Garden Notes

I have been busy the last 2 weeks working in the backyard and garden. I don’t know if you remember the raised bed vegetable garden we started last year or not, but you may have noticed that there was not much mention of it after that first post. Why? Because it was an epic fail. Let’s just say that my thumb is a little more brown than green. But I am DETERMINED to master this, so I approached the garden with a lot more planning and intention this year.

I started a little gardening journal, where I keeping all of my planting dates and notes on specific care and harvest instructions. I started out by doing some yard measurements and tracking the amount of sunlight each part of the backyard gets each day. Then I tested the pH levels of my soil, which all tested pretty neutral.

I opted to plant a Square Foot Garden this year, and planned mine out using this free online planner. After working in about 9 bags of mushroom compost, I used twine to mark off my squares. My garden is 5′ x 10′, so I had 50 squares to work with. Because the garden is 5′ wide instead of the typical 4′, I placed two stepping stones in the very center so that I will be able to reach the middle plants easier.

On the left end of the garden, Phillip will be building me trellis, so I planted 1 square of watermelon, 2 of cantelopes, and 2 of cucumbers. The next row is squash, zuchinni, thyme, and peppers. Next is more squash and zuchinni, tomatoes and peppers. In the middle of the garden are onions, garlic, carrots, and red potatoes. Heading toward the right are the rest of my herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, and oregano. Then I planted a row of marigolds to help deter pests, leaving the last 2 rows for the spreading of my 5 strawberry plants.

Here are the strawberry plants up close. Because strawberries prefer a more acidic soil, the garden expert at Lowe’s recommended pine straw for mulch because she said as it breaks down, it will naturally make the soil more acidic.

Here’s a closer shot of my peppers and tomatoes. I will stake the tomatoes when I get back from my trip.
I planted 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, and 1 jalapeno pepper. For the tomatoes, I planted 2 Better Boys, 1 Bonnie Grape, and I can’t remember the other one. (I have it written in my notebook is at home.) Everything else I planted by seed.
When I was digging up the garden and adding in the compost, I found that some weeds had grown up under the garden border, so I dug up all the grass and weeds about a foot around the bed and added mulch to help prevent regrowth. And because the boys LOVED digging in the garden during the fall and winter, I thought I better give them a new place to dig, so they wouldn’t be digging up my seeds. My father-in-law was getting rid a wooden step base last year, and I asked him if I could have it for a potential future little garden. This year, it will just be for digging.
I found this adorable bean teepee idea, so I decided to add one of those as well. 

I planted pole beans, garden peas, and Black-eyed Susans around the teepee, and I hope it will provide a fun hiding place for the boys later this summer.
In addition to the vegetable garden, we worked on some other backyard projects…
Phillip worked on rebuilding the doors on the shed we bought for $100 on Craigslist last year. He did a fantastic  job! I am trying to choose paint colors now. What do you think about this shed’s color scheme?
I also worked on the landscaping around the sun porch. Here is the back where it is nice and shady. I had dug up a bunch of huge roots from this area last year, and then just planted wildflowers. This year, I dug those up and edged the area with some old bricks before planting Hostas and a Hydrangea. 
The other side of the porch looked like this…
But I dug it up and planted a Rhododendron, a Hawthorne, and another Hydrangea. I also planted a few small Lily Turf plants and added some mulch. I can’t wait until they grow big and beautiful!
I have plans to add a lot of other perennials, but I wanted to start them indoors and then transplant in a few weeks.
This little greenhouse has 72 pods and I started some Delphinium, Fox Gloves, Purple Coneflowers, Calendula, more Black Eyed Susans, Columbine, and Sunflowers. In another container, I started 72 Hollyhocks that I plan to plant along the back of the privacy fence at the back of our yard. But first, I have to finish digging up all of the weeds and brush already along the fence. 
The last area I worked on is in the back corner of our yard near the playset. It was an area I had been putting off because I didn’t have the strength to dig up the huge roots back there. I ended up paying a teenage boy from our youth group to come over for a few hours and dig for me. He worked hard and accomplished much more than I ever could have!
After he was finished, I planted some Azaleas and added mulch. I also dug up all the weeds along the playset and added mulch. It’s looks much cleaner now. 

All that digging, planting, and mulching was a ton of work and every bone and muscle in my body ached all week long! BUT, it was so worth it. After living here almost 2 1/2 years, the backyard is really starting to take shape. The boys and I spend a lot of time out there, and I want it to be nice and peaceful back there. 
I will keep you posted on how everything grows and progresses. My fingers are crossed that this will be my year for the green thumb to kick in!
Always, 
Amanda


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