Where did May go? Seriously! We definitely felt the rush of spring planting here on the urban farm! With so much going on here, I need to apologize for not getting out my weekly blog to you guys for the past three weeks. Honestly, at the end of the day, I was just so wiped that the thought of doing one more thing… well, I just couldn’t! I will try harder to carve out the time to keep up with posts, but with summer veggie production around the corner, my blog may need to take a backseat (but you can always check out my updates on Instagram at tacklemayhem_susan or follow Jason at tacklemayhem_farms). In that case, I will aim to get one out every other week instead of weekly. Bear with me, and I hope the information I do get to you is worth the wait. Thank you to my loyal followers and readers, I sincerely appreciate all of you that take the time out to read my posts! Y’all are the reason I do this!
So you may recall that in the last garden update I left you with us tilling up the big garden. This post will pick up where I left off there. I’ll tell you how we finished creating the big garden, and how we did it on the cheap. Although we have since planted the whole thing, if I put all of that in this post it would be very very long. So I will get another post out soon with all the planting that we have done.
We do have multiple other beds and planting areas that we are gardening in, but this is the largest one we have made thus far. I will update on those in a further post as well!
After tilling, the next step was fencing. We choose chicken wire to keep the kids and dog out. We got a roll of 150 ft of it from Tractor Supply for $50. As the large bed measures 39 feet long by about 20 feet wide (once you take the outside walkways out), and we only needed to fence 3 sides, this was an ample amount of wire. We started by driving t-post metal stakes ($1.50/each) into the 4 corners of the garden and then laying out the chicken wire around the perimeter. We attached the wire to the posts with zip ties.
For the sides of the garden, we used wooden stakes to keep costs down instead of doing t-posts throughout the whole perimeter. To bring costs down even further, we made our own wooden stakes instead of purchasing them pre-made. We cut long pieces of treated 1×2’s down to the size we needed (8 ft long, $2.17 each).
Then Jason cut an angle into the bottom of the stake to make it easier to drive into the ground. The black mark on the stake is how far we wanted to drive each stake into the ground.
Then we measured where we wanted each stake to be placed and laid them out.
We splurged and bought a post driver ($20), which made the process much smoother and quicker! Once the stakes were driven in, we attached the chicken wire to the wooden stakes with a staple gun. When that was done, Jason made a little wooden gate at the end by the garden boxes and our economy fence was complete!
Finally we made it to the fun part: shaping the garden beds! We decided on 30 inch beds with 18 inch walkways. Most of the research we have done shows 30 inch beds to be the most productive size for market gardening. This allowed us to create 4 beds of 37 feet by 30 inches within the space allowing for walkways. Jason took some wood scraps and cut them down to 30 inches and 18 inches to allow us to space the beds easily.
He then strung twine along the garden using the spacers he made.
This showed us where to till further for the walkways. What we tilled was then hilled up into the beds to shape them.
Our little tiller did most of the work hilling up for us.
While we would love to have drip line for the garden, it isn’t an investment that we are able to make at this time. Jason found this system at Home Depot for around $20. It connects to a standard hose and has 3 separate sprinklers than can individually rotate up the 360 degrees. We tried it out at this point to see if it would work. It gets to about 95% of the large garden and does reach both large square beds at the back of the garden. We decided it was a great watering option for now since we do hand-water the other beds from our rain barrels, and we can get the few small spots the sprinkler system misses. Down the road, drip tape will still be the goal!
Next we amended the soil in the beds we shaped. Jason purchased 1 cubic yard of local organic compost for only $30. While I admire his ingenuity in getting the compost in his small car, and keeping it clean, the goal is to pay off the car this summer and get a truck. Any farm – even an urban farm – needs a truck!
We used a wheelbarrow to dump the compost onto the beds. Then we spread the compost evenly using a garden rake. Last, we used a pitchfork to aerate the soil and blend in the compost.
The final step in creating the large garden plot was to define the walkways with wood chips. This also helps keep weeds down in the walkways. We get our wood chips free from the city, which is a great perk! I like that it also gives the garden some aesthetic appeal.
As you can imagine, this process took several days, and we starting planting immediately after we completed the work! I can’t wait to show you everything that we planted and how far it has come already! Our first ever CSA pick-up is tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited!
Have you done any large garden projects this summer? I’d love to hear all about them! Drop me a comment down below or catch me on Instagram as tacklemayhem_susan. Until next time, have a beautiful and blessed day!