Talking about lessons from our vegetable garden – plans for the future, and inspiration as we build and design this summer’s garden.
It’s tiiiiime! I’ve been here behind the scenes planning out our vegetable garden, filling our sunroom up with seedlings, and contacting allll the places for materials to build our new vegetable garden. I can’t wait to share our plans with you today! But first, let’s talk about what we learned from our past gardening experience.
What we learned, loved, and didn’t love about our vegetable garden in 2020:
2020’s garden was our year of “let’s use what we have and see if we love gardening or hate it”. (If you missed it, here’s what our garden looked like last year). Here’s our takeaways from last year, and what we’d like to do different when we build a garden this year:
What we loved:
- We loved having a vegetable garden in our backyard. It saved us money, gave us lots of fresh healthy produce, and was therapeutic in a sense.
- We grew just enough for what we needed last year (even though we had a fairly l. We didn’t have much excess (except for cucumbers … which is why we’re going to learn how to make pickles this year!)
- Since we eat mostly plant based in our family, a garden makes a lot of sense for us. We eat a LOT of plants.
What we’re doing differently this year:
- While we loved what we grew last year (the basics), we’d love to have some more variety in our garden this year.
- We bought plants online and locally last year, but this year we’re starting from seed. There’s a few reasons for this! But mainly:
- We’re homeschooling – it’s a great learning opportunity for the kids & gets them involved.
- It made more sense financially to grow from seeds this year, because we’ll be planting a lot more crops and spending money on the structure of our garden.
- Changing the layout. The previous plot wasn’t very efficient and we weren’t able to get a wheelbarrow comfortably around our garden/fence area.
- We’re expanding! We have the space in our yard for a bigger garden, and we’ve been saving up money to build a larger garden with raised beds.
- Planning more crops through the fall months. Since we’re spending money on making our garden larger, it makes more financial sense to use it throughout the year as much as we can so we can maximize the garden.
What we didn’t like:
- The weeding. Constantttt weeding. Figuring out how to combat that with a better plan in place this summer. Of course it comes with the territory, but we are putting some things in place this year that can help reduce them.
I am so glad we went through last year using what we had and learning what we loved and didn’t – it makes me feel a lot more confident in our plans for the garden this year.
Vegetable gardening and mental health:
It’s no surprise, but this past year has been rough for so many reasons. I was talking with a friend last week about how having something to look forward to really helps us mentally to get through the long days in this season of life. When I was talking with her, I realized that gardening is giving me that. I love working on projects, and gardening is such a physical manifestation of hard work and planning. When you garden, you literally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you grow crops in a garden, you constantly have something different ready to grow, fruit, or harvest.
It gives me something to look forward to, and things to keep me busy. And it’s somehow quietly calming. Last summer, my favorite time of the day was when the sun was going down. After a long day, we’d sit outside, let the kids run in the yard, and talk about what we’d love to do with our property someday. PS – I use “property” lightly … we just have a little over an acre! But for some reason it feels a lot bigger than that to us.
Our garden plan for 2021:
OK are you ready to see our vegetable garden plan for 2021? First – let me say this is a rough draft. It’s not the final space things will be planted, and it’s more of a helpful tool to see how many plants we should plant and plan for, and how much lumber and building supplies we needed to purchase. We won’t have all of these things in place this year either (like – we’re adding 2-3 blueberry bushes each year, and won’t have them all in this year.). The flowers won’t go in those places either – I was just planning out how many we’d be able to fit into our existing space. But it’s a rough draft!
(PS I used Farmer’s Almanac Gardening tool to plan out our garden. I did this last year too – it’s SO helpful and free for a week before they ask you to pay for a subscription.)
To give you an idea of scale, the long side of the raised garden beds are 32 feet, and the shorter side of the rectangle is 24 feet.
Yep. That’s a bigggg garden. *sweats nervously*
BUT the raised garden portion is actually only about 8 feet out from where our current garden plot is, so it’s actually not a much larger footprint in our yard. But we are maximizing that space and making it work a lot better (and harder) for us and our needs.
We have a LOT of building and hauling ahead of us. I’ll try to share it in my Instagram stories so you can see a real-time look at how we’re doing it!
Problems we’re running into (already):
Lumber. Lumberrrrr 😩
We originally planned on having lumber be the sides of our garden beds, and also act as a fence to keep critters out.
Then lumber became so stinkin’ expensive. Never has this felt more true:
So – the name of the game the past year or so has been “pivot”. I researched all the solutions we liked and could actually afford, and I found this more affordable solution of using corrugated steel roofing sheets to fill in the sides of the raised garden beds. We planned on building a base of cedar, and then adding the metal pieces in between them. Kind of like this blurry picture I took off of Lowe’s reviews photos:
We priced it out, got it to fit within our budget…and then called around to 91237474 places and realized there is NO CEDAR around. At all. No one knows when they’ll get it back in stock either.
Ok, pivot again.
Now we’ll be using pressure treated lumber, and making sure it doesn’t come into contact with the soil, because we don’t want chemicals from the wood leaching into the soil. This is not my first choice, but it’s quite literally the only way we can make these beds work at this point!
Metal and wood raised garden bed inspiration and ideas:
To give you an idea of what we’re going to attempt to build, here’s some metal and wood gardens I’ve found around the internet. I hope this gives you some good ideas if you’re interested in looking at this kind of garden for your home too!
PS – I have a LOT of garden inspiration, tips and ideas on my Pinterest! Make sure you’re following me there!
We’re planning on doing a similar enclosure around our garden. Although it won’t be the same as this one, it’s a good visual for us as we plan ours out! We have to worry about deer where we live, so this can keep them out. The stones on the ground are also very similar to what we’re planning on putting in our garden.
This garden box is very similar to the ones we’re planning on building:
My friend Stacie has a really good tutorial for her boxes on her website too – we’re going to be using her method with the steel corners so the pressure treated lumber doesn’t come into contact with the garden soil. Check out her whole tutorial here.
Another variation of the metal + wood raised vegetable garden bed:
The bottom picture in this graphic is very similar to what we’re planning on doing in our yard! We just will have it on a much larger scale.
At least one place in our garden, I want to have a dreamy archway with climbing vines on it. Maybe not this year, but it’s inspiring to me for the future!
Finally, this website – Growfully– has been really helpful while planning our garden! If you’re looking for a really comprehensive gardening resource, you’ll love checking them out. I loved her plans for raised garden beds too.