It’s been a physically exhausting last couple of weeks but the fall garden is planted! I’ve watched carefully to figure out which piece of ground got the most sun and staked that out. The plot is about 40’ x 20’ and about half of that area is planted with fall vegetables. I stopped by the local rental place and got a $40 quote on renting a tiller. Luckily I found a landscape service who agreed to do it for $50, which saved me the hassle of hauling the tiller out here and taking it back. They brought a tractor and very quickly had the plot ready to go. The ground is really wonderful. In that whole 800 square feet I did not see a single rock!
I decided I wanted to use a hoop house to keep the bugs and animals out of the garden. I wanted to see if I could construct it out of materials from the various junk-filled outbuildings. I found several pieces of 2” and 3” PVC, which I used for the base and some 2” irrigation tubing, which I used for the hoops. I tied it all together with sisal twine. It was a little floppy so I found 4 iron rods, which I drove into the ground and slipped the ends of the hoops over for some stability. I purchased some row cover material at the local feed store, which they let me have for half price. After sewing the three lengths together, I had a 25 yard piece that was 15 feet wide. After some tucking, tying and stapling my little hoop house was ready! I originally wanted to be able to stand up in the tallest point of the structure but sometimes, when you construct with found objects, you take what you get! At its apex, my hoop house is about 4 ½ feet tall, plenty high enough for me to work in.
My sister, who manages Stadler Nurseries in Maryland & Virginia, brought me several flats of vegetables when she came to visit me a couple of weeks ago. Now I was ready to plant! It quickly became obvious that everything was not going to fit in the hoop house so I had to make some choices. I’ve got broccoli and Brussels sprouts and one row of cheddar cauliflower under the hoops and three rows of cauliflower and some leeks outside the hoops. I also planted some carrots behind the hoop house. It’s a little early yet for garlic and onions but I’ve got some ordered and they should be here later this month. Once those are planted, the big garden will be complete for fall.
One of the reasons I laid out such a large plot is so I’ll have plenty of room to do some experimenting. One of my plans is to practice some trench composting in the unplanted space. With trench composting, you dig a long, narrow, deep trench, setting the dirt aside. As you fill the trench with your compostable materials, you cover it with the dirt, slowly filling the entire trench. When the trench is full, you dig another one, working your way across the plot. If things go as expected, come spring all that material will be decomposed and I’ll have much richer soil for my spring garden.
I still have a kitchen garden to plant up near the house for lettuces and herbs and I’m anxious to get that in. I’ve really had to learn to pace myself since I arrived. There is so much to do and no way to do it all at once. I was getting pretty frustrated and had to learn to take each day as it comes and just be happy with whatever I manage to accomplish. The garden is a pretty big accomplishment and, with fall fast approaching I’m thrilled to have it in!
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