Farm, Garden and The Land > Show Us Your Garden

Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1

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In the 10 months after I started this thread my backyard has undergone a transformation from an overgrown mature landscape into an increasingly productive garden plot.   This thread (as well as the “chapter 2” thread, which picked up in January 2010 where this one left off ) documents the progress I have made teaching myself the most basic and fundamental skill of producing my own food.   

My home is in a downtown historic district in northern Georgia and at the widest point my lot is only 70 feet wide.   Not large by “homestead” standards, but 3 times the size of what the Dervaes family lot that produces over 3 tons of food annually. 

Jack asked me to write this intro so that this might be linked via “Save our Skills”.   Besides a square foot garden construction primer, these threads include a pretty nice rain catch system design and installation, some basic fence and shed building, installation of an asparagus bed, as well as the beginnings of my experiments with high density bamboo trellis.  Mainly they include a lot of pictures, around 350 at last count.   

Hopefully these give confidence.    I possess no formal training in carpentry or agriculture or really anything hands on; I have a “whitest of white”-collar career. 

Prepare to learn by reading but learn by doing.
Make some mistakes.  Kill some plants.  Grow some food.   Enjoy the freedom that follows.



June 2009:
I previously posted a thread about a mega compost effort I undertook in anticipation of a new SFG to be constructed in my backyard.  The compost cooked off faster than I thought it would so I got busy turning 400 sq ft of zoysia sod into 5 raised beds.  (I took some pics along the way with a decent camera as well as my crackberry camera, so the quality isn't consistent. )

First- my backyard as it was, as viewed from my back porch/sunroom, with the laid out square (just under 20'x20').


Lizzie's house overlooking the lawn:

(Lizzie was the last person to live in the house- it was built as servant's quarters to the main house back in 1870)

Next I started pulling the sod manually and decided after a row that a sodcutter would in fact be the only way I could pull the sod up before the growing season was over.

Sod up and moved to other spots in the yard:

Next- leveling and building the beds

BTW, I pulled the sod so i wouldn't have to mow or maintain in between the beds.  I also could use it in some bare areas, so it seemed like the thing to do.

Next, I constructed the beds out of the 2x6's that had been drying out for a few weeks on the porch of Lizzies.  Before i put them together, I wanted to paint the boards - Mrs Cohutt insisted on something that looked halfway decent.  I ended up putting 2 coats of stain on it, the darkest stain that Homey Depot had - "slate" i think.  Why dark?  White looks good clean but i doubted that it ever would be clean, so I opted for the darker color.

1st coat of stain before i cleaned up and leveled the dirt where the sod was:

I built 4 8'x4' beds and dropped them roughly where they would go.  I also cut the weedblock cloth around the edges I will eventually tack down

From the back window:

Hare of Caerbannog:
Nice start.
Well done.

Next - placing the beds in their final spot and leveling, followed by lining the whole thing with a couple layers of cardboard boxes.  Once I had this done I put a couple inches of cypress mulch over the cardboard in between the beds.

Some shots of it all prepped and ready for dirt, but without the center 4x4 bed:

I finished the center bed last week and installed it as well:

Last saturday I picked up the peat and vermiculite to mix with my compost then spent the better part of the day mixing up a half bed at a time of "Mel's mix" using a sheet of plastic as a tarp to roll it up and together. It was well mixed when i put it in- this method works very well.

Sunday I put the two top posts in and built a mini retaining wall for the 5" or so I removed from the grade along the top edge while leveling.  Finally I planted a few things some corn and beans mainly- had to get something in the ground now even though my original goal was to have it ready for a big fall crop.

We are keeping my brother in law's dog currently (thankfully we are done tommorrow) and I was afraid he might dig some in the morning when no one was home and he was in the back yard.  I covered as much as i could but sure enough the little bastige got all in it and I had to replant some last night.  This was after making a cheap temporary fence out of deer netting to discourage him and the various cats from getting into it anymore.
It seemed to work so tonight i cleaned up some a snapped a picture or two of the progress. There is some plastic mesh over a couple of the beds still and you can see the surveyors tape i tied into the deer netting as well.

All in all I am pleased so far but still have a lot to do- I plan on putting a low fence around it, something to deter dogs and cats down the raod and to keep it somewhat visually segregated from the lawn as well.


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