We had to take a week off from creating/sharing new Dairyfree recipes to start our first vegetable garden (lots of cereal, pasta and peanut butter for dinner this week). We’ve been so busy cooking in the kitchen, April really snuck up on us. We are so excited to start a vegetable garden this year! We can’t wait to share recipes with ingredients fresh from the backyard.
Full disclosure: we know very little about gardening but really want to give it a try. The thought of being able to grow some of our own food is pretty exciting. If you have any tips along the way, please share!
1. Our first step was taking an organic gardening class a few months ago. While it was super helpful with getting us excited, getting started is a whole different story! A few months ago we bought 2 organic herb plants from Wegmans. A kind of test of sorts to see if we could actually keep a plant alive. We’re happy to report, our basil and cilantro are still alive and we’ve used both 2 or 3 times in recipes! With this small victory, we’ve gained enough confidence to move outdoors and try our hand at growing actual vegetables (and maybe some fruit).
2. After months of research and debate, we decided on doing a 4×8 raised bed garden. Raised bed seemed like the easiest method to get started. We bought two 4×8 cedar kits on Hayneedle.com. (One for now and one for when we actually figure this whole gardening thing out and see something grow) Having never used the site, I was a bit skeptical but they had the cheapest prices for what we were looking for and promised fast, free delivery. They came in just 2 days and they’re even nicer than we had hoped. ($96.30 per 4x8x10.5)
3. Now that we have our lumber to make the beds, our next stop was a visit to a nursery. We have several in our area but decided on Meadow Farms because of their large inventory of organic products. We walked in feeling a little silly and overwhelmed but the staff were above and beyond the friendliest, helpful people we could’ve encountered! They walked us through everything we would need and even found ways to save us money! They took time to explain how to mix the soil and gave us some tips to get started. We left with an order for 1 yard of soil/compost mix, 2 bags of organic garden soil and 2 bags of mulch, scheduled for delivery a few days later. ($92.00 including delivery)
4. Do the work! I promise, if you start a vegetable garden you will no longer need a gym membership. We started bright and early. First we needed to find a semi-flat piece of land that gets plenty of sun. We needed to build the beds and get everything ready before the dirt arrived. The bed kits were super easy to put together. After we got them started, Carson carried the weed blocker mat to the beds.
The beds were so easy to put together we didn’t even need directions (or tools).
After we built the beds we put a weed blocker mat on top of the grass, then a layer of chicken wire to keep the critters out ($10 for 2 rolls 2×10 at Home Depot) We cut the extra off with wire cutters.
Carson loves Bob the Builder and was so excited when our truck of dirt arrived! The delivery guy was so nice, he even offered to help carry the dirt to the garden location but we were determined to do it ourselves. Carson broke out his shovel and got to work putting the dirt in the wheelbarrow to dump in our beds.
After 9, or 900 (I lost count), trips with the wheelbarrow, we mixed in our mulch and organic soil. We have a large deer population where we live but instead of investing money in an expensive fence we decided to try a “pest control pop up” ($64.95 at RaisedBeds.com). This product arrived in 2 days and was very easy to put up. The first night, after we installed it, we had a storm with wind gusts above 50mph. I fully intended to wake up and find pieces of the tent all over the neighborhood, but was stunned when it was untouched. The tent has 4 large zipper openings making it easy to access. In addition to keeping the deer out, I think it will keep the garden safe from birds too. We’ll see! Six hours later and we’re all set to plant our seeds. We’re going to save that for another day.
One step at a time! For now we’ll celebrate our raised bed dirt pile.