Gardening is one of my favorite things about living here on our little homestead. I could go on and on about eating fresh organic vegetables straight from my back yard along with taste and nutritional benefits, but I must be honest.
I like to play in the dirt!
It is true. All summer long, my hands are calloused and dirt stained. Manicures? Not here lol I become excited at each little sprout, flower, and vegetable. I enjoy the entire process from planting through harvesting and preserving.
Planning my garden while the ground is buried under a foot of snow gives me hope and something to look forward to. My kids work beside me planting and caring for the garden and in turn learn patience, responsibility, and a feeling of pride knowing that they are contributing to the family.
Now that I’ve told you why I love my garden, I must turn a negative note on this otherwise happy post and tell you of my struggles. Weeds, rabbits, insects, and chickens.
This year I made some changes and thought I’d show you how it’s going.
Raised Beds-My New Plan
I built raised beds 8ft x 4ft and 22 in high. I love them. They are easy to work in and have kept the weeds down and rabbits out. The two smaller boxes in front are flower beds and I plan on building a trellis between them for a grape vine.
Raised Beds and Newer Heights
I have always had sort of a sprawling garden. I planted directly into the ground and allowed cucumbers, squash, and pumpkin to grow where ever they desired. With the new beds, I have dramatically reduced the amount of garden space. This was good because scaling it down is much less work, but it also meant my vine plants had nowhere to travel.
I built trellises out of last year’s sunflower stalks. They look rustic and charming.
Cucumbers were my experiment with a trellis and it worked wonderfully. Next year I will build them for the squash and pumpkin also.
(Sorry that this photo is a little dark. I’m getting a new camera soon so hopefully my pics improve!)
One of my other changes was that I grew pole beans this year rather than bush since my space was limited. I underestimated these awesome little climbers and my sunflower trellis crashed. Next year I will go with the tepee style that I used with the cucumbers and will dedicate an entire box to green beans.
Tomatoes are growing beautifully in the raised beds. I managed to squeeze early girls, romas, and grape tomato plants into one bed. Unfortunately, my hens have developed a taste for tomatoes (darn birds!) and have been pecking and scratching so I have suffered some loss. However, with that exception, they flourished and I have plenty to make my favorite soup!
I want to add here that I kept the lower branches pruned to allow airflow and prevent blight. I also staked them and as you can see in the photo, some of them are too heavy and are bending the stakes.
The verdict is still out on how my carrots are doing in the raised beds. Micah is bugging me to pull one to see how they are doing, but I’m insisting we wait another month. Fingers crossed that we have long rainbow colored roots getting fat under the dirt!
You might enjoy this wonderful series about homeschooling in the outdoors by Minnesota Country Girl
Do you need a good recipe to use up an abundance of garden zucchini? Check out this super easy kid pleasing bread!