Friday, November 30, 2012

Preparing for Garden Season


The next garden season is a long, long time away for me. First, we have to get our house built. Then we have to save up money to build raised beds. Then we have to [hopefully] have our second child and go through the difficult transition into infanthood all over again. 

But after all that, I want to be ready. I talked with my friend who works at Urban Harvest in Houston, and she gave me some great advice:
  • Start Small: Of course I wanted to start with many raised beds. She advised me to start with one, get a handle on it, and then expand the garden. I definitely see her logic.
  • Install Drip Irrigation: She explained that garden stores sell drip irrigation kits that come with timers, so you can make your watering more strategic and even easier. 
  • Start with Transplants: Of course I had grand visions of starting from seeds. She talked me back down to reality. I want to start as simply as possible, so that I'll be able to maintain what I start.
So here's my general plan:
  1. Ask for this book for Christmas, so I can learn all about the specifics of gardening in Austin.
  2. Create a master vision for where the raised beds will go at our new house. Even though we'll start small with one or two beds, we'll want to see how they will fit into the larger scheme. 
  3. Create a vision for where to plant fruit trees. We should actually prioritize getting them planted as soon as possible, so we give them more time to grow and produce fruit. We might be able to do this as early as February if a) the north side of our house is nearly finished and further construction won't interfere with the growth of our trees and b) we have enough money to purchase the trees.
  4. Start researching the best fruit trees to purchase. I need to visit The Natural Gardener. In fact, they have a free gardening class coming up in Austin. Let me know if you want to attend together!
  5. Start shopping for rain barrels. I think there might be rebates available for installing rain water collection systems in Austin. I need to investigate this a little further. We would save money if we could get these installed while our house was being built.
  6. Talk with one of my friends to see if she's interested in sharing a garden. She loves gardening but lives in an apartment. Our new house is going to be on her way home from work. She might want to share the costs, work, and harvest. 
  7. Find a good internet tutorial for building raised beds (ooh, this one looks good!) or go back to my All New Square Foot Gardening book. We should try to build one as soon as we move into the house (if there's time before the baby is born). Once the baby is born, I don't want to have any major to-do items hanging over our heads.
  8. Create a planting plan and schedule for Fall 2013! 
I'm very excited to get back into gardening. Matt and I had a big (yet mostly unsuccessful) garden in Denver. When we moved to Houston, we struggled with our overly-shady yard. Now we're in a rental house. I can't wait until we're settled into the house where we will hopefully stay for at least a decade or two. It feels good to slowly--but surely--be working toward our vision. By the way, I loved Nichole's post about building a homestead and putting down roots in a community for the long haul. Matt and I are getting closer and closer to doing this for ourselves.



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6 comments:

Sarah said...

Have you thought about taking a Citizen Gardener class? http://www.sustainablefoodcenter.org/grow-local/citizengardener

In the class they teach you how to make a raised bed, basics about gardening in Austin, and maybe even rainwater collection. It's run through the Sustainable Food Center.

Just a thought!

Unknown said...

How big do you want your raised beds to be? I live in Sweden and here people commonly use the wooden structure that goes around freight pallets. You can get used ones really cheaply and it's recycling!

Kelsey said...

Everyone has drip irrigation for their plants here in the desert, I forget that it's not common elsewhere. It's so great for being able to water exactly where/how much/when you want and saves water.

natalie said...

These plans are lovely... might I recommend looking at alternatives for such a large lawn, though? In Texas, we've found that it's nearly impossible to keep a lawn properly irrigated, even a small lawn. We ended up xeriscaping our front yard, which worked well; we kept trying to sod the back yard, which just never took. It was using SO much water to try and keep it going (and we have 2 rain barrels, which wasn't nearly enough) and so we were watering constantly. The sod itself was expensive, and so was the watering.
Just something to think about!

Catfish said...

I recently started a garden. My new rental already had raised beds that I just had to repair, and my land lord is really into sustainability, so he bought me dirt. (Ideal sitch, I know. He also provided bee hives, although I don't really do anything with them).

I started with one raised bed (there are two on the property) and I planted some transplants along with some seeds which I started inside. The transplanted herbs are doing the best. A lot of the seedlings got destroyed when we had a really heavy storm that broke their stems. But I have a few lettuces that are starting to look like lettuces.

It's been hard here in Houston because we're having a super warm fall and the soil has been warmer than usual for fall plants. Also, I'm not like you -- I have to learn by doing, rather than by books and research. But it's fun and I enjoy being outside.

You'll have to come visit the next time you're in Houston!

Sarah Notes said...

I've got the exact same things on my mind...right down to a new baby ;). We'll be in a rental for a bit longer, though, so I'm learning about Earth Boxes and trying to brainstorm some ideas for easy-to-move large containers. I LOVE your idea for sharing a garden--that is really smart! I'm also about to click over to the Natural Gardener site...I'm in Austin, too, so it's something that might be helpful! Good luck with your garden!

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