Building a Garden in 10,000 Easy Steps

garden bedsI suffer from  garden guilt.

Where I live, everyone gardens. Plus I used to grow most of my own food. And here I am, after living on my half-acre for eight years: garden-less. I do have a fenced-in area, safe from deer and rabbits. That got done two (or is it three) years ago. That particular patch of weeds has been deer and rabbit proof for all that time. But that’s as far as I got.

So, determined that this would be the year for building a garden, I made a list of steps I needed to take to get to my garden goal:

    1. Tame the berry vines. I mean really, blackberries, do you have to take over every unoccupied inch of my lot?
    2. Clear a path to the garden so I can bring in topsoil.
    3. Build some raised beds
      • Research designs and pick one
      • Buy the materials
      • Carry the materials to the garden site
      • Carry the materials to the garden site
      • Build the beds in place
    4. Line the beds with cardboard to keep down the weeds.
      • Gather boxes
      • Break down the boxes
      • Line the beds
    5. Fill the beds
      • Buy some topsoil
      • Wheelbarrow the soil to the garden
      • Fill the beds with soil
    6. Plant!
      • Buy plants
      • Buy seeds

Wait, you say, that’s only six steps. Well, nineteen if you count the bullets. However, as in everything in life, the devil is in the details.

Ridding the garden of blackberry vines took several days, and there’s still a pile of them next to the fence, waiting to be shredded or burned. And then the roots needed to be dug out. Boy, do they have long roots!

Seems like each of my six (or is it nineteen) steps followed the same storyline.

I bought some beautiful topsoil to fill my beds. I didn’t really want to dig out the existing sod, and I wasn’t that impressed with the garden’s soil anyway. So, fine, I invested in some nice dirt. The only problem was, the perfect place to dump the soil already had various and sundry other stuff living there. You know, building materials, some old windows I’m saving for a greenhouse, a canoe, etc., etc. So, add however many steps it took to clean all that stuff up, and you start to get the idea.

The part of the yard between where the topsoil would be piled and the garden fence is nice and flat. However, the berry vines liked that environment just fine. So a few more days went toward clearing that area to make a path for the wheelbarrow.

The raised bed plan I used called for stakes to be driven into the corners, but the ground was just too dry and hard. Another trip to the building supply store garnered some two foot lengths of rebar to use instead.

I swear the only way I ever got the first bed built was to make the above list and only concentrate on one of the steps at a time. Otherwise, I would’ve just given up. Maybe that’s why this project has taken me eight years.

I’m not done. I have ONE bed built more or less according to this great step-by-step plan. In it, I planted three tomatoes, one jalapeño pepper, two basil plants, a zucchini, a cucumber, and (wishfully thinking) a mini watermelon.

I sowed seeds for the fall garden in containers: kale, chard, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.  I’ll plant lettuce and carrots between the bigger plants. I’m feeling good about this.

Now, on to the other four beds in my garden plan. I can do this!

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