What can you grow in an 8 x 50 plot?
If you’ve been following along you know I moved from Oregon to Central Texas last fall. This move has taught me just how important digging in the dirt is to my well being. As I’ve discovered, I have been a bit lost without a place to dig and growing plants in the windowsill just isn’t going to cut to anymore. My husband, ever attentive to my needs, has been helping me create a new garden from scratch in our backyard.
I’m planning on using several space saving ideas as we carve out our garden from scratch. Today, I thought I would share some of the ideas we are working on. Look for detailed posts, with building instructions, later in the month. We will be using raised beds, container gardening, a gutter garden, several vertical pallet gardens and a few straw bales in our garden plan.
But first, the humble beginnings
I have an area 8 feet wide by 50 feet long to work with. This lets my grand kids and the dogs use the yard too. The challenge is threefold:
- –to create the most growing area in this small space
- –protect it from the dogs.
- –do it for the least amount of money. I’m confident I can accomplish it.
Up goes the fence
I used a roll of green plastic fencing and 3 foot fence t-bars to section off the garden area. The plastic fence has proven to be less than ideal, but great on the wallet. The whole fence cost $30. The problem – until the raised beds were put in place, the dogs would just punch through it if they wanted to go on the other side.
I’ve had to patch it with zip ties several times but now that the beds are in place, they have not tried to get through it at all.
At Last the Garden is Secure
In the beginning, I completely underestimated the tenaciousness of black labs and my new garden area was just too much of a pull for the dogs. They just had to get inside! Once they knew the gate was a weak point, they were unstoppable. The only way to keep them out? I used plastic chairs as a barrier. Not pretty – or easy for people to get through.
Luckily I came into a pallet bonanza a few months ago and this has really helped with the garden.
Now we have a secure gate made from PVC pipe and boards from one of the pallets. Wire fencing was placed between the house and the gate. This has been in place for a few days now and working fantastic. It is effectively keeping the dogs out of the garden.
Utilize all space
My small garden will call for some vertical gardening tricks if I am going to maximize the space. First, I created a gutter garden several months ago. It is currently planted with strawberries, lettuce and snap peas and is working perfectly.
Next up is creating a series of vertical pallet gardens with landscape fabric. We plan to staple in deep pockets for soil and use them to grow salad greens and herbs.
Raised Bed Gardening
The bulk of our food will be grown in 6 raised beds. These measure 6 feet by 3 feet and give us a total of 108 square feet of growing space. These beds are made from cedar fencing and pallet wood. The cost per bed was $12 and they were easy to put together. I saved cardboard for months, so I would have enough for the project. See the tutorial – Raised beds from cedar fencing.
Look for a post later in the month with all the details about how we built them.
Once the beds are in the garden you should cut the grass inside them REALLY SHORT – as short as you can get it and then cover the area with several layers of cardboard. Soak the cardboard before adding soil to the boxes. Cardboard does a few things – kills the grass underneath and holds moisture for a month or so while your garden is getting established.
Add good soil
One thing I have not skimped on is the soil for the boxes. I called around to a local landscape company and had them deliver 3 yards of garden mix soil. What can I say, this stuff is beautiful! The cost: $225, including delivery. That might seem like a lot of money for dirt, but it will pay for itself by providing beautiful produce for years to come.
A few added touches
My straw bale experiment is currently under way. This picture was taken the day I put the bale in the garden. It is completely transformed into a planting container! Look for a post later in the month to explain all about conditioning a straw bale, plus what and how to plant in it. See how to condition a straw bale before planting.
Don’t forget a compost bin. Even a simple piece of wire fence can make an effective compost bin.
Creating a garden from scratch has been fun, challenging and a family project worth the effort. I will share details about the individual projects in later posts.