Here it is! Finally, after a two month break, I have finished the second installment of my Cedarwood Gardens Twenty-Twelve Blog.
This is exciting for me for a couple of reasons. First, I have always enjoyed sharing my life experiences so that others can learn from them and second, I have been having my most successful season as a gardener that I am eager to show it off.
Sorry if that sounds vain ;)
Topics within this blog post:
Cold weather crops
Raised bed construction
After submitting the first garden blog I realized that I left out a lot of great information. Some of those things can be quite useful to a new gardener and rather than edit the original I decided to save it for the second blog.
Cold Weather Crops
Before I get into all of those details, I want to give a quick update on the status of my current garden, or at least one particular crop within it.
Like I said in my first garden blog, I am no expert. Case in point, my attempts at growing broccoli were nearly fruitless once again. As heartbreaking as this was, I learned a lot from it.
Broccoli, like all plants in the cabbage family, are cold weather crops. My understanding was that planting in early March would have eliminated the problem of my plants bolting/flowering but this was unfortunately not the case.
It turns out that with our exceptionally warm spring, the soil was heated up too much and too frequently that it induced the broccoli to bolt leaving me with only a small amount of edible broccoli before it all had to be pulled and thrown into the compost pile. Though I did not succeed in this attempt, the lesson I learned was priceless.
So what will I do from here on out you ask?
I am either going to plant earlier than March or simply start them in the late summer when the nights are cooler. Either should work.
Unlike brussel sprouts, the rest of the cabbage family grow much faster and will yield something delicious even if it is late in the season.
Another solution to this problem would have been to cover the soil with mulch to help insulate the plants roots from the heat. I refuse to go this route because I do not want to deal with mulch covered soil at the start of the next season – wood chips do not belong in my soil.
Raised Garden Beds
As far as garden building goes, I wanted to share more details about my method and why.
The first thing I should mention is that when I bought my house is that the soil in my back yard was compacted and had no color (Photos available here). My only feasible choice was to build raised beds. I built the beds out of landscape timbers which are incredibly easy to work with and have held up really well for the past few years. New timbers have been added every subsequent year 4 years which has allowed me to directly monitor their weathering and all I can say is so far so good.
So if any of you reading this blog are thinking to yourself that this is something you would like to do, keep these things in mind; 1. Build the beds like a log cabin and stagger the timbers. 2. Tie them together with a 3.5” to 4” wood or deck screw and use at least 3 per 8 foot length. 3. And this is not mandatory, but try to buy them when they are on sale which is frequent. If you do they are sold at half price – 1.97 per 8’ timber.
The final topic I wanted to touch on is one that is critically important for any garden, the composition of the soil.
During the first two years of my Cedarwood Garden I simply had top soil delivered from Earth to You. At this point in time I wasn’t nearly as educated on the importance of soil composition and health. I simply went with the “good enough” approach. In the end I always produced in abundance but I knew there were better results to be had.
In the years following, most specifically 2011 and 2012, I started to amend the soil. I initially started by adding dozens of bags of compost which I strictly purchase from The Lakewood Garden Center as well as large quantities of peat moss, vermiculite, pearlite, coffee grinds and egg shells. Once all of these were added to my soil I began to test the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and the pH levels about once every 2 to 4 weeks. As I was so new to the task of making a better soil I went easy with my amendments just to make sure I didn’t render the soil unusable by overdoing it. Also, with having 6 individual plots I had to make charts so that I could keep track of which plot was in what condition. All I can say is that the photos of my garden speak a thousand words. I have never had a more productive looking garden in my life and I am in awe every day as I walk, stand, sit and stare at or within my garden. It truly is my sanctuary.
So in conclusion, with all of the things that I have done to the garden, all of the timbers, the soil and the stone, I rough estimate the cost of this garden to be approximately $600, give or take. My breakdown is as follows: $84 for the timbers, $250 for top soil, roughly $50 for the pathway stone and over the past 2 seasons around $200 in compost. Plant and seed costs not included though at this point, not doing a whole lot from seed, I spend about 50-100 per year on those.
Make sure to take a look at the photo comments as I will list some specifics in there as well.
Thanks for reading and enjoy
PS - it's not too late to start a garden. If done right, you can easily have a 3 season garden.