So much of the food my family eats is produce, and because of that, most of our grocery bill each month comes from produce items. It became apparently clear that if we wanted to eat as much produce as we do and make sure that it was 100% organic, we had to grow it ourselves. Well, let me just tell you, when you have to grow enough produce for 10 people, your garden has to be pretty large. And believe me when I tell you that our garden in really big. About 3 years ago, we started our first garden and it consisted of 3 tomato plants. Three! Of course, back then we were eating Stouffer’s and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese all the time, so a large garden wasn’t necessary. In the summer of 2012, we moved to a new house with a very large yard and in the spring of 2013, my dad built us a very large garden in a spot in the yard that gets sun basically all day long. It was the perfect spot.
Sadly, our first year of real gardening didn’t go very well. We didn’t know much about what we were doing and lost a lot of food to pests and sometimes because we forgot to water. Then again, we did learn a lot in our first year of real gardening. We learned when the best times to plant things was, we learned which plants didn’t like direct sunlight, and we learned how to get rid of garden pests without using chemicals or pesticides. So, because we had one year of failure, it also meant we had a whole year to learn what worked and what didn’t. That’s why we feel so confident about this year’s garden.
This year we are taking our garden to a whole new level. Last year, we placed all of our plants directly into the ground—in dirt that was basically sand mixed with pieces of house debris (poor deconstruction cleanup). So in our 2014 garden, we used pallets from a local mattress store to build raised beds. The pallets were totally free so that was really awesome. Then, we filled those pallets with topsoil and compost that we purchased from a home improvement store. The dirt did indeed cost a bit, but it was totally worth it. The herb bed you see pictured above was built and filled the way I stated. All of these plants are thriving, super green, delicious, and 100% organic. Awesome, right?
This is our garden. This particular picture was taken about 2 weeks ago. To give a little perspective on how big it is, there are four raised beds on the left side of the picture that are 13 feet long. I think the total length of the garden, from left to right, is about 65 feet.
This is one of the few potted plants we have in our garden. Lamb’s ears supposedly attracts bees so we thought a few plants would be sufficient.
Speaking of bees…
We planted two Salvia plants last year in this little area behind our garden that we call the “natural area.” The Salvia plants popped right back up even after the super hard winter we had and are thriving. The amount of bees they bring to our garden is huge. Every time you look over at the plant, there’s two or three bees buzzing around, doing what bees do best. I think it’s funny to catch them in action.
My dad spent a whole day building this thing. This, my friends, is a Mason bee hive. It is made from bamboo that we found on the side of the road and some wire. Oh yeah, and a reciprocating saw, but you know…
More info on Mason bees here.
This is just a fraction of the snow peas we have already harvested this year. They are absolutely freaking delicious and we love them so much. We are definitely planting double the amount of snow peas next year.
These are the snow peas flowers.
These are homegrown strawberries. They’re relatively large for organic strawberries and super juicy. My mother, who is allergic to raw produce, can coincidentally eat our produce (ahem…no pesticides…100% organic). Strawberries are super easy to grow. We actually tried to grow some last year, but we had lots of problems with pests like sugar ants and slugs.
My dad built a little bed out of bricks (the part with the cinder block on it) last year for the three strawberry plants we had then. Speaking of last years strawberries, two of the plants we had last year were still stuck in the “biodegradable” pot we bought them in. Yeah. So my dad did a little plant surgery to remove the “biodegradable” pot and placed the plants back in the brick bed. The other plant, the one that wasn’t in a pot for year, turned into 9 other strawberry plants. Talk about wow. My dad had to build another attachment (to the right side) onto the brick bed. Eight more strawberry plants are in the pallet bed with straw sprinkled around them to keep away pests.
This is some mint that we haven’t put in the ground yet. Mint does not go the in the garden or herb bed at our house. Since mint likes to go wild, we plant it in an area around the house. We also have 4 rosemary plants around the house.
This is the flower on one of our onion plants. We bought the organic onion from Whole Foods and we had’t used it quick enough, so it started to grow…a lot. There were roots all within the onion and a bright green stem appeared from the top. So we planted it in a pot to see what it would do. Well, let me tell you, I never expected an onion to grow such a beautiful flower, and I think these are all still buds! (I’ll share a pic on the Facebook page when it does flower completely.)
We planted six bell pepper plants so far. Last year, we actually had a little bit of success with bell peppers so…fingers crossed! These plants are only a few weeks old, so they should get much bigger.
This is some sort of squash plant, meaning it could be crook-neck squash, zucchini, acorn squash, spaghetti squash—we didn’t really label them. So I guess it’ll be a surprise when the vegetable actually starts developing.
Our tomato plants are still a little small, probably because the soil hasn’t been able to maintain at least an 80 degree temperature for a whole week. Last week it rained a lot, so it was cooler than this week. Hopefully they’ll start doing something soon.
I hope you liked the tour of our 2014 garden! I had fun (and sweat a lot) taking all these pictures because I feel visuals are always better.
Have you ever made a garden? Have you ever used pallets to make a garden? Which plant to you have the most success with? Let me know in the comments below!