In 2021, I have resolved to continue to cultivate my gardening skills and knowledge. I aim to grow more this year as many are.

GETTING STARTED – Background of my gardening journey.

I currently have 2 raised beds that were built in the summer of 2019 and cost us a total of $40. That’s all thanks to thrifty saves of discarded cedar beams from a construction job. The screws and 4×4 corner posts were what we spent money on. They have proven to be very sturdy, despite some rot and being in the weather.

May 2019
July 2019
October 2020 (added temp. fencing and mulch)

Prior to those two raised beds, I had a nice, rocky patch of dirt I tilled a few times, as well as a feed trough filled with topsoil and compost. I dabbled with plant starts I purchased from my local garden center of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and summer squash and had mild success.

May 2014

The last two years, I have started my seeds indoors with a grow light. Last year was a complete fail as most of my plants were wimpy due to lack of seed availability. I had to resort to the previous growing year’s seeds. I was also very pregnant and not able to give them the attention they needed to thrive better. I ended up with plant starts from our local nursery.

FUNDING – Patience and Cash.

If you follow along on Instagram, you know we operate almost all of our homesteading projects on a cash-only basis. We are constantly looking to utilize what we have before we opt to spend money. Often times, this makes me a bit impatient but I’d rather wait it out for cash only so we aren’t driving ourselves into debt and once we do tackle whatever project it is we plan to work on – it’s paid for in cash and makes it that much more special and exciting when it’s finally time to cross that project off the list. This also allows for formulating a plan, take time with research, and really try to “master” and steward what our current responsibilities are – basically, grow with the homestead.

Most of the “ingredients” for the garden have been relatively inexpensive but they most certainly could cost a fortune if we didn’t DIY most of it or search out creative solutions. That’s why I’ve started with a manageable size of two beds.

Turning a New Leaf – Changing my mind, learning and experiencing something new.

This year, I will be working on learning a new way of gardening called No Dig. This term is coined by Charles Dowding. For the last several months, I have carefully combed through his Youtube Channel. His blog and youtube channel are wonderful resources for learning about compost, things to consider for No Dig gardening, as well as Succession planting. Where we live, we have very rocky and poor soil. What is so wonderful about the no dig method is that you are making your own soil and improving the soil quality each growing season.

Where we are at – Halfway there.

CardboardNatural/compostable weed barrier – Free – I used recycled cardboard from our local dump. This is a great cost-effective material as I was able to get it for free. Another great resource is to check on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace and local businesses who are looking dispose of their cardboard.

CoveringHorse Manure $20 per load (2 Loads total = $40) – In the No Dig method, utilizing compost, composted manure and green waste manure is suggested to use as a growing medium and build up the dirt. We have a local horse farm nearby and they were kind to load their composted (degraded) manure into our truck for a small donation. Another place one could look for free material would be a farm, recycling center, or landscapers who may have extra dirt or soil they would like to part with for an affordable price.

Edging- Rocks from our property – Free – This will help keep the dirt in an area as it settles.

After removing degrading plastic landscape fabric and ornamental perennial plants, this garden bed is being turned into a No Dig garden for Strawberries.
A base layer of cardboard was added to prevent weeds from taking over. They are overlapping so that there is no space for weeds to pop through easily.
This maple tree, and a few other trees will likely be removed to allow more sunlight to meet the needs and requirements of the strawberry plants. The existing rock border will be re-used in a movable wall that allows for the build up of compost on this sloped spot.
Half of the garden bed is “completed”. Our little Toyota tacoma has composted manure in it from a local horse farm. The compost will act as a base for this garden bed.
Not too shabby for a few hours of work. Looking forward to finishing it in its entirety before March, when the bare root strawberry plants will be arriving through the mail.

Update 2022: This garden bed has produced strawberries, onions and lettuces. This was a success! The only regret I have is incorporating not quite decomposed horse manure as it contained grass seed and I inadvertently “planted” lovely alfalfa grass in over a quarter of this bed. Weeding was not fun. Don’t be impatient and use not fully decomposed manure. It’s not worth the trouble. The end.

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