Today was the first day that I felt like maybe….just maaaaaaybe Spring might be on its way. Maybe that Puxitawny Phil guy really is on to something? We shall see. I have been inspired over the past few days to bust out my garden plan and a few people showed interest in knowing what I was going to do, so I made it all purty for you. Below are some great links to sites I buy seeds from and other information about starting your own raised bed garden in a small space. I hope you find this post useful in your own gardening endeavors.
As you may have read in my About Me page, we sold our 20 acre farm in 2010. We lovingly tended that 120+ year old homestead for over 7 years. My husband and I were just talking today about that transition from city-slickers to farmers and how it changed our lives and relationship for the better. Selling it was bittersweet, but we had reached our limit when it came to the necessities of owning a home and property that old. Which is a nice way of saying it was a money pit and our money tree croaked. Anyway, we sold the old farm and upgraded to a 1912 craftsman on a double city lot in town. The photo above was taken right when we moved in. Lots of grass. Lots.
Since 2010 we have added 6 raised beds that are 4’x12′ in size. We used 2x8x12 lumber that is not pressure treated. You may ask “why would you do that, it will just break down faster?” You’re right, but I chose not to use the pressure treated due to the fact that it’s injected with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which is a wood preservative that will detour fungus and insects. Sounds alright, but arsenate means arsenic. No thanks…not near the food I want to eat. So I go the route of untreated and plan that I will need to replace the boxes every 8-10 years. It’s worth it…in my humble opinion.
This past Spring, I commandeered the side of our driveway. It was a space that wasn’t being used for anything except weed propagation. My neighbor was sweet and gave me some extra raspberry canes he was planning on tossing so I started a small patch. I also added in a nice long row of strawberries. Nothing better than a sweet sun ripened strawberry to really get you in the summer spirit. That little feller in the pic above turned into the Venus Flytrap from Little Shop of Horrors. See below.
It just kept growing and growing and choked out 2 cantaloupes and 1 watermelon in the process. It’s a pumpkin that I started from seeds I saved from our farm days. We somehow made a hybrid and so we named it the Mac Daddy Pumpkin. This past year it turned out that it lived up to its name. They were enormous – 3 of them were over 100 lbs each. Crazy big!
They were a lot of fun to grow and tend, but this year we are devoting that much needed real estate to corn, peas and flowers. (See the graphic up above) Enough about that…let’s get to the goods. The seed companies.
Seed Companies – some of my faves to buy heirloom seeds from
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – this catalog is big, glossy and filled with drool worthy photos. The seed selection is top-notch and the company is a small mom & pop & daughter shop.
- Seed Savers Exchange – Looking for super rare seeds? SSE has you covered. Members can donate seeds to the bank that have been saved by Aunt Mable for 50 years which could end up for sale in the catalog. They even have seeds that were carried over the Trail of Tears.
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds – No Hybrids – it’s on their header (and I’m a firm believer in heirlooms only). I love getting Annie’s catalog in the mail. It’s small but it’s loaded with seed varieties.
Organic Fertilizer – not just poop
- Sea Magic – this will be your secret weapon in the garden. 1 cake will last you all summer long, if not longer. I have been using it for several years and I’m a firm believer in this magic seaweed juice. I suggest buying a Miracle Grow sprayer and toss the blue gunk in the trash, then fill it 1/4 full with the diluted Sea Magic, hose down your garden and watch it send you thanks with it’s abundance. It really is amazing stuff.
- Micro-Ag Natural Organic Fertilizer – if you can get your hands on this tiny box of amazing, do it! It’s $10 for a bitty box, but it will last you for eons. My orchids love a good feeding of the diluted seaweed granules. If you live in the PacNW – check Northwest Seed & Pet. It’s a small brown plastic box with a white sticker. Make sure to save me one.
- Make Friends with a Farmer – this is the best medicine for the garden. Good ole rotted manure. Make sure that you buy it well aged or it could be too hot for your garden and burn everything in site. Aged Poo = Good.
Seed Starting – grow your own
- There’s nothing more gratifying than filling a tray with soil, popping in a tiny seed and watching it emerge from the dirt. I carve a space in my basement where I start my own seeds on heat mats under grow lights. Here’s what you need:
- Heat mat – baby seedlings love having warm toes. Starting your seeds on a heat mat makes them grow big and strong in a much faster time frame.
- Let There Be Light – You can get all fancy pants with it and buy a grow light from the garden store, or you can hit up the hardware store and go cheap. Shop lights can run as little as $12 and make sure to head to the light bulb department and pick up some grow light bulbs while you’re at it. One stop shopping that won’t kill the wallet.
- Cell Planting Trays – these babies are available everywhere. You can go fancy like the ones here from Park Seeds or you can hit up the home improvement store and buy them. I prefer either cheap plastic ones or the fiber pots that can be directly planted in the soil.
Well I think I’ve given you a good idea of how I garden. I’d love to hear about yours and what you’ve got planned for this coming growing season. Tell me in the comments below.