Building raised beds? You’re going to need a compost

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I’m back! Holy moly it’s been 3 years! yadda yadda yadda … got married… had a kid… still gardening, ha!

Today’s post is about composting. Boring… nope! I can’t get over the fact that the million breakfast egg shells we discard every year, combined with grass cuttings, one trillion weeds, rotten vegetables from the fridge (guilty), and fall leaves manage to decompose into the most beautiful black earth you will ever see.

3 years ago, we built nine raised beds. One of them is enormous and obnoxiously deep. I added hay to the bottom of this bed in its inaugural year to save soil, and every year the dirt sinks a half foot or so as the hay breaks down.  If I had to fill that bed with purchased bags of soil, I would be broke and there would be no money left to justify those yummy iced coffees from Urban Almanac (that giant ice-cube is glorious).

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So Zach took on the task of building a compost. In classic Zach-Roxy fashion, we disputed who’s design was best. In the end, Zach won, and a little piece of garden design was his to call his own.

Bottom line- a compost is absolutely necessary if you have raised beds. Each year you will need to top up your beds a bit as soil is lost through weeding, pulling out plants, and because it compacts down with time. Not to mention it’s important to give back to the earth to ensure bountiful harvests in future years.

What’s the science behind composting?  I don’t know! Just throw it all in and hope for the best! Works for me!

A compost provides you with great soil, and it’s free!

HAPPY GARDENING EVERYONE!

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The Edible Garden, as they say…

 

 

 

Summer is here! I love the sun and heat and so do my plants! I was getting a little worried, watching the poor things struggle through the heavy rain and cold June. But alas, a few hot days and yahoo! Here they are 🙂 We’ve started to enjoy kale salads and look forward to the beans, lettuce, basil, potatoes, zucchini, brocoli, cabbage and oh, so much more. I plan to drink as many glasses of sangria and mint mojitos as possible in this garden and hopefull by winter, I’ll have harvested enough mint and camomile for cozy tea.

Welcome

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Before & Afters

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Oh In the Month of May…

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This is what I call a Master Plan!

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May was a busy month! In addition to finishing up reports for Farm to Cafeteria Canada and working for the New Brunswick Food Security Action Network, well… life happened! Getting out into the garden is where I find the most peace. It’s where I re-energize. I can spend 5 hours straight lifting heavy boulders, turning over heavy wheel barrows of dirt, and coming home covered from head to toe in dirt or water from the rain, and well… I couldn’t feel better. I hope you all enjoy the progress pictures. I’ve loved every second I’ve had out there.

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My amazing friend Morgan!

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I decided a nice path was in order. Fist step was to dig out a path… …then lay down some of this matting which helps to prevent weed growth in between the rocks.

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 My friend Courtenay and I dug up these rocks last year from the construction site behind my house. After hours of climbing MOUNTAINS of dirt, and carrying heavy as all hell rocks, scratching up our legs and arms, and sweating to the point of hallucination and many laughs, we had gathered enough. I wasn’t sure where I would use them but one year later they definitely have come handy.

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Had the Inspector come by the site today…

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Et voilà! More to come!

Sneak Peak

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Spot Roxy and Rico

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Tada!!! Yep, I built this!

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Rico approves of the new perch!

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Thank you to everyone who has helped cut cedar planks (Peter and Maddy), move wood (Peter, Zach, and Gina), level the ground and place the frames (Leah!), and build and move boxes (Shaun, Kate, Zach, Jarred, and Leah!).

Next step of the process… figuring out the different spots for all the plants! Soil comes in on Wednesday!

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A lil’ extra love

My garden is full of hearts! Really. Last fall I  was surprised to dig up a little glass heart jewel around my compost. I thought it was cute and a fun trinket that had found it’s way into the garden  (placed there by past owners during the house’s 70 year history perhaps?).

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Heart found in September

As I was officially tilling up the dirt in the backyard (a big day!), I was so amused to dig up a beautiful blue glass heart once more- many metres away from where I had discovered the first! I feel it’s a sign. A sign that the garden and house are full of love and positive energy.

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Heart found in April!

