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Slowly but Surely

April 18th, 2013

Yesterday, I was finally able to spend time in the main edible garden that’s located above our garage/shop.  I started working on setting up the row system and marked the first one.  Two thirds of the new row was raked smooth and will be ready to plant when I need to.  I’m hoping to get some compost before adding anything, hopefully that will happen next week.  Since I didn’t have time to make any compost last year, I’ll be buying some this spring.  Next year I should have all I need.
Getting the Garden Ready 1
While I was marking my rows, I measured the back garden to get an official size.  It measured in at: 45 feet wide by 75 feet deep for a total of 3,375 square feet of gardening space.  Add to that the 50 I’ve got in the small potager behind the house, and I’m finally going to be able to grow a respectable amount of food.  These won’t be the only gardens, I’m in the process of putting in another one that will add around 500-750 square feet of edible gardening space. (How’s that for a view while gardening?)
Getting the Garden Ready 2
I was happy as a clam yesterday while soaking up some sun, measuring and laying out the crisp rows in my large vegetable garden.  It will be interesting to see how much I can fit into this space.

How much total edible garden space do you have?

22 Comments to “Slowly but Surely”
  1. Marina C on April 18, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Not only are you doing the 5×5 garden as a teaching tool, but you are almost starting from scratch with the small potager and this one!
    It is so interesting to observe, and we will learn so much from watching you grow your garden space. I am particularly interested in better weed control this summer.
    What a good year to have Dillon join you. Your pursuit of a more simple life certainly is not that of an idle one, with all the ‘outside’ work and travel you do!
    That teaches us the bonus: how to manage one’s time most economically. That is possibly more important than managing money. One could make more money, but not more time!
    Really, managing one’s money and one’s timetime go hand in hand. You and Mr. Chiots seem to know how to do both very well.

    Reply to Marina C's comment

    • Susy on April 18, 2013 at 7:27 am

      Weed control will be a big chore this summer. The previous owners allowed weeds to grow and set seed, therefore the seed bank is very full. I’m currently reading a few books and will be implementing a no-dig method side by side with a few others to see how it works. In the past, the no dig method has worked very well for me in minimizing weeds, especially if I’m diligent about pulling weeds the first year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Joan on April 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

        Susy, one thing I’ve thought about trying but haven’t yet… In an area with a lot of weed seeds let the weeds start to grow, then throw down some clear plastic with the edges sealed. It should kill the weeds quickly. If you do this a few times (assuming you don’t need to plant the area immediately) you should, in theory, be able to kill most of the weed seeds fairly quickly and easily. I read this somewhere and stored it in the back of my mind because it made a lot of sense to me. If you try it, let me know if it works!

        to Joan's comment

  2. BJ on April 18, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Looks good Susy!

    Reply to BJ's comment

  3. Sierra N Hampl on April 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

    How exciting! I can’t wait to watch all of your garden space come to life!

    Reply to Sierra N Hampl's comment

  4. Amy S on April 18, 2013 at 8:10 am

    my garden is 30×75 which doesn’t sound large but it does when it comes to weeding. I’m trying to figure out where to plant my berries that just arrived from Stark Bros. I’m thinking of putting them in the garden and making it bigger or till a new area. It’s nice seeing you starting your new areas and how you do it.

    Reply to Amy S's comment

  5. Chas on April 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Susy! I would love to hear about how you combat this problem of previously tilled soil. We are trying our best to get away from tilling. Please keep us posted on what you do, what’s the most and least effective if you have the time. Thanks!

    Reply to Chas's comment

  6. kathi Cook on April 18, 2013 at 8:24 am

    What a perfect garden site! Are you going to enclose it or protect it from wild Maine critters? I have a city garden and always wondered how difficult it would be in the country with all the hungry animals (ground hogs,rabbits,deer etc.)

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

  7. Melissa on April 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I’m a wee bit jealous! I’m adding a little garden space 20×25 ft over where my husband raises pigs! Would love to have an acre or so to play with!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  8. kristin @ going country on April 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Too much at the moment. Almost 2,000 square feet, much of which is sadly losing the battle to weeds. Or rather, I’m losing the battle to weeds. It’s kind of frustrating. The past couple of years I’ve really been wishing I didn’t have so much space, because I can’t keep up with it. I can’t even plant it to a cover crop to keep out the weeds because the chickens ate all the seeds I put out and then there weren’t enough to out-grow the weeds.

    The chickens have also been scratching around all the mulch I’ve managed to put out, thereby creating cleared areas where weeds are coming up and also covering over my garlic plants.

    I’m thinking the chickens are going to be disciplined here pretty soon. I’m all for free-range, except they’re ranging way too freely in my garden and undoing all my hard work.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  9. Daedre Craig on April 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Wowza! You have much more space than me now.

    I’m completely reconfiguring my vegetable garden this year, including removing all the raised beds. After last year’s drought conditions, raised beds are no longer my friend. My new garden will be 54’x32′, so a little over 1700 square feet. That’ll be the most space I’ve ever had and I can’t wait!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  10. tj on April 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    …That view! You lucky lil’ snot you! [giggle] ;o)

    …Everything is certainly taking shape, it looks great and I can’t wait to see it all planted and thriving. I think this is gonna be a wonderful year for you two and it seems like it’s already going full swing.

    …Enjoy! That is all I can think to say to you. Just stand out there in your garden and give thanks, you both are blessed.

