Thursday, August 14, 2014

Raised Garden Bed

I'm very blessed in that I have some pretty handy men in my life. If there's something I dream up that I want built either my dad or my husband can do just about anything. A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted a raised garden bed in our back yard to grow some of our own produce. I get so annoyed when I go grocery shopping and can't get a tomato from anyplace in this country; they're all from Mexico. I'm very big on buying American made and especially local when it comes to produce. While our Farmer's Market is making a comeback this summer, the last few summers it had really fallen off, hence, my desire for my own garden. Two summers ago was my big, pregnant summer, so I wasn't really in the mood to fool with the garden that year, so we decided to wait until the following year. Well, last summer, we weren't really sure where Juston's career path was going to lead us and whether we'd be in our house long enough to even see our garden through to harvest, so it got back-burnered another year. This was my year though! It finally got built and we have had the best time with it.
 


We went with a really simple, straight-forward design of a 12 ft X 6 ft rectangle flushed with the fence in the corner of our yard. I wasn't sure about putting it in the yard with the dogs being out there periodically every day. I felt like they may end up trampling things as they grew, but we corrected them a few times when we first built it and they haven't offered to go in it ever since.
 
We filled the bottom half with fill dirt and then the top half with a mixture of top soil and peat moss. We probably should have used top soil on the bottom half as well, but the fill dirt was free so...
 
I made some newbie mistakes with planting and put our cucumbers right in the middle of the plot. Well, they obviously took over the whole garden and strangled out my brussel sprouts and carrots. They have done remarkably well though, so we will have cucumbers and pickles aplenty for weeks to come. I'm going to try and re-plant the brussel sprouts and carrots once the cucumbers are finished in a couple of weeks in the hopes that we can get a late summer/ early fall harvest out of them.
 
From left to right, we have planted peppers (banana, green, sweet), brussel sprouts and okra, cucumbers and green beans, carrots, collard greens, green leaf lettuce and spinach and tomatoes. 
 
 
Caroline really loves to go out and help water the garden and I let her pick the tomatoes and green beans when they're ready. She also loves to pick baby green tomatoes when I'm not looking. I was afraid our tomatoes weren't going to ripen because something was eating them from the bottom anytime one was close to being ripe, so we picked a few green ones and fried them up for supper and it was some good eating! Super easy recipe, too. I combined all-purpose flour and pepper (fresh ground). Then I sliced the tomatoes and salted both sides of them and put them on a plate for a few minutes while the salt drew out the moisture. I heated the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet for a few minutes and once it was hot enough, dredged the salted tomatoes in the flour mixture and placed them in the oil for a few minutes on each side. Perfection!
 
While we're on the topic of things Juston built, I found a stool in Pottery Barn kids I wanted to get Caroline for her birthday and asked if it was something he'd rather build than order, so here is the end product.
 
 
He built it from the picture and dimensions on the PB Kids website and I painted it and ordered the decal for her name from Sparkles and Dirt. I really love how it turned out and this makes it even more special than had we ordered it.  
 

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