Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jason & Julie's Garden

My friends Jason and Julie live in Loveland, and they are planning to upgrade their garden this year.  They have a nice large back yard, with much the back corner getting direct sun for 8+ hours per day.  They've done fairly well with a garden planted into the existing soil, but they are looking to upgrade to some planters for both appearance and performance.

They want to add irrigation, and will run lines to each planter, so that will have to be part of the planning up front.  Ultimately, the garden that is built this year will be expanded in the future.  Jason says the goal is to grow as much food as they can for their family.

After some discussions, we agree that to begin, they will want some long narrow boxes for planting vine plants that will trellis.  This includes beans and cucumbers, which are two of our favorites.

So, then they will place square boxes that are approximately 4' x  4' in front, probably in a straight row, and that will give them plenty of options for their crops.  We discussed the pros and cons of having 1-board high planters vs. 2-board high planters.

There are plants like tomatoes and peppers that are just so much nicer to tend to through the summer in planters that are 22-24" off the ground.  You can work next to them on a stool, and avoid gardener's back.  For these types, the 2-board high planter is perfect.

Then there are others like Sweet Basil, which grows 2-3 feet tall.  Since at the end of the crop, you have to be picking flowers off their tops to keep them vegetating new leaves, you don't want to need to get a ladder to pick them cause the planter starts them 2 feet off the ground.  For these types, a 1-board high planter is perfect.  And twice as easy to load the dirt, to boot!

So, to prepare their garden area, I recommended that they till the soil to level it all and get it prepared for the building of the garden.  Next, they would put weed fabric down on the entire area.  On the area where they will be expanding in the future, temporarily cover with mulch, which can easily be pulled back when the next phase of garden boxes are installed.

This will also make installation of the irrigation system easier, as the soil will already be turned.  They can lay out their irrigation, and it will only take a shovel to easily bury the tubing.

Jason and Julie are highly motivated to do this, and so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds over the coming weeks.

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