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Be Ruthless

July 9th, 2014

It’s been a while since I talked about my 5×5 Challenge Garden.  I must admit, it’s a bit overgrown.  The lettuce I started this spring grew like crazy almost shading out the tomatoes that were planted in their midst.  Then the golden peas grew rampant and were blown over when the hurricane came through last week.  As a result, the garden is rather in shambles.
5x5 challenge garden (1)
I ripped out all the lettuce earlier this week.  I plan on harvesting most of the peas while leaving a few to set seed.  Then they will be ripped out and replanted with something else, perhaps bush beans.  The tomatoes need tied up and staked along with a good mulch around their feet.  After that the garden should look neater and the tomatoes will start growing well.

Does your garden ever get out of control? 

 

It’s Planting Time!

June 5th, 2013

This is the seventh installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
This past weekend I seeded my 5×5 Challenge Garden. I started off by measuring off square foot sections of the raised bed. This isn’t a necessary step, you can plant your garden without making neat rows. I find it makes spacing easier when I measure it off in this way.  I started by laying a few yard sticks on the sides, then I simply drug a dowel from one side to the next to make my grid.
5x5 challenge garden 1
5x5 challenge garden 2
Back when I first started gardening in raised beds, I use tacks on the side of the beds and strung twine between the make a semi-permanent grid.
first raised bed in the garden
Since I had made up a plan earlier (see this post for my 5×5 Challenge Garden Plan), it only took me a few minutes to get all the seeds in the ground. One of the reasons I contacted Renee’s Garden about being a part of this challenge, is because she specializes in seeds for the small home gardeners. Many of her seed packets contain multiple varieties, the seeds are even color coded to make planting easy.
planting the 5x5 challenge garden 1
planting the 5x5 challenge garden 2
When you plant your challenge garden, use the spacing guides on the back of the packet. Since you’re growing a small garden, you only need to take note of the spacing guidelines mentioned between seeds. Disregard the row spacing requirements. Back when I was planting a few small raised beds, I had Mr Chiots make me a few planting guides with different spacing that were a square foot. As they grow, noticed whether this works in your soil. If your soil is great, you can get away with planting things closer. If your soil is lean, you might need to go a little farther apart. Using the guidelines on the back is a great starting point.
seeding-template
square-foot-seed-plates
I noticed earlier this week that some of the seeds were already germinating. Of course the chickens managed to nab a few of the bean sprouts before I noticed, but they only got a few.
BJs 5x5 Garden
Yesterday afternoon, I even headed down to my neighbor’s house to help her plant her 5×5 Garden.

Any seeding questions from our newbies or advice from our seasoned gardeners?

Fill-Er-Up

May 29th, 2013

This is the sixth installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
Last night things had dried out enough for me to fill up the 5×5 Challenge Garden in the front yard. I didn’t bother with any special raised bed mix. In the past when I had raised beds, I used Mel’s Mix from Square Foot Gardening. I wasn’t happy with the mix and found that simply adding a sandy loam soil to a raised bed worked best. It retains moisture better and my plants grew much better in real soil.
5x5challenge garden 1
As you can see my garden helper was on hand to survey my work and make sure I was doing it properly.
5x5challenge garden 2
After filling it up, I had grand plans of planting all my seeds. It’s finally warm enough here to not worry too much about frost. Then the mosquitos started buzzing in my ear.
5x5challenge garden 3
I’ll get the entire garden planted tomorrow, following my handy planned out guide of course. It sure is nice to finally be planting something. I can’t wait to see how well everything does, will we have any seeds germinating already by next week?

When’s your last frost date?  Have you planted your heat loving crops in the garden yet? 

Building a Timberframe Raised Bed

May 1st, 2013

This is the third installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
This past weekend, Mr Chiots built a raised bed for my 5×5 Challenge garden. Since I’m starting the garden on sod, I figured it would be best to build up and add soil on top. We debated making a simple raised bed from lumber yard pine, but then Mr Chiots got involved. Since he took a timberframing class a few weeks ago, he decided to use the techniques he learned to make the raised bed a little more decorative.
building raised bed 1
building raised bed 2
While we were on a hike last week, we found a downed pine in the woods. Instead of heading out to the lumberyard to buy lumber, he decided to use his Alaskan Mill to mill the lumber for the raised bed. This way he could make them nice and sturdy.
timberframed raised bed 1
timberframed raised bed 2
timberframed raised bed 3
We have to put a few pegs in it to hold it all together, we’re thinking of using some small sapling instead of wooden dowels. Building a raised bed doesn’t have to be this complicated, it can be as simple as connecting four boards. You can even have the friendly people at your home improvement store cut it for you.

Have you ever gardened in a raised bed? Do you have any advice for newbies doing so?

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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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