This spring Luke built 3 new 8 x 4 raised garden beds for me. It had been a couple of years since we had even tried to grow a single vegetable of our own due at first to the rapid increase in bunnies in our neighborhood because of a fox die off in the area which meant that a whole bunch of rabbits treated everything I planted like a big old bunny buffet put there for their enjoyment. Vegetables, herbs, flowers; you name it the probably at least tried to eat it. Then after a summer of dealing with rabbits we spent the next summer removing our garden boxes to make way for a flagstone patio for our fire pit and a space for a hammock. We couldn’t grow anything as there was still a huge population of rabbits running around anyway.
So when Luke mentioned he was ready to get the garden boxes built and out into their new location I as excited (Yay! Fresh veggies and herbs!) and kind of nervous (but what if the bunnies eat all of it?!). That clever husband of mine solved my worries of a bunny takeover by working his way through the yard and sealing off bunny entry points. He raised up the threshold at our gates, blocked off gaps in the fence around the yard, and even used some chicken wire to create a barrier in a few odd places. No more rabbits eating up my garden!
This year we have the best garden we have ever had. It is producing so much we’re having to rethink our usual meals and eating habits just to keep up with it. We’ve had a few issues, what garden doesn’t have a few hiccups? Our green kale was briefly taken over by aphids but we got rid of them, our cantaloupe plant is a runt that can’t seem to get going, and our poblano plant isn’t producing anything yet. The amount of success is so energizing though. This is probably our first year of this sort of success in our dozen years or so of trying to garden.
Here’s what we planted in our three 8×4 raised garden beds:
4 types of tomato (Cherry, Sun Gold, Health Kick, and Fourth of July )
3 kids of carrots (Rainbow, Parisian, and Short & Sweet)
We’re doing a sort of loose form of Square Foot Gardening. We used Mel’s mix to fill the beds and we used the Square Foot Gardening as a guide for planting our seeds and plants. For example we planted carrots seeds using the suggested grid of 4 seeds x 4 seeds per square. We did not follow the suggestions for everything though. I decided to eyeball our squares instead of making a grid, and I didn’t space things specifically by the square foot giving my zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes a bit more room.
I also tried out a method I haven’t tried before for growing zucchini and cucumber inside a tomato cage to help train it up instead of a trellis or allowing the plant to take over half the garden. I’ve never actually grown a zucchini before so it’s a new adventure all around.
I have learned a few things that I’ll change next time but I think if I grow zucchini again I’ll use the tomato cage method. The biggest lesson is making sure to get all the leaves tucked into the cage early, and check to make sure the are held in by the next highest rung often because the grow quickly. I though maybe I needed to just have some of the leaves in the cage, but all of them really need to be held in otherwise they still kind of start to take over a huge space.
I was a little worried I would get overwhelmed by the garden or that I would not take good enough care of it to actually get much returns. Well, we’re harvesting and eating like crazy and loving it. All this gardening has meant that instead of buying huge bags of veggies at the farmer’s market I’ve been buying sauces, fruits, baked goods, and cheese. So overall this gardening thing is going well this year I would say.
I’ve even rediscovered gardening as a hobby. I’ve always wanted to love gardening, but after a few years of little to no success it seemed like more of a chore than a hobby. Now that we’ve remedied our previous major issues I feel like I’m learning so much and enjoying gardening again.