Garden Blog #1

May 14, 2020

Hi everyone!  As I wrote in my earlier blog post, my mom and I have relocated to Oley, PA to live out the coronavirus pandemic in an area with less people and more open space. I spent a few summers in my teen years in Oley taking care of my grandmother and tending to her vegetable garden, and from that point onward gardening has been one of my greatest passions. Unfortunately, I didn't have many opportunities to garden while in college and although I attempted to garden on the roof of my apartment after moving to NYC, I wasn't very successful.

 

So when I had the chance to move to rural PA for the summer and utilize my grandmother's large garden plot at her house as well as her farm down the street, I jumped on it. I work as a lecturer at Rutgers University and after spending 12 hours grading final exams yesterday, the semester is finally over!  I decided to celebrate by writing a little blog post about the state of our garden (so far) as well as our plans for the upcoming growing season.

 

Main Garden Plot

 

The main garden plot is about 30 by 40 feet and gets full sun.  It is located in a lot behind our house and parking area.  We decided to till the soil since it was extremely compacted from several years of non-use.  However, we are trying to keep the weeds down as much as possible using weed cloth so that next season we can try out no-till growing methods. 

 

Our plan for the main garden plot is shown below (although we have made some modifications):

 

 

After tilling the soil, we began by planting most of the direct-seed plants like corn, beets, radishes, onions, green beans, peas, squash, and pumpkins as well as some transplant seedlings like kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers.  Unfortunately, most of the transplants got eaten by wildlife or sucummed to overnight frost.  Since then we have re-planted the transplants, installed a fence as well as marigolds to keep animals away, and covered the plants any night there is a chance of frost.  

 

Check out some pictures of the main garden's progression below or view a video tour here.

 

 

 

Smaller Garden Plots

 

Closer to our house, there are two smaller garden plots.  In these plots, we have decided to create herb and wildflower gardens, as well as plant a large amount of potatoes and melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew).

 

 

 

Indoor Seedlings

 

Most of our plants were sowed directly from seed or were purchased as seedlings from a local nursery; however, we wanted to try our hand at growing our own seedlings.  So we have sowed tomatoes, peppers, melons, herbs, and more inside and have been growing the seedlings using a combination of LED grow lights and direct sunlight.  When the seedlings get large enough, we transfer them to larger pots so that they can continue to grow. Soon, when the chance of frost is gone, we will plant our home-grown seedlings out in the garden.  Some of the seeds that we used to grow seedlings were saved from my mom's garden from last year - I think saving seeds is so cool and I hope we can save a lot more this year. 

 

 

 

Microgreens

 

I'm also trying my hand at growing microgreens for direct consumption!  I just started this little side project using some leftover broccoli, basil, and cilantro seeds. I'm excited to see what happens.

 

 

 

Fruit Trees

 

At our farm, which is located about a mile down the road from our house, we've planted 6 new fruit trees including apple, pear, plum, and peach. These trees won't produce fruit this year, but we will have to maintain them so that they grow big and strong for future growing seasons. We also have an existing peach tree next to our main garden plot.  

 

 

 

Compost Pile

 

We have a small compost pile located next to our main garden plot where we dispose of kitchen and yard waste.  I'm excited to dispose of waste from our garden produce here and then add the finished compost back into the soil - that's as closed-loop as it gets! 

 

 

 

Chickens

 

We adopted four baby chicks.  They've been growing up in our basement because it's still too cold for them to live outside. Soon they will be relocated to a space that we have cleared for them in one of our outdoor sheds.  The shed has access to a patch of grass for them to graze on.

 

 

 

Drip Irrigation System

 

We currently collect rainwater in a large barrel next to our main garden plot.  Now that I have some more free time, I'm hoping to install a gravity-fed drip irrigation system to keep our plants hydrated!  More details on this next time.

 

 

So that's all for now.  Let me know if you have any feedback on our garden progress so far and stay tuned for updates! Stay safe everyone :)

 

 

 

Click here to read my 100 Sustainable Swaps series

 

Click here to read my article about rooftop gardening in NYC

 

Click here to browse some of my favorite sustainable living products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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