March, Project No. 2: Garden Expansion


March 3, 2011 by Leah

I was puttering on the patio yesterday when I noticed this:



The herb pots that had contained dead-seeming brush since late last fall were suddenly green again!

This may not sound like much of a revelation, but the only perennial herb we had in Alaska that actually acted like a perennial was the chive. I had been thinking about planning a new garden for a week or so, but had been completely unable to get inspired. Seeing green in my herb pots apparently was just the kick in the pants I needed.

So, yesterday I made a new garden bed. I also cleared out and edged the strawberry patch in hopes that not having to compete with grass will mean more strawberries.

Strawberry bed

In the new garden bed I planted: corn with Blue Lake beans (in hopes that the beans will run up the cornstalks); summer squash; onions (from bulbs this time since when I tried green onions from seeds in the fall nothing came up); broccoli; eggplant; tomatoes (I bought seedlings); cucumbers; and flowers. Snapdragons and English lavender. I’m super-excited about the flowers. I’m also going to plant potatoes in the two halves of that gray garbage can once I’m done using it to soak newspapers and have sawed it in half.

New garden bed

I put the new garden bed in a sunny spot that is easy to get to from the house. I’m someone who really has to learn by doing, but here I am, applying lessons learned from last fall’s garden (which is still growing things, just rather slowly, and which is located in a lot of shade and far away from the house), so I’m okay with that.

I bought peat moss, mulch, compost (we have no “browns” here!), and planting mix to build the bed, and of course the seeds and plants to go in it. All of this cost $102. Tomorrow I am driving to San Pedro with our wheeled garbage can in the back of the Prius to pick up some free mulch in which to grow the potatoes, and maybe to mix with our compost to see if we can get it cooking, but I can’t haul all that much and it’s only available one day a week.

I’m loosely basing the raised bed design on the ideas put forth in the book “Lasagna Gardening,” by Patricia Lanza and recommended to me by my friend David. The “no-dig” aspect of this kind of gardening really appeals to me (and Aaron). We’re spending about the same amount of money per square foot of garden as we did last fall when we dug out our garden beds, and we aren’t having to blister ourselves up in the process.

Now, the big question is: do we do more? I managed to do all the planning, shopping, hauling, creating, and planting in one day (granted I finished by headlamp, but I also stripped and primed a hutch and edged the strawberry bed and went to the vet). It’s so tempting to make another bed so we can plant the watermelon seeds Aaron wants to try, celery, peppers hot and sweet, and maybe some quinoa. Yet that would be another $100 and we live under the constant threat of being moved out of state (which we would both love, but obviously we could not take the garden). I haven’t heard anything about a move for a long time. The earliest we could possibly go anywhere would be June, and that would be highly unlikely. I’d say it’s much more likely that we will be here through this fall and possibly even through next fall (2012), but it’s not improbable that we’ll be out of here much sooner.

I suppose I could wait until next Friday and haul another load of free mulch back here, but then we’d lose another week of growing time, which isn’t exactly ideal, either.

So, what does everyone think? Should I keep expanding?


3 thoughts on “March, Project No. 2: Garden Expansion

  1. David says:

    Yes, add another bed. You have a long growing season and if you loose w week or two it will not ruin your garden. Infact tomatoes and peppers like hot weather better than cool weather. For potatoes check out growing potatoes vertically. You can use a space the size of your garbage can to grow lots of potatoes.

  2. goffcouture says:

    If you can spare the money now, it will probably make itself back for you when those veggies come into season.

    I definitely have been trying to garden frugally. Sometimes I find mulch, manure, and other good stuff for building up the garden for free on Craigslist, which helps a lot. But I’m continuing to expand as much as the schedule and budget will allow. 🙂

  3. leahkathlyn says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, guys! Aaron remembered that we have moving boxes galore in our shed, so we’re going to tape together as many as we can fit in the back of the Prius and I’ll take them over to the free mulch drop point in San Pedro tomorrow morning, shovel in hand. This should bring the cost of the next bed down to $20 plus seeds or seedlings.

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