A Fall Garden Expansion

Garden Expansion

It’s been busy around here, y’all. Like, take your breath, overwhelmingly busy. For months. Life has had one emergency after another, without a moment to stop my head from spinning, and I am DONE with it. Done. I’m ready for Fall. I’m ready for the plants to head into their rest. For the leaves to change, the grass to die back, for cool temperatures and that perpetual feeling that this is the season to rest. To take it all in. To be a little more introspective. To appreciate a slower pace in life for a little while. Am I alone in that? I have always felt like Fall and Winter are life’s built in reminder to slow down and enjoy little moments. To take a deep breath every now and then and just be grateful that you are alive.

I’m ready for that.

But let me catch you up on the last 2 months.

We decided around the middle of August that we really wanted to expand our main garden. I thought that showing you what that process looked like for us might be interesting or valuable in some way. A no-till garden is just done a little bit differently. More gently. Hopefully y’all can appreciate it.

So, here we go.

First I want to tell you that we compost pretty much anything and everything we can. But there is absolutely zero possibility of us being able to make enough compost for an expansion of this size. So… we bought it. A lot of it. Naive little me thought “Oh, I don’t think it’ll be hard to find 15 cubic yards of compost in a rural area. No sweat. We’ll have it in a week or so. Right?” Wrong. So wrong. I don’t know if it’s just the area that I live in, or if being able to source compost in bulk is a common issue, but HOLY TOLEDO… you would have thought I was asking for leprechauns and rainbows to be delivered. No one has it. No one. It took a MONTH of a 3rd party calling around for me in 2 states to find a source. A source that (fortunately) ended up being an hour away.

20190814_172123.jpgWhen the falling apart dump truck finally pulled into my driveway, I jumped up and down and told the driver that he was my hero. I’m sure he thought I was nuts. Y’all, I took giddy selfies of myself next to a mountain of black dirt to send to my mother. It was Grown Up Christmas. I’m not posting those here, because honestly… they’re embarrassing. I have my pride.

Our existing garden was 15′ x 45′ or 675 square feet. We expanded it to 20′ x 50′ or 1000 square feet. So it’s about 33% larger now. To me, it’s gigantic. Despite my current level of exhaustion, I’m pretty excited about the potential.20190815_161519.jpg

We had already staked everything off, so that all OCD/Type A perfectionist quirks could be satisfied.

 

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We had also already spread a few inches of straw down on top of the existing grass, which we had cut as short as possible.

Now, it was time to work. Hard.

We started the extremely slow process of transporting this small mountain of compost to the garden wheelbarrow full by wheelbarrow full… until our gem of a neighbor came over with a tractor and saved us. He saved us days of back breaking labor in the hot August sun. Seriously, I might have died. I’m only exaggerating a little bit.

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While Best Neighbor Ever was saving our skin with the tractor, we (slowly) worked on spreading all of that beautiful compost where it needed to go. Within the proper boundaries, of course.

 

We stopped for the day, I showered and collapsed into a chair. My rear end grew roots, and I didn’t move until the next day. Then I cried. Oh, I cried. So many sore muscles. I couldn’t walk. Apparently I’m old now, at the ripe old age of 35. My husband served as drill sergeant motivator, and convinced me to shake it off. We had more work to do.

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Finished! The dark spots were from bags of mulch that were wet.

We were getting close, though. Yippee!

The last step was to spread some great (untreated, undyed) shredded hardwood mulch on top of that beautiful black gold. This, thankfully, was much quicker than spreading all of that compost.

 

And then we were done! We admired our handiwork and then collapsed in exhausted, dehydrated, sunburned heaps inside in the glorious air conditioning. We’re excited about the new space. We are also planning another expansion. Ultimately we’d like to double the area to about 2000 square feet. The loose plan is to do small-ish expansions every year or so until we get the garden to 40′ x 50′. I’d guess this will take 4 or 5 years. I’m totally good with that time line. I feel like adjusting in increments to the increase space and, hopefully, the increased yield of veggies that need to be eaten, canned, dehydrated and frozen is probably better than trying to eat the whole elephant in one bite. A girl has to be realistic.

Next post: Planting the Fall Garden… and If You Want to See God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans

 

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