Fall Gardening

Now that the summer is vastly coming to an end, I feel it is time to take my skills to the next level. After the city made my neighbors cut down the grapevine that gave us plenty of privacy. I found myself wondering just what to do with the bare corner in the back of my yard.

Bare corner
Shady spot before vines was cut down.

I had been reading a lot over the summer about things I could grow in the fall and figure why not give it a try. The newly exposed corner of my yard had a good amount of sun and shade. I was a little concerned that the dirt in that area was pretty dry, as the grass was mostly brown, but I figured this had been a pretty hot summer so that could have been the reason why. I wondered if the nearby pear tree roots would be damaged if I dug in that area. I also wondered if the roots from the grapevine, that had just been removed, would be hard to get rid of as well.

I knew the falling leaves too soon come in the fall were going to be a pain since I would need to remove them daily to help keep the garden disease and pest free.I decided to use the resources available to me and not invest a lot of money into this project as I am not sure of the outcome. My fiancee Pawel found some old untreated wood and made some neat fasteners.

To build my 8 x 6 box he needed eight 3×3’s and eight 4×4’s. I figured a height of 8″ would be enough for now. We also used about forty fasteners to secure the wood together. He began the building of the box which would be the second hardest part of this project and require a maximum amount of sweat equity. By the way, it was 90 fricken degrees when we did this.

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When the box was done our next step was digging about 8-9 inches deep into the groundbreaking up the hard dirt, and removing any roots or rocks I came across. Using only a shovel and hoe, I dug and turned the dirt until I was sweating bullets. Pawel was not one to till the soil so this was my job alone.

After that was done, he brought barrels of the hard crusty leftover project dirt from the driveway. He asked me many times was I sure that I wanted to use this dirt. After spending over $500 on our main raised garden, ( you can find pics in my other posting entitled “Inexperienced Gardener”) I was determined not to waste money on store bought soil ever again, so I ┬árepeated the process of breaking up the dirt.

The added driveway dirt and compost from my bin.
The added driveway dirt and compost from my bin.

Once all the super dry dirt was finally broken up to my satisfaction, we added a bag of peat moss and manure and two bags of top soil. I also added three barrels of my own compost. The leftover grass that had dried out in the recycled dirt would add extra nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Any green grass I found with roots would be removed. After all the tilling, digging and mixing, the soil looked marvelous and with close to 16 hours of labor intensive work, the box was finally done and I began the task of planting.

A nice mixter of compost, top soil, peat moss and manure. You can also see this area is about 50/50 split on sun and shade.
A nice mixture of compost, top soil, peat moss, and manure. You can also see this area is about 50/50 split on sun and shade.

Since this is an experimental garden, and it’s nearly impossible to find good looking plants this late in the season. I decided to use all seeds. Yes, I am beginning from seeds in the middle of August. I carefully had been collecting seeds as they went on sale at various stores in my area. English Gardens was my main source since they offered premium seeds at a low price. They also had the largest variety of “Botanical Interest” a brand which had clear instructions and also when to sow dates right on the package.

For a newbie like me, knowing how late I can direct sow and, how long it will take till harvest, is vital to my decision on rather or not I want to invest in the seeds. They also read no GMO’s and rather or not they were Organic right on the packaging. To mark my seed locations I used skewer sticks because they are pretty long and much cheaper than the seed marking sticks you get at the garden store.

I decided not to use all the seeds at one time since the plan is planting in succession.
In addition, instead of taking the packaging and putting it on a stick (which always seem to disappear in my case), I just wrote down everything I planted and then made a simple little graph.

Raised Garden 2 Graph

After the seeds had been planted, I added a Jobes 10-8-4 mix fertilizer to each roll carefully making sure it was about 3 inches from the seeds. I purchased a 3 ft poultry fence at my nearby True Value Hardware for only $10.00 for 25ft (it was three times this amount at the garden store) and secured with some wooden poles. I closed it with a screen we had in the garage and was done. All together we probably spent about $40.00 including the cost of seeds, soil amendments, and supplies. Not too bad for a garden that should last for years to come. Stay tuned for more of my posts as I share my accomplishments and failures as I try to master the art of Fall Gardening.

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Garden ten days after planting seeds.