Vegetable garden

David's picture

Ahh, the vegetable garden.  I spent many a night working on plans for our garden.  Researching types of veggies, fruits and grains to grow, gardening methods and all sorts of things related to gardening.  So when the snow had all melted and the ground was firm enough, I was ready.  Well, I thought I was ready. 

First thing I did was build a growing table.  We were staying in a basement and the temperature wasn't exactly great for sprouting seeds.  With some scrap lumber and an old window for the top, I had my table.  Under the table I insulated the sides and placed a radiator heater inside.  A few vent holes was a sure way to keep my seedlings toasty warm.  It worked really well.  It probably could have been a bit larger because at times Patricia and I had to take turns using it.  The seeds sprouted in half the time.  Here is the first thing that went wrong.  As soon as a seedling sprouts, it needs to be moved into the sunlight.  You would think I would have known that having done so much research.  Well, I must have misplaced that bit of info somewhere in my mind.  I ended up having sun starved plants.  Little leaves and long stems.  Most did not survive.  I lost all my melons and tomatoes.  After the sprouting I hardened off the survivors.  And then planted in the garden.

I made the garden into raised beds.  I collected pallets from the stores around town, and raided construction dumpsters for scrap lumber.  I built four raised beds to incorporate crop rotation throughout the years.  The beds were 4' wide and 20' long, and were meant to be 12" deep, but I had to cut it down to 6" because to fill them with top soil would have been really expensive.  I also cut in another patch of garden at grade level for a corn field.  I was planning on adding soil to the raised beds.  Some nice fertile soil with some sand compost and existing clay soil.  But because of the expense we couldn't afford the soil.  We were shown a location off the highway to get our own soil, but it was difficult to get a truck and time was running out.  So what I did was dig out the paths between the beds, and used that soil.  It was very clayey and not the greatest for some plants.  I still was able to add compost I had made from horse manure, so that was good.

The four beds were finished and I started working on the corn patch.  Turning over the soil and removing the grass and weeds.  Sadly, I ran out of time and had to really reduce the size of the corn patch.  It was supposed to be 10'x24', but instead it was 10'x4'.  Very sad.

Potatoes were planted earlier, but on June 1st it was time to put in all the other veggies.  Oh, I forgot to mention we did end up buying a couple of tomato plants, and a few others were given to us.  Some seeds were planted directly into the beds like carrots and corn for instance.  The rest were all transplants.

At this point, I thought all was going fairly well.  But the timing was off.  The following day we were headed out of town for just over a week.  Sadly, the newly planted garden was out of my caring hands.  My sister-n-law took over while I was away which was fine.  But when I got back she told me that nearly every night had frost.  Oh no!  And on top of that, I had to begin working on digging a foundation for the cob 'shop'.

Well, as of today, the garden is prospering but has been badly neglected.  Some seeds never sprouted, some transplants died of frost exposure, and grass and weeds are coming in thick.  I'm happy with what my garden is producing, but I know it could have been a lot better.  But now that the garden is in, I can continue to improve on it and don't have to start from scratch next season.

Here are a couple of pictures of the garden.  One of during it's construction, and one from today. 

Comments

Rachel's picture

How long is your growing period?

By Rachel
David's picture

Well the frost dates are from June 1st to Sept. 15.  The species we got are said to be good for short growing seasons.  We tried to get all either heirloom or organic seeds.  I imagine a greenhouse would have helped out a bunch.  But that will have to wait until next season.

By David
Rachel's picture

Do you think you can extend the growing season by much with a greenhouse?  And, would you need to put black barrels or another form of heat sink to do that?

By Rachel
David's picture

A greenhouse will definitely extend the growing season.  I suppose a way to hold heat throughout the night would be a great idea as well.  It really depends on your ultimate plans for gardening.  I believe we will need to have a greenhouse with some type of heat sink in order to have the quantity of food that we would need for a whole year.

A greenhouse, with no additional temperature control, may add one to two weeks before last frost.  I'm sure it will extend it past the first frost as well, but I can't see any use for that being how everything should already be in the garden.  Adding heat is a sure way to start gardening really early, it just depends on how much energy you are willing to use to keep it heated.  For us, we are not really interested on extending the growing season, but more on having the space to ensure we have enough veggies throughout the year.

The veggies in our garden were chosen with our short season in mind.  All of them should have enough time to produce without the use of a greenhouse.  And we feel the variety we have should be enough to satisfy.  Most of them were direct sowing, so they don't need a greenhouse at all.  Some we had to start indoors.  In normal circumstances it would be fine to do it in your house, no greenhouse necessary (I would not have needed to make a growing table had we not lived in the basement).  But in order to have the quantity of veggies to supply us for a whole year, we need to have a lot of plants.  And in our designed cob home, we don't have that space.  So a greenhouse would be necessary just to hold the seedlings until planting time. 

We planted leeks, and I think they needed to be started 3 weeks before last frost.  The others were two weeks or sooner. I don't think a greenhouse, with a couple of heat sinks, would have any problems growing them.  Now of course if there was something you really wanted to grow that exceeded your growing season, then you would definitely need a heated greenhouse.  I don't think heat sinks will be enough.

So in a nutshell, you only need to provide heat if you are growing something that requires a longer growing season than the one you live in.  For everything else, a greenhouse will be fine, and heat sinks may be optional.

Lastly I'd like to mention that plants requiring you to have a heated greenhouse, will most likely require growing lamps as well, being how there probably won't be enough sun that soon in the year.

By David
Rachel's picture

You might want to check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O59TzGPHM_g It had a lot of really good information.

By Rachel

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