Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Things First Vegetable Garden

We're not new to our home, although it does seem like just yesterday that we moved in.

We moved from the big city of Chicago to the middle of nowhere, Illinois, almost seven years ago. In all that time, we've been sitting on just under 3 acres of pasture and woodland and haven't done a thing with it, except for planting a few herbs, flowers, bushes, fruit trees and the odd vegetable.

It's time to get serious and stop day dreaming about a romantic Tasha Tudor homestead and start creating my own.

My husband is planning on leaving the job, that brought us here, in the very near future and will be self employed.  Money is going to be tight.  It's a bit scary but I support him one hundred percent and am determined to help in any way possible.  One of those ways is to discover how to make use of the land we have and make it work for us.

So, first, I'd like to take back the garden plots from the weeds and turn them into proper vegetable gardens.

Hey!  I can hear you laughing from here.  I know.  I know.  It's a daunting task.  It's a mess!  

What's with the cardboard?

Well... Last fall, I read that wet newspapers laid over the weeds in your garden will smother them and they won't grow through it.  I also read that you could do the same with cardboard.   I had lots of delivery boxes in the burn pile, ( a city girl in the country with no big stores gets lots of deliveries) but only a few copies of our local town newspaper, so I decided to use the boxes.  I recruited my husband to help and we went out, broke down the boxes, covered the garden with them, then thoroughly soaked them.  At that point my husband had had enough "gardening" and called it a day.

We weren't finished.  In the book I read, it said to weigh the newspaper down and/or spread mulch over it.  We didn't have mulch but we do have bricks and cinder blocks,which I had planned on using.  I wasn't, however, up to slugging them across the property and placing them in the garden and my husband had already disappeared into the house.  The cardboard would have to stay put by itself.  I highly doubted that it would.  Surprisingly, the cardboard stayed where it was laid all winter. It lay there, either wet or frozen as the wind swept the oak leaves out of the woods behind us to get caught in the cardboard.  It wasn't until this spring when all the early tornado activity started that the cardboard started flying across the property, sending me and the dogs to chase it and retrieve it.  I think there's still a couple of pieces in the woods. 

I believe it's going to work.  We'll remove the majority of the leaves and build raised beds on top of the cardboard.  That should keep the weeds down nicely.  We'll mulch or put pavers ( I have DIY paver molds) down between the beds. 

I have our composter close by, to make it easy to add compost to the garden.

I didn't want a compost pile because of all the wild animals that frequent our property.  We back onto Sand Ridge State Park, and an open compost pile would be an open invitation for some of them to a buffet. 

The challenge is on.  I know you might have your doubts about that garden and I don't blame you.

I'll keep you posted.

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