I took the seedlings outside yesterday, as I spent 5 hours tilling, and figured a 20 degree day can only bring out the best in both the plants and myself. With a tan on my shoulders (I changed out of the denim shirt and black pants pretty quickly as the sun beat down on me), I sat back at the end of the day and was full of happiness. I went a bit tiller crazy and dug up a large portion of the front lawn. Look Zach! We’re going to need more plants!

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Enjoying the sun outdoors

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Back indoors for these little guys

We’re finishing up all of the boxes today! I have a new friend coming over to help and I can’t wait to be outside all day.

Good Things Come in Three

Working away on the raised beds today. There’s still 6 more to build of various heights. Looking forward to when the rest of the cedar planks come in. This will have to wait until we get back from a much needed trip back to Alberta to visit friends, family, and the mountains. But stay tuned! It’s just a matter of weeks now.

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Timbre

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Today was lumber yard day! After many revised calculations and “shhhh… I’m trying to count in my head”, I finally headed to Devon Lumber to pick out my 2x8x8′  cedar boards, 2x2x6′ supports, and 4″ and 3.5″screws. Do I know what I’m taking about? I’m proud to say that as of this week I do. Although I have realized how stubborn I am in not letting others teach me.

If you know me well, then you know my inner dork could not be contained as I danced around the lumber yard, pretending to be a Jedi gardener. Many thanks to the Atkinson men, who were very helpful and are always supportive of my personality!

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Family Tree

Family Tree

This Sunday  I begin building raised beds and look forward to sharing the process with you. I will most likely wear red plaid and pretend to be a lumberjack all day long while drinking coffee. Wish me luck!

Quirks and Quark

Today couldn’t have been a more lovely day. It started with a stroll to the market to pick up ingredients for Easter Brunch. I picked up some Jeff’s Best Buckwheat flour for my secret blueberry banana pancakes, Armadale quark cheese for my German cheesecake, also known as Käsekuchen, and eggs to colour! My childhood has always consisted of preparing an Easter basket that my family would take to the Polish church to get blessed. This consisted of a priest splattering holy water over hundreds of beautifully decorated baskets that would be brought in by enthusiastic Polish families, who were last seen at church on Christmas eve 😉

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Today also marked the first day I was able to peg some stakes in the ground and plot my raised beds for the garden.

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Rico and I had a good time outside and look forward to many more days out in the garden! I also faced my fear of using a metal measuring tape. Please tell me someone else hates using these metal “paper-cut-like” devices (note the unnecessary glove I’m wearing for protection.) We all have our quirks…. and our quark (looking forward to eating that cheesecake and dreaming of raised beds).

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Official “Before” photo

Making Lois Proud

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Water-logged- a clear indication of heavy use

Although I never had a chance to meet Lois Hole, my idol and mentor, she has shaped my aspirations and life goals. Lois engrained the concept that every child in this world should spend time in a garden and know how to grow their own food. Communities have the capacity to support one another, and there’s no better way than using food as a way to catalyze this support! She was also known for giving anyone and everyone a hug- a trait I can easily relate to.

Aside from the philosophical impact Lois has had on me, she has increased my confidence in gardening ten-fold, due to the simplicity of her  gardening books. My bible, truly, is her book: Vegetable Favorites.

This being said, I have started to plant some seeds from Hope Seeds, a wonderful company that focuses on heirloom and organic varieties! This will be my first year planting in the Atlantic- let’s see how this goes!

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Hope Seeds

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Providing an early start

The Plan:

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Preparing for 2013

It’s mid March and I cannot wait to get into the garden. Every morning I look outside and ponder if the snow will finally melt away.

In the fall, I decided to try lasagna gardening! No, I did not lay down a layer of Catelli lasagna noodles and tomato sauce and hope for the best. Instead, lasagna gardening is the process of alternating green and brown garden matter in such a way that rich soil is created for the upcoming year. See here for a better description of how this is done!

Step 1: Suffocating the grass

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Step 2: Alternating green and brown garden matter

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In the process, I realized I created an optimal mouse nest all around my house (typical). Thank goodness, Rico, my cat is an excellent hunter. See Exhibit A (unfortunately this was a midnight gift).

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Step 3: Wait and dream…

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I’ve got lots of updates to provide in the upcoming days, so check back soon!

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