    …Have a lovely day!

    …Peace & blessings. :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  11. Nebraska Dave on April 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Susy, I have four raised beds at the Urban Ranch (my back yard) which comes in at about 125 square feet of fresh table garden. Then Terra Nova Gardens (Inner city garden) is about 6,000 square feet. That seems large but when pumpkins, squash, watermelons, and sweet corn are grown the space is used up fast. My method of “Ruth Stout” no dig gardening is working wonderfully well this spring. I dumped about a foot of neighborhood collected leaves/grass yard waste last fall. It reduced down to a good three to four inches of mulch. So far only the hardiest of weed have broken through the layer of mulch. A quick stab with spade to sever the root and a toss on the compost pile has really eliminated the weed problem.

    Another method of killing weeds for soil preparation last year was dumpster diving for old carpet from apartments. It seems to have been a good way to kill weeds but let the moisture through to the soil under the carpet. I’m planning to use carpet this year to expand my weed control over into a vacant lot next to Terra Nova Gardens.

    I’ll be interested to see how your do dig method works for you.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  12. amy on April 18, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Susy~We have 14,000 sq ft of veg gardens and herb garden……This does not include the over 50 ft of pallet gardening we are trying this year….which will house our lettuces, leeks, beets etc…Oddly enough I have never measured this until today……I knew it was a lot…..or at least…. it has felt that way…..We grow the bulk of our food….and try to utilize all parts of what most people keep as a lawn. The veg areas are separate from the rhubarb, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that I grow…which I consider to also be edible gardening…However my strawberries, elderberries, gooseberries and aronia nero are all incorporated as is my asparagus bed into my veg gardens. There are 4 adults living here as well as an eleven year old boy who eats like an adult……We need a great deal of produce!

    Reply to amy's comment

  13. whit on April 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Hi Susy,

    Reading your post today has me awestruck! Over 3300 sq feet–holy hyssop, that’s a ton of space!

    Then i started thinking, hmmm…i have 100′ row of grapes running the length of the main growing area from the previous owner and an animal shed in front of that which is easily 24 feet wide. Then there’s the industrial greenhouse. Then the edible front gardens. Not to mention on the grass farming we do (which deseparately needs some kind of critter that will be kind enough to convert 5 acres of grass into a fully stocked freezer.)

    Best of luck to you in your gardening efforts this year!


    Reply to whit's comment

  14. Mary Schier on April 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I have 6 raised beds, plus I’ll be adding at least two large stock tanks with plants in them. It’s 35 degrees and sleeting here in Minnesota (again!!!) so I’m feeling envious of your sun and dry soil. Enjoy!

    Reply to Mary Schier's comment

  15. Caroline on April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Wow! I strive to someday be able to have the time/energy/ability to have such a large garden! I’m already wary of my ability to do the 5×5 but I’m going to keep chugging along! (You know, if this SNOW will ever STOP!!!)

    Reply to Caroline's comment

  16. KimH on April 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I have 2 25×30 gardens at the community gardens and then about 2.5 feet around around 2 sides of my house.. I have flower gardens/areas in more than that but for my veggies, thats about it. Its not near as much as I’d like to have but we must do what we can, when we can, how we can.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  17. Andy on April 18, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Three 8×4 raised beds yield around 300 lbs of produce each year. Nearly year round growing in the Bay Area helps!

    Re: weed control, Google “soil solarization” which is what Joan referred to. A Stanford research project tested that in an open space area on campus to kill off the non-native grass and enable native plants to return, it was fun to watch it play out. The killing off part definitely worked.

    Reply to Andy's comment

  18. Olivia on April 19, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Our main garden is the size of a basketball court (I know this because that’s what was there before we bought our house) and it’s enough to have a good supply of vegetables during the growing season, but not enough to freeze or can. We also have a side garden that mostly just has potted plants (some citrus trees in pots, sometimes cucumber and tomatoes, and some decorative plants), but it doesn’t get enough sun to do much more with it (it’s underneath an upstairs balcony and is in the shade almost all day, so we kind of shuffle the potted plants around so they get to be in the sun once in a while). We have other spaces we could be using, but haven’t developed (yet). Mostly they’re covered in nasty bushes and vines, so it always seems like too much work to turn those spaces into anything usable. The previous owners just loved covering dirt with concrete slabs and planting ugly things with big roots. LOL

    Reply to Olivia's comment

  19. Jennifer Ray on April 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Have you seen the ‘back to eden’ film? It’s an approach to organic gardening where the basic principles are just to copy nature – and let the microbes and worms, etc do all the work for you.

    Basically:- never break ground unless you need to dig up a thistle or plant/harvest. Never till. Rarely water. Always keep the soil covered in 4-6 inches of mulch.

    The gentleman whose garden is shown in the film seems to have amazing success. I was just wondering if you had ever seen it or (possibly more likely) read a book about similar techniques, and if you had any thoughts on it?

    If you google ‘back to eden film’ it should be the first result.


    Reply to Jennifer Ray's comment

  20. laura on April 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

    wow, that is a lot of space! i have two 4×4 raised beds and am trying to find someone to till up an additional area (not sure of the size). currently it is overgrown with grass/ivy and herbs that i’d planted before but need to move. i wish i had half your energy!
    have fun – can’t wait to see what you do with it all

    Reply to laura's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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