Friday, March 23, 2012

Planning Ahead

It has been a while since our last post, mainly because as the weather has been very nice we are outside as much as we can.  I have also been spending many late hours working on a major update to the Garden Time app mentioned previously.  I am quite happy with the new look but still have a long way to go.  I am not sure the best way to do certain things and still maintain the most user friendliness as well as flexibility for users. 

It has been in the 80’s (F) the last few weeks and we have been setting records for our unseasonably warm temperatures.  Since we both like it warm we are happy but what ramifications will this have on our gardening this year?
We are not the only ones enjoying the warmer weather. :)

Last year we had 7 raised beds, I just completed the fabrication of 3 more for a total of 10.  I think that’s a good number to stay at for a while.  Our yard has been changing over the last couple years.  We cut down some pines along the back of our fence to make more room for the additional 3 raised beds and to get more direct sunlight.  That was a big project.
Pines in the Process of Removal. By Hand of Course!
The trees were planted probably 25 or so years ago in a nice neat row.  I am sure as babies they looked good with plenty of room to grow.  25 years later they were crowding each other out, and pushing into and through the neighbor’s chain-link fence.  Therein lies another lesson.  It is easy to be short sighted and do things that look good and seem right now, but do we anticipate and think about how it will affect things down the road?  As an example, do we eat for the quick pleasure and boost found in sugary snacks, or think about the long term consequences of unhealthy eating?  We may not know what is best but if you think about it there is always something you know you can do better.  That is a big part of why we are going through all the effort to grow our own vegetables, to be able to have healthy food to eat and share.  It certainly is not to save money at this point! J

Our raised beds themselves have gone through some changes.  Changes to grow better / safer vegetables.  We started out with a single 6” cedar decking boards and some top soil we scraped from various places in our yard.  We have been adding more nutrients to improve the soil such as horse manure, compost, and leaf mold.  This helped but it still didn’t produce much and bugs and animals were getting into them.  We added a 12” chicken wire fence around the beds last year but this wasn’t enough.  
First Edition Raised Bed with Short Fence
We had rabbits, dogs (our dogs ate our veggies) and dear!  We are not going through all this work and expense to feed the local wildlife.  This is war!  At the end of last and the start of this year we have raised the walls, put in watch towers (posts that the birds like to perch on) and have a plan to add steal barriers to strengthen our defenses!  Seriously I am not sure if the 4’ posts look cool or silly.  
"Posted Double" Raised beds

After reading in yet another gardening book on how important it is to have good deep soil for the crop roots we have decided to add a second layer to our beds and ordered 8 yards of organic topsoil to be delivered by Bosch's Landscaping.  
What Does 8 Yards of Topsoil Look Like?  Thanks Vanna. :)
Adding a second layer was actually quite easy because the posts were already in place at this point.  The purpose of the posts is to be able to easy put on and take off a 4x4 section of fence (I have to figure out the best way to do this yet).  But why not just fence in the whole bed area instead of around each individual bed? Yes I thought of this but I am hoping that it will allow for different types of protection on different beds.  A finer mesh on some will help keep out moths, and a shade cloth on others will allow for extending the cooler crops growing season.  This is yet another experiment and I am sure that there will be more changes needed in order to improve.  Isn’t that just like our own lives?  We can sit back and coast by but if we don’t keep making an effort to improve ourselves we will likely not succeed, especially as we run into pitfalls and circumstances that demand we bend and change and adapt.  It is actually our heavenly Father molding us into a finer vessel if we allow Him.
Filling the Beds with New Soil

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