano, and marjoram. At the bottom I planted 36 Red Russian kale plants packed tightly in. These kale plants would be trimmed of outer leaves about every other day for use in salad. I found planting them closely together and cutting frequently kept them small tender for salad greens. At the bottom of the beds, at the base of our stairs into the back yard was my one 3 ft x 10 ft bed. I had grown strawberries in the bed the year before but I found I mostly just fed the birds so I took those strawberry plants out and put them in large containers. This year the bed was dedicated to my leftover tomato’s I started from seed but didn’t have space in the rows for. One tomato plant each of Pink Berkeley, Green Vernissage, Natures Riddle, and Purple Russian. The tomato’s didn’t do very well in this spot it is shadier then they like, I only got about 3-4 fruits off each plant but they are such nice heirloom varieties I didn’t mind.
Next on to my little slope beds. The new 17 beds on the slope were a bit of a challenge. Last year it was all grass and I couldn’t use the rototiller because the grade was to steep for it. My solution was just to plant in the grass! I mowed the hill as close to the ground as I could (I use a hand pushed mower) Then I laid landscape fabric down over the grass. When I planted a seedling I just tore open a small hole in fabric and dug out the top soil and loosened the soil as deeply as I could with a hand shovel. I put some organic seafood compost in the hole with the seedling and filled the hole with topsoil. I really had no idea how this would work when I was doing it but I can say now it worked great! The fabric kept the grass from growing up and the plants thrived. This is what I planted in these 17 beds…
- 6 – Cherokee Purple Tomato plants
- 4 – Ground Cherry plants
- 4 – Crookneck Squash plants
- 6 – Zucchini plants
- 3 – Golden Zucchini plants
- 6 – Yellow Pear Tomato plants
- 12 – Sun Gold Tomato plants
- 1 – Kelloggs Breakfast Tomato plant
- 2 – White Wonder Tomato plants
The only issue I had with these beds was not realizing the work it would take keeping up with the 18 cherry tomato plants (Yellow Pear and Sun Gold) . They produced far more little tomato’s then we could ever use for salads!
Next down to the main level of my garden. I had 17 rows. In the rows I used landscape fabric to control weeds around plants and in the pathways I laid down newspaper I soaked with water and hay on top of that to minimize the amount of weeding I would have to do anywhere in the garden. My first attempt at using newspaper to control weeds didn’t work so well. I didn’t lay it out all the way across path and weeds just shot up between the newspaper and fabric. On the second try I tucked the newspaper right under the fabric and that helped tremendously. In these 17 rows I planted…
- Yellow Eye Pole Beans
- Chinese Red Noodle Beans
- 8 – Sugar Pie Pumpkins
- 12 – Celery plants
- 8 – Lemon Cucumber plants
- 6 – Marketmore Cucumber plants
- 6 – White Cucumber plants
- 6 – Bush Pickle Cucumber plants
- 6 – Cayenne Pepper plants
- 6 – Jalapeno Pepper plants
- 6 – Poblano Pepper plants
- 2 – Golden Cayenne Pepper plants
- 18 – Northstar Green Bell Pepper plants
- 12 – Roma Tomato plants
- 12 – Jet Star Tomato plants
- Green and Purple Bush Beans
- 18 – Broccoli plants
- 6 – Fairytale Eggplants
- 18 – Red Cabbage plants
- 4 – Zephr Squash plants
- Lettuce – Roman Delight, Amish Deer Tongue, Red Sails
- Kale – Blue Curled Scotch
- Swiss Chard – Fordhook and Bright Lights.
The one thing I didn’t get into the ground this year I regret was potatoes. My seed potatoes rotted before I could get them in ground and I lost motivation for them after that. I got zero harvest from Broccoli, cabbage, and beans. Most of that is attributed to my arch-nemesis The Groundhog…
This SOB absolutely decimated a good portion of my garden in a few short days. 2015 will bring significant attempts to rid my garden of groundhogs and skunks. I watched a skunk walk right through my garden and start digging in my bean patch. I wasn’t sure if he was eating the bean seeds or the plants or after something else. I was on my porch and only 10 feet from him, I was too scared to move to try to figure out what he was doing!
In various containers throughout the garden I also grew Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Radishes, Beet Greens, Spinach, Dandelion Greens, Mizuna, and other lettuces.
My tomato, cucumber, peppers, squash, and salad greens harvest were amazing this year. I dived into canning tomato sauce, making refrigerator dill pickles, drying peppers and a lot of freezing.
Looking down from side beds at far side of garden
Looking down from side at near side of garden, The ladders support growing pumpkins.
Looking across the main level of garden.
Tomato plants caged and staked.
Tomato plant flowering.
Golden Zucchini’s growing.
Baby Blue Curled Scotch Kale plants.
This large cement, stone, and brick rock was our houses original back door step. It was uncovered when we took the deck out and replaced with gravel. It was set on this hill and was too heavy for me to move so it became a garden seat. Containers with Dandelion greens and Mizuna above .
Swiss Chard – my favorite new addition of 2014.
I was really happy with the garden expansion this year and I hope to expand a little more for 2015. I learned this year that just because you plant and take the time to grow your own food, it doesn’t mean animals will respect that it is yours! I have quite a bit of planning to do for 2015, I hope you will follow along.
Thanks for reading!