Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One goal down: building a trellis

Ok, one garden goal down! I jotted down my list of goals in my last post, and I'm happy to say that I have completed one of them. As I was sketching out a schedule (which is still on the way), I decided I would be more likely to achieve the larger construction goals if I completed at least a few of them while I am on break from school. Because when the spring semester starts, things are gonna get CRAZY.

Building a trellis on the fence where my in-ground garden is going to be seemed like a good and simple goal to start with. Here's a picture of the area. It's the spot between the retaining wall and the fence where the leaves are spread out to smother the grass and weeds.

 I've been thinking about doing this for a while (since last year, actually), so I've had time to debate what kind of materials I wanted to use. I was thinking of using wire fencing and stapling it to the fence posts, but the hubs objected saying that it would probably look "hideous" (his word), and he would rather I use sheets of trellis. The price worked out to be about the same between the two methods, so we came home from the hardware store with five sheets of lattice.

I had the forethought to actually measure before we went to the store, so I knew my fence posts are 8' apart, and about 6' tall. Sheets of trellis turned out to be 8' long and 4' wide. Thus, I got five sheets of lattice and had two of them cut in half lengthwise at the store.

I had a couple of false starts. I originally thought to use some scrap wood blocks to hold the lattice away from the fence. I got my blocks cut and screwed onto the fence like so...

But since the fence posts already stick out from the fence, it caused the lattice to really bow and seem unstable. It also made it a lot harder to actually screw the lattice down because the two didn't always match up if I had the lattice level. With that failed attempt, I removed the wood blocks and simply screwed the lattice directly to the fence posts.

I didn't get the cut in half pieces up. The hubs was out and it would have taken two people to get the pieces of lattice up and screwed on. Also, I'm not sure how it will look since my fence is on a slope. Additionally, see how the lattice sticks out from the actual garden spot? It doesn't line up with the fence post (sad face), so maybe I will put a large pot there and plant something in it that vines. We shall see. I'll have to do some experimenting!

I've seen some really creative trellis designs, some meant to be decorative, and some purely functional. How did you go about making your trellis?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Garden notes and plans for this year

Hi everyone! I've been pretty quiet the past year or so (graduate school is a jealous mistress), but I thought I would share a few thoughts I had from last year's garden as well as some plans/goals I have for this year.

I have to say that last year's garden was pretty disappointing, and it was my own fault. I failed to amend my soil in my raised beds from the year before, and realized too late that there were not enough nutrients in the soil to support healthy plant growth. Also, most of my seed starts failed because I did not water them consistently. I blame this partially on my school schedule (leave about 7am, return after dark), but really, I could have watered the seedlings in the dark when I got home each night. Also, once I did get plants in the ground, I was gone for two weeks mid-July (for a good reason! I was singing opera!) and my non-gardening husband didn't really keep track of watering. The whole fiasco made me wonder...does anyone else have years where their schedule blows up in their faces and their gardens suffer for it, or am I the only one?

I got a few green beans, a few carrots, no tomatoes, no squashes. I did get plenty of jalapenos and LOTS of onions. Go figure.

This year, I am determined, will be different.

I have been reading some interesting books on gardening and composting and am starting my plan early. I'm also making the beginnings of a task schedule to keep myself motivated, and to have the tasks of planting, building, etc. divided into what I hope will be small enough bits to tackle between my school work. That said, the following is a list of plans/goals for my garden this year, in no particular order:
  • Amend the soil in the raised beds with good compost (from my compost pile, and additional purchased compost as needed) and a good organic fertilizer. Whether I purchase this fertilizer in a ready-to-use form, or mix it myself is yet to be determined.
  • Till and amend the soil between the retaining wall and the fence for an in-ground garden.
  • Attach some sort of trellis to the fence for taller plants in the in-ground garden.
  • Add an additional compost bin. I've only got one right now, and I would like to let the materials that are in there break down without adding more for a while. Ideally, I'd add two more, but I'm not sure the hubby will let me get away with that!
  • Attach a gutter to the back of the shed and set up my rain barrels.
  • Start seedlings on time and water them regularly!
There are some big goals on this list, but I think that if I make a schedule and start early (particularly with building the structures, which don't require that it be warm outside), I can accomplish all of these things. I'll be back in a few days with a schedule once I get it worked out!