It would be oh so nice for gardening to just be dumping some dirt out, making rows, planting some seeds and watching them grow! But OH NO that is not how it is!
Our venture into gardening vegetables in the fall was a learning experience. This year we are going the extra mile in every step along the way.
When I say “we” I mostly mean Roy. I’m usually along for the ride helping make decisions, or doing some of the grunt work or supervising! For over a week we’ve been spending large chunks of most days on getting the garden ready to accept the plants when the seeds, the mirlitons, potatoes, garlic and sweet potatoes are ready to plant.
Again, our friends Chuck and Donna loaned us their tiller and our very gracious neighbor Daniel loaned us his trailer to pick up the tiller, dirt, and other items. We used the tiller last year to prepare the blueberry beds and the small garden in the back yard. This year Roy expanded the garden from 8′ x 16′ to 16′ x 16′. We also prepared an area down by the pond where crawling fruit like watermelon and cantaloupe can grow.
I’ve tried to document with pictures all we’ve done and will try to identify what’s going on in each picture below. I’m already thinking this may become a two part post because I’ve identified over 50 pics I want to share. We’ll see.
The cool weather recently has allowed us to work for hours on end without being drained like the heat does. We were worn slap out and our joints/muscles screamed at us after a few hours and overnight but we’re still standing and I have to think it was a healthy week of working out, at the very least.
Nothing is ever easy. After Roy dug up all the grass where the garden expansion was he had to locate the electrical wire he laid down there last year to run electricity to our storage building. We couldn’t find pictures that showed exactly where it was so he dug until he found it. The tiller would rip up the wire at the level it was, so after finding it he dug much deeper and relaid the line. This was a full day’s project after the two days he spent digging up the grass.
We shopped for more frame lumber to go around the expansion portion of the garden and the rebar to make it all stable and stay in place. Here’s Roy working on putting it all together.
When we bought the boards and rebar we also bought five fence posts to create the fencing for my cucumbers and merlitons to grow all around. Last years flimsy structure that cucumbers grew one was pitiful. This one will withstand a hurricane!
The original gardens dirt/compost/peatmoss and the new gardens just dirt was tilled. Over the course of this week I’d say Roy tilled both gardens entirely 10 different times.
One day last week Roy and I visited three different dirt pit locations to see, price and decide which dirt was best for us. We chose a place called Zemurray Pit a few miles from here. The guy running the place was very helpful and worked with us to get the best dirt before the rains came.
The next day Roy went to Lowe’s to buy the Peat Moss and Cow manure/compost, pick up the tiller and came home to till all that in. After the first tilling four huge bags of peat moss were added, I kicked it apart, raked it in several directions, Roy tilled it and I raked it one last time.
Here’s the bags of cow manure/compost that Roy added and I raked it out. Roy tilled all of the peat moss and manure into the dirt. He tilled for a couple of hours before calling it a day.
He got up at 7:30 am the next morning (I know alot of ya’ll are at work then!) and went to get a huge load of dirt from Zemurray Pit. He brought that home and tilled that into the stuff he tilled the day before. I got up when he came home and had worked for an hour and a day full of fun began for me. What’s seen on the trailer below is what was left after he put half of the dirt in the garden with the nutrients and tilled it.
Here’s the finished product. One 16′ x 16′ vegetable garden that will withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and who knows whatelse! Between doing research, shopping, and labor I estimate 30 hours went into this. Certainly not the simple garden that the garden looks like! It’s amazing what all goes into it!
Here’s the view from the garden of what I call “down by the pond.” The second garden that is down there isn’t as structured as this but many hours of work went into it also.
On our way down there looking back up the hill to the first garden.
Here’s where we tried out growing watermelons and cantaloupe last year. There are some weeds that I knew would only get worse if I didn’t dig them up, so I did. Two hours later I was finished and Roy brought down the hill the remaining dirt. At one point I crawled on top of the dirt to throw out onto the ground chunks of dirt. It helped break them up to get ready to be tilled. Look at all my grey hair. Can’t wait for the blonde stuff to go away so it will all be grey!
This is just the dirt raked out. There are several inches of sand underneath the dirt. After church yesterday we went to Home Depot and picked up more Peat Moss for this garden area and several larger peat pots to move the seeded vegetables into when they get bigger, before they are ready to move outside. .
Here it is after Roy tilled the sand, dirt and peat moss together.
Roy handed me the shovel and sent me off to the front of the storage building to dig up sand that washed down the hill and settled there over time. Roy rescued me and took over the digging going much deeper than I did. He got several wheelbarrows of sand from that spot and dumped it behind the storage building for the garden.
It was tilled before the dirt was added, after the dirt was added and after the peat moss was added. I thought Roy was going to stop at that point but oh no, he kept on.
A lot of the dirt mixture behind the shed was shoveled into around 15 wheelbarrow loads and moved up the hill. It is a steep hill and very difficult to get up with a wheelbarrow. My honey did it though and about every couple of loads he’d rake the dirt over a large area next to the house we’ve been working on to get grass to grow for a while. I have to admit I worried he’d pass out or die at this point. I asked what I could do to help but he kept saying no. He did rest often which is probably what saved my honey from something bad happening.
This is the area he dumped the dirt and spread it out before calling it a day and making a campfire near where Dora use to live so we could enjoy the beautiful weather outside after dark yesterday. The soil mixture that he left behind the storage building is plenty for me to grow the second garden watermelon, cantaloupes, peanuts and maybe a couple of tomato plants there.
Some of the non seed plants we are helping sprout are our potatoes, garlic, mirlitons , sweet potatoes and Brussels sprout plants dug up from last years crop. Southerners know what mirlitons are and how absolutely wonderful the dishes they are cooked in are. When our crop starts producing I’ll share some of the ways we cook it down here in the south!
We purchased three seed sweet potatoes. They are cut up with either two eyes on them or the end for sprouting vines that are pretty. Lots of people grow the vines in their garden just for the leaves, not the sweet potatoes! I’ve learned a lot about the difference between potatoes and sweet potatoes. They are in no way related and grow in very different ways. When the vines get to a certain point they are removed from the sweet potato since they don’t need it anymore. They’ve grown roots by then and the vine with its roots are planted in the garden to grow more sweet potatoes.
The larger peat pots are in the picture below. Our kitchen has turned into a plant sprouting place. You can see the sprouts coming up really well in the other two pictures. We’ve already decided that next years seeds will be planted in the little Jiffy pucks which are the little things in the smaller container in the second picture.
The only thing that isn’t planted for sprouting somewhere are the 100 yellow onion bulbs. Those produce quickly and can wait a bit longer before being planted and can go directly into the ground.
Roy and I love the time we’ve spent on the road sitting around campfires visiting and enjoying the warmth of the fire. We have some old wood we’ve wanted to burn for a while so Roy did that yesterday after it got dark. Chip even came over to join us and got to have some dad/son bonding time when mama went to bed!
This garden project is wonderful for my brain because I am always doing research to find out something about growing some plant. I don’t remember a lot for very long so I document it to go back to when the information is needed. That brings us current on the Chauvin Produce Company. Looks like I fit it into one post!
We are resting, catching up on things like this and a bit of being lazy today! Ya’ll have a Blessed week!