Thursday, April 29, 2010

600 Pounds of Top Soil Later...

This last weekend I got the garden up to readiness and then in the evening on Sunday got to planting. I had built the two newer boxes, and plotted a third box up top the week before. I started out this weekend by building the last of my raised beds for the year, and it ended up being absolutely huge, probably the largest single box I have in all. My post title is no joke, filling up the new boxes and mixing in some fresh dirt with last year's boxes, I ended up using fifteen 40-pound bags of top soil, yeah, six hundred pounds of soil!

The newest raised bed

zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, and more

It may look like a lot of wasted space in here with that tiny little plant, but this year I'm going with many more seeds than I did last year. The small plant is zucchini, and on the far left are my cucumber seeds. In the middle will be some Japanese eggplant if I can find some. If not, I don't know what else will go in here. Between the cucumbers and zucchini though, they may end up taking over most of this box as it is. I'd like to add at least one more veggie.

the staggered beds from last year, plus the new ones

hot banana peppers (front), cayenne peppers (middle), jalapeño peppers (top)

You can tell from the wood this may be the last year I get out of these landscape timbered beds. Trying to fix the middle box, two of the timbers just crumbled away in my hands so I had to put in a makeshift dirt dam. The jalapeño plants up top are heirloom seeds.

green bell peppers, red bell peppers, carrots, and basil

Here's the new bed I was building in the last post (with all the safety violations). I really intended on just making the one bed up front, but kind of just lucked out with the triangular bed in the back. It'll be hard to reach that one, so that's where the basil is going. Have you priced green or red peppers at the store lately? I have, and that's why this year I've made sure to put at least three of each out here. The carrots (can't see the seeds here) were just kind of a lark, but hopefully they'll turn out, but if not I won't hold it against them.

beefsteak and roma tomatoes

I mentioned last week that my tomatoes were out of control the year before. Out of control in a good way mind you, but they were impossible to manage. This year I'm not going to stake them, but use these cages. Also, instead of eight plants of a bunch of different types, I'm going with just two types; roma and beefsteak. Beefsteak tomatoes are great for salads and for slicing. They're also considered 'indeterminate', meaning they'll yield all season long. They're not your classic round shape, but that's okay, some of the uglier veggies are the tastiest. I have two cages of those. The last type, the romas, are smaller, firmer, and less juicy. These I am growing with the express purpose of salsa making. They're easier to cut up and scoop out, plus they won't over-water your salsa in the long run if it sits overnight.

I learned about tomatoes the most from last year's garden, so that's where the biggest change is, but I'm actually doing a lot of things differently this year. As you can see from last year's initial garden, I've more than doubled its size but still kept it fairly small overall. I've also doubled, maybe tripled, my vegetable variety with a better understanding on root growth and the like. I shouldn't have the overcrowding problems I did either with the way I've laid things out. This year I also took care in what specific types of plants I put out there and kept a mind towards acquiring heirloom seeds and the like. We'll see how it turns out!


  1. We, my other half and I are waiting for planters to be dispatched so we can plant some pumpkins.

  2. Pumpkins sound cool, other than carving them, there's actually a lot you can do with them in different foods.

  3. Nice looking garden Mik. Gotta appreciate any TN residents who dig peppers.

    We like to plant cherry tomatoes. They have great flavor and you can just pop them off, give 'em a quick wash, and eat them. Or if you don't use anything nasty in your yard and are far enough away from roads or other sources of yuck, just pop them off and eat them on the spot.

  4. Very nice, this is why I love your blog, a good mix of everything. I look forward to seeing how your garden does this year.

  5. That's a great looking setup there.

    My wife loves sugar pumpkins. Every year I get treated to a ever growing collection of pumpkin goodies. WE don't grow them ourselves yet, but buy them by the cart full.


  6. @Brian: Thanks! That's how I was raised in Seymour, we just ate the veggies right off the plant, especially cherry tomatoes and green beans!

    @HuronBH: Thanks, I do mix it up quite a bit around these parts. I'll post progress pics along the way for sure, and try to get in a few more recipes this year, haha.

    @Eli: Thanks! It's a quirky, little backyard, but surprisingly all of these bed just kind of fit naturally without disrupting anything. Make some pumpkin posts this year!

  7. Looking great! It's so nice when the seedlings start to poke through the soil :)

    I've been doing similar this week and sorting out my vegetable beds for planting and potting up my chillies/tomatoes/salad plants. I love these posts on the blog!

  8. Now that you are an aspiring Druid, can you please take photos of your scimitar, animal companion and some video of you using the shape-shifting ability? That would be awesome.


  9. My wife has been working on some raised beds in our back yard. I lack a green thumb, but imagine I'll be called on for manual labor from time to time.

  10. Hey Mik! Your garden is looking great! A word to the wise, you may want to give your zucchini a tomato cage too. The flowers turn into the veggies and they can be difficult to see under the foliage. You can check out my pics from last year at Those were only 2-3 plants.

  11. people say there is a kit to make your tomtoes square.

  12. I would have to have some fruit,how about melons?

    I had a class in school where we had gardens, I planted a bunch of lettuce, but it was hard to keep slugs away, carrots were fun also, they would grow all curley.

    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  13. @Zombie Chris: Start blogging those garden posts on your Mini Woes site! Last year a hanfdul of us started a 'gamers who garden' subcult! I think I might be crazy, but the jalapeños might already be poking out!

    @Christian: The wheels are turning my friends, the wheels are turning...

    @Raz Chris: If all you do is manual labor, at least you can eat guilt-free come harvest time!

    @Shelexie: I was thinking of you as I typed this post! I remember your zukes from last year, so yeah, I'll find a way to tame them. If you say 'a word to the wise' are you calling me wise? Heh. Looking forward to seeing your herb garden grow.

    @Derina: Square, really? Color me interested. In researching what to plant this year, I was amazed at all the varieties; purple, striped, tie-dyed, tiny, gigantic, round, ovular, chunky, wavy, smooth, etc.

    @John: I'm trying to talk the spouse into a pair of fruit trees for the side yard, but it may have to wait. And yeah, homegrown carrots don't look like the ones I buy nice and neat in the the bag at the store!

  14. I got my garden planted, hastily, this weekend. It is mostly tomatoes, with a few different peppers thrown in. It is amazing how many people do gardens- almost everyone I know that has a house has one!

  15. Frankly I think I jumped the gun a bit on the planting, you really shouldn't plant before Mother's Day around these parts, but we'll see. Maybe all these cold morning will give them plant tough love!

    Oz, once your stuff start coming in we'll have to start trading produce. The neighbors on both sides of me also have gardens (one is about twice as large as mine) and we trade veggies all summer long.

  16. There it is fokes.

  17. Holy crap! I'm *so* growing those!