Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Gardening fascinates me. It seems like every year I learn just a tiny bit more about how to have a successful garden, and every year I realize just how little I really do know. But I love it and I always come back for more.

This year, I found a really awesome gardening tool online called Smart Gardener. It’s a totally free garden planning tool.  {And I’m just telling you this because I think it’s awesome, not because I have any affiliation with Smart Gardener.} I think the biggest thing I learned about our garden was the size!  I knew we had a big garden, but I had no idea that it was almost 700 square feet!  It’s no wonder I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the weeds.

Another thing Smart Gardener taught me is that certain plants aren’t compatible and won’t grow very well if planted near each other.  Luckily, I haven’t ever planted incompatible plants next to each other, but Smart Gardener planned our garden layout so we won’t accidentally do that.
This is my garden plan this year:

smart garden plan

We have five 4x8 garden boxes in front and the back one is 16x32.  Our little strawberry patch is on the far right and above it in the large box is our seriously struggling raspberry patch.  I’ve often wondered about abandoning the raspberries all together. I think I’ll give it a couple more years and see if I can figure them out.  The strawberries and raspberries are permanently there, but everything else changes from year to year.  We have a tricky gardening situation here. Southeast Idaho is in Zone 4 (with a final frost date of somewhere around the beginning of June. I’ve seen it listed on some websites as late as June 17th. And I have personally seen it snow several times in the beginning of June). In addition, we typically have strong winds come through our valley.  This year has been more mild than normal, but some years we’ve seen regular winds in excess of 40 mph.  That makes transplanting starts next to impossible!

This year has been a gardener’s dream.  The weather has been so beautiful and perfect. I normally don’t even consider planting until at least the last week of May, but earlier this week, we got a little bit of a head start. I always have the kids help with planting the corn and beans.

DSC_0972

I really tried to follow the Smart Gardener plan. I even got the measuring tape out to make sure everything was going in exactly the right place.

DSC_0978

Our dirt is like clay here. It’s not that it won’t grow plants, but it’s tricky figuring out how to water everything. And our garden is so big, there is no way I can afford to get the amount of compost the dirt needs. But, I did get some chicken manure and steer compost to mix in. Not nearly enough, but at least something.

I transplanted the artichokes, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Everything else I sowed as seeds in the ground.  Smart Gardener kind of laughed at me, in it’s own internet programming kind of way, saying that our growing season is too short to start the seeds directly outdoors.  I’ve had some years of luck and some not so much, so we’ll see how it goes.

One way help our fragile tomato starts is by building a little green house for them. These are so economical and simple to make.

DIY Greenhouse
We hammer in 4-foot pieces of rebar into the ground.
DSC_0979

I put 8 in total. Four on each side of the garden box.

Then, hoop a 12-foot piece of PVC over the rebar. It reminds me of a covered wagon of sorts.

DIY Greenhouse (2)

To keep the plants protected, we add painters plastic.  This year, I bought a roll that was 3.5 mm thick. If you get it too thin, the plastic will break down. Then we drape the plastic over the PVC hoops.

DSC_0983

We use 2x4s and screws to secure the plastic down to the sides of the garden box. But, that is to keep it in place when we have torrential winds coming through. I know some people who just use rocks to hold the plastic down and that seems to work if you have less wind.

With this protection, the beautiful plants on the inside have an easier time growing. I usually leave the greenhouses up as long as I can. Sometimes I don’t even take the plastic off until the end of July. Then again, we are in Zone 4.

DSC_0985

I’m excited to finally get our garden started! Gardening is one of my favorite things and I love all of the fresh veggies at the end of the summer. Here’s to hoping for a summer of mild temps and less wind (and hopefully a successful garden!).

Do you garden? Got any gardening tips or advice?



P.S. Did you know that I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?  I’d love to have you follow me there, too!


