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Creating my vegetable garden

Creating my vegetable garden

  • When we moved to Albany, I knew I wanted to start a vegetable garden. At the time, our backyard was just a big square with poorly grown grass and, besides the gorgeous maple trees, very little visual interest. There was no deck or entertaining space. So, we (I) decided that we’d dig up one side of the yard and install a brick patio, with gardens surrounding it. Knowing that the patio project was going to take some time (and nagging at the husband), I got started on my vegetable garden as soon as the snow melted in late March. I dug out the grass and created a space roughly 5ft x 20ft in size.

    I really didn’t know how I was supposed to get started, but figured that digging out the grass was the first step- so I got my shovel! Fortunately, the grass was pretty weak and not very thick, so it didn’t take me too long-a few hours, maybe. The next thing I did was turn the soil, using a garden fork. I removed rocks and used the fork to break through the tough spots- there was quite a bit of clay in the soil. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about soil quality. I decided to take a sample of it down to my local garden store and get some input. The guy who helped me told me that while I did have quite a bit of clay, it wasn’t too big of an issue. I just needed to add some organic material to it, i.e. compost. Clay soil has some benefits in that it retains moisture for longer than say a sandier soil. However, the flip side is that it drains poorly. By adding organic matter, whether it be grass clippings, rotted leaves, or bags of compost- you’ll break up some of the clay particles and improve the texture of the soil. (This is a very basic understanding- if you want more detail, it’s out there on the web!) If I remember correctly, I added about 15 yards of various compost to the soil and manually tilled it into the soil with my shovel and garden fork. I’m not going to lie- it was a workout. But, I’d much rather get my workout in my garden than at the gym. (Just remember to use your core muscles and not your back! ) Anyhow, don’t skip this step, as it’s an essential part to gardening- you have to get your soil in decent shape. If you spend the time getting your dirt in order- you’ll be rewarded. From here on out, you just have to upkeep the soil by continuing to add compost from year to year.

    After I worked the dirt as best I could, I placed 12-inch pavers around the entire garden so I’d have somewhere to walk. I made the width of my garden just 5ft so I would be able to reach the middle from both sides. If you’d like a wider space, just think about making paths so you can get around easily without trampling your lettuces.

    Here are a few photos from before and after:


    I don’t have any great “before shots” – not many taken of the side of our yard that was dug up. You can see the grass was not in good shape and just blah. The puppy playdate is just an added viewing bonus!

    Doesn’t look like much, but it changed my life. Truly.


    A little closer view, beginnings of sugar snap peas and lettuces. More on that later…

    June 20th, 2011 | girl has thyme | No Comments | Tags: ,

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