Getting our garden on

Our vegetable garden is officially planted! But before I show you the finished product, let’s go back a week so I can tell you all about our crazy veggie garden adventures…

Two years ago, our backyard looked like this:

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It was pretty empty.
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Last year, we added a gazebo to our patio to help spruce up the backyard and to make it a little more functional.

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This year, we decided to add a vegetable garden to our backyard. But the big question was, where should we put the garden? In order to plant our veggie garden, we first needed to decide on a place in our backyard and then measure out the appropriate space. In my last post I mentioned our plans for the patio. In order to know where we wanted to put our garden, we decided to map out patio design. From the design, we were able to take a few rough measurements and place the garden in a location that would be incorporated into the patio design down the road.

After taking the measurements for the patio design and marking off the garden using spray paint, we then used a tiller to dig up the soil.Thankfully, one of our good friends let us borrow his tiller for this project. Using a tiller was a huge time saver despite our very damp and muddy soil.

Since our yard is mostly clay, we bought top soil to lay over top of the clay. We calculated that it would take 27 40lb bags of top soil to fill our space. That’s 9080 lbs of top soil! Much to my surprise (BJ wasn’t skeptical, of course) were able to fit all the bags in my car but it was definitely riding low. Good thing we only live a few miles from Lowes!

On the evening that we chose to till the current soil and lay the new top soil, a scattered thunderstorm came through and it rained for about 30 minutes. This of course, didn’t help because we’ve had so much rain that the backyard was already damp and soupy.Once it stopped raining, BJ started tilling while I made our dinner. Gotta eat sometime, right?

After dinner and tilling, we added the top soil and laid our organic garden mat.

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It was pretty late by the time we finished laying the mat so we decided to wait until the next day to plant. In the meantime, our seedlings were growing like crazy in their starter kit.

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Then, the next over the three days it rained and was cold… so fast forward a few days to Mother’s Day.

I spent several hours on Sunday, cutting holes in the garden mat and planting our seedlings. By Sunday afternoon, all the seedlings were planted. We planted red and yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, zucchini, green and yellow peppers and a few herbs such as oregano, parsley and basil.

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I found these copper herb garden stakes at Target.IMG_5048

Once the plants were in the ground, we covered the mat with peat moss and watered the entire garden.

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That night, BJ and I covered the entire garden to protect the seedlings from the potential frost.

After several days of planning, tilling and planting, our garden is complete. Now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping our little seedlings make it! After this year, we’ll see what crops produced vegetables and which didn’t. Next year we will adjust our game plan based on our results. Since we’ve never planted a vegetable garden before, this year will be our baseline to determine what will grow and what will not.

Do you have a vegetable garden? What vegetables and herbs do you have the most luck with each year?

Going Green for Earth Day 2013

Happy Earth Day 2013!

I got an early start on our Earth Day celebrations this weekend by purchasing fresh flowers and house plants and planting a seed starter kit for our vegetable/herb garden.

On Friday afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store and decided that it would be nice to have fresh flowers for the weekend. I picked up these daisies and arranged them in Ball jars to use as coffee table decorations. They went perfectly with our West Elm owl, Threshold coasters and West Elm tray.

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I also brought home fresh tulips for the kitchen and arranged them in our bright green vase.
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On Saturday, I made a trip to Home Deport and found some gerbera daisy annuals for our kitchen. The flowers and their brightly colored pots (which we already owned) add vibrance to our kitchen while helping with our air quality. Very Earth Day appropriate!
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I also picked up a few foliage plants including this prayer plant and palm.

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We decided to kick-start our vegetable/herb garden by purchasing a Burpee seed starting kit. You can find these kits at places like Target or Home Depot. The kit is really easy to set up and even includes a QR code on the package that you can scan to watch a “how to” video.

I planted 12 different rows of vegetables and herbs in our seed starter. Hopefully, in a few weeks we will have little seedlings ready to plant outside.

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The seed starter can be stored inside in direct sunlight or under a grow light. If it’s nice enough, you can also store the starter outside in direct sunlight. Since we still have the lingering possibility of a freeze over the next week or so, our seed starter is seeking refuge in the loft window.

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How are you celebrating Earth Day this year?

Hello, Hyacinths. Hello, Spring.

Spring has finally arrived! It may be nearly a month since the official start of spring, but with the trees blooming, flowers blossoming and warmer weather, it finally feels like spring.

And with spring weather, comes spring flowers! Our hyacinths are back and in full bloom.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our hyacinths were starting to peek out of the ground. I was really worried they wouldn’t survive the late winter snow storm we had in March, but they persevered. Last week, the hyacinths’ buds were starting to pop open for the first time.

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Now they are in full bloom!
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This is the third season for our hyacinths. Two years ago, I planted them as full-grown flowers and each year they’ve come back. This fall, I might add a few more bulbs so next year we have a full row of hyacinths and tulips. I planted a few tulips when I planted the hyacinths, but I’ve only had luck with one tulip coming back each year. Time to add a few more bulbs and see if they make it through winter.
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It’s almost time to plant annuals for the summer. Here is my late spring/early summer gardening to do list:

1. Plant more petunias.

I had great success with the petunias I planted last year. Despite the severe drought, they spread across the garden and were really beautiful.

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2. Mulch

Last year we added a layer of mulch to our garden, but after several rain storms, it’s time to mulch again.

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3. Plant a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.

I’ve got big plans for a vegetable and herb garden this year.

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I picked up these seeds at Target and it’s almost time to start planting them! BJ and I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and we’re hoping that if all goes well, we will have many homegrown veggies and herbs to choose from!

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There are a few more items that BJ and I thinking about adding to our garden list for the year, such as edging the gardens with stone, but for now, we are going to focus on our first three items and add more as we go. Do you have any big plans for your garden(s) this year?