Linking up at: 
Sunday: Cups by Kim, I {heart} Naptime, Under the Table and Dreaming, It's Overflowing, Nifty Thrifty Things, My 1929 Charmer, Simply Klassic Home, Positively Splendid,   Monday: Sweet Ann Designs, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Skip to my Lou, The Life of a Not So Ordinary Wife, Craft-O-Maniac, Brassy Apple, C.R.A.F.T., The Gunny Sack, Polly Want a Crafter, Lines Across my FaceKeeping It Simple, Between Naps on the Porch, Be Colorful, Homemaker on a Dime, Sumos Sweet Stuff, DIY Showoff, Making the World CuterThe Delectable Home, DIY Home Sweet Home, Home Saavy A to Z, Mad in CraftsAsk Anna, The Girl CreativeCherished Bliss, Southern Hospitality, The Southern Institute,   Tuesday: The DIY Dreamer, Pincushion Creations, The Winthrop Chronicles, My Favorite Finds, Ladybug Blessings, A Diamond in the Stuff, Today's Creative Blog, Home Stories AtoZ, Tip Junkie, Sugar Bee Crafts, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Sassy Sites, Coastal Charm, Vintage Wanna Bee, The Thrifty Home, Not Just a Housewife, Homework, Uncommon,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Confessions of a Stay at Home Mommy, Crafty Texas Girls, Reasons to Skip the Housework, Newlyweds on a Budget, How to Nest for Less, Mommy by Day Crafter by Night, Chef in Training, I'm Topsy Turvy,Creatively Living, Tales of a Trophy Wife,  Wednesday: Cheap Crafty MamaHandy Man Crafty Woman, Lil Luna, Ginger Snap Crafts, Savvy Southern Style, Someday Crafts, Creations by Kara, DIY by Design, Southern Lovely, Oopsey Daisy, Domestically Speaking, Sew Much Ado, Let Birds Fly, Junk in their Trunk, White Lights on Wednesday, Night Owl Crafting ,Vintage Gwen, Lil Pink Pocket, Dragonfly Designs, Trendy Treehouse,   Thursday: House of Hepworths, Grits and Giggles, Shabby Creek Cottage, A Creative Princess, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Bear Rabbit Bear,   Friday: Just Us Four, Create. Craft. Love, Two Sasters, Happy Hour Projects,Tatertots and Jello, Homemaker in Heels, Little Inspiration, Craftionary, Little Becky Homecky.
  Lady Behind the Curtain,    Live Laugh Rowe, What's Cooking LoveMichelle's Tasty Creations, In the Old Road

16 comments:

  1. Wow you do have a big garden! I'm so jealous!! I live in the city and only have one bed to plant veggies in. I'm definitely going to be checking out that Smart Gardener site! I think it would help me get the most out of what little space I have. Thanks sp much for the great tip!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your gardens look great, I enjoyed seeing your green house idea.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great idea for a greenhouse!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love your garden. Very inspiring! I have a sloping yard and miss the flatness of northwestern Ohio where I grew up with a huge garden. But we still do what we can! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a lot of work! We've graduated this year from a single tomato plant to a 4x8 garden, so we'll see how that goes. I'm nowhere near your level.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice job! I've always wanted to do this on my raised bed... but now we just get a farm share and aren't growing any veggies this year. Good Luck I hope the harvest is bountiful!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, great post! You are inspiring many to garden, I'm sure. Never heard of Smart gardener but will check it out.

    Please come on over and join the garden party link up and share your great vegetable garden.:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your garden looks awesome. I have never been very good at gardening, but I keep plugging away at it, hoping I will do better now that I have moved to IL and have milder weather and rich black dirt instead of windy CO mountains and clay. The greenhouse is brilliant and so simple! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks for sharing it, maybe I will give it a try next year.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello I just wanted to let you know that I have mentioned your post on my blog. Hope you don't mind but if there is anything you would like removed, please let me know.

    Jennifer
    www.eatcraftsow.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have never really gotten into gardening but wow am I impressed. You have me inspired and who knows???? :D Maybe I can follow your progress this year and try it myself next spring. :D
    Thanks for sharing at BeColorful this week.
    pam

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love those mini green houses and the website! Great post and thanks for the tip!

    --Katie
    @ Creatively Living

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the Smart Gardener link!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That green house effect is a great idea. I think I might try that next year. I started tomatoe plants in February, and they are still very small because they ran out of root space. I think if I would have planted them outdoors earlier, they would have grown so much more successful, and I might have gotten tomatoes sooner. It looks like I might not get any now until the end of July.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I so need to do this! Your gardens look great, btw. I would love it if you would consider sharing this idea with some of my readers. I'm sharing a linky party with another blogger so it would be linked up on 2 blogs. Here is the link.
    http://intheoldroad.blogspot.com/2012/05/summer-recipes-and-all-stars-linky.html

    Shasta

    ReplyDelete
  15. How I wish I had a garden that looked this great... this is so awesome... I LOVE IT!!!
    Thanks so much for linking up with the ALL STARS BLOG BLOCK PARTY.... Hope to see you again this week....

    Carri
    simplydonewright.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! And I try to respond to every one. If you don't have your email connected with your account and you want a reply, just leave your email in your comment or email me shatziweb (at) gmail (dot) com.

ShareThis

Pin It button on image hover