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Sunday, November 2, 2014

From Lawn to Garden: Getting Rid of the Last bit of Lawn for the Spring

It's hard to believe our growing season has for the most part come to an end. We still have some potatoes that I'm experimenting with growing in a container and I'm curious to see if we will get any since it's colder now.
Just because our harvest has almost ceased doesn't mean our work has. If you would like to begin a garden next year, START NOW! That was one of our biggest regrets this year- that we hadn't had this idea to transform our yard into a vegetable garden. If we had, I believe more of our yard would have been able to be converted and more nutrients put into the soil well ahead of time. So, we are trying Back to Edens methods as much as we can. We have a large area to cover and were very grateful to our dairy farming friends for letting us come and get some au natural fertilizer-- what a huge blessing to add this into our soil! Alas, it would take me several trips to cover our entire garden, but some is much better than none. We laid down newspapers, the manure, and then a mulch. We were hoping for wood chips and despite calling tree companies and going to home improvement stores, couldn't get our hands on any. But again, we are doing more than we did last fall and hopefully we will see healthier soil next year.
Here are some pots that produced poorly so we are even strengthening the soil in them as well. I wanted to show this because even if you have a patio garden or do strictly boxed gardens, you still need to put some nourishment back into your soil. You can use rabbit, chicken, cow, or any farm animal's manure really as they are all good sources of nitrogen.
As I mentioned in the title, we are converting more of our tiny yard into growing spaces. We removed our pond and will have a nice fertile area for next spring. Very excited as once the pond was out, we saw how much more land was there than it looked like. We also brought forth a smaller box frame and some pots in the hopes that they will kill the grass under them this winter and we can grow and expand more. Moving grass is a LOT of work, but this should help us out. You could also begin to cover your lawn with cardboard and leaves NOW and that will help you convert your yard (or some of it) into growing space next year without so much back labor.
In the rear of our shed we had these boxes last summer.
They have been moved to the front of the shed to a patch of grass we never got to this summer. Our hopes are that they will once again kill off some of the grass and make it easier to clear the area this spring. If they do, they will move up to the old pond area and grow lettuces there and once again, kill off the last few areas of grass.
Now, the area that used to hold the boxes (in the rear of the shed) has been cleared with minimal work from us this week. We covered the ground with cardboard, manure, and mulch to prepare the area even more since it used to be a stone driveway! We moved the cucumber trellis over and will have our cucumbers growing in the rear of the bed and then another smaller fruit in the front-- although I think swiss chard would do awesome here! We will see.
In the old cucumber bed which was actually very small bed wise last year-- we dumped dead plants all summer under the trellis to prepare that soil (which was also a part of the former stone driveway). We just cleared out the weeds this week, turned the soil, and will be adding cardboard and some leaves soon to help prepare this large area for growing next summer. Perhaps our beans will go in this year although I need to check our crop rotation guide and see what will do best in this corner.
The blueberries are blessing us with some lovely fall foliage and the strawberry plants have grown to a nice healthy size. Hopefully next summer we will enjoy the fruits of our patience and tending. We have plans to add cantaloupe or honeydew next year and are looking forward to supplying a lot of our fruit as well as vegetables.
Now, you may be wondering if all the hard work is worth it. Yes-- so very much!! We are still pulling onions and pretty much at least two meals a day we are still enjoying at least one thing from the garden in our meals. Whether it be salsa, tomato sauce, frozen peas, vegetable broth, veggie soup-- the list really does go on, but YES it has been so worth it! It cut back on our grocery bill tremendously last year and to be honest, it was a harder year as we had to put more time in to preparing the ground and deal with lots of rain and cooler temps than what is normal. We are already looking at our seeds for next year-- and we saved lots of our own which will be exciting to see them grow and produce next summer. We are going to be using lots of Baker Creek seeds this year as man of theirs preformed super well.
So, can I encourage you to try and grow more? Expand and produce more of your own food? It is such a rewarding experience! Do you have questions? We'd love to help-- or do you want to share what you do in the fall to prepare for the next spring?

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