In the summer of 2007, newly married, we bought a house with just about 2 1/2 acres of land. The majority of the property was in an untended state; close to the house the flowering gardens were becoming overgrown and invasive species bordered one side of lawn near the house. We spent that first summer knocking the yard back into shape, removing the invasive species by hand and dealing with all the things new homeowners typically encounter, like the fact that our paychecks were going almost exclusively to home improvement stores and occasionally for groceries.
By 2009 we had pulled down over 100 feet of 20 foot high invasive bushes (and by “we” I mean “my husband”) and had uncovered and mostly rebuilt an old farmer’s stone wall. The prior winter we had discussed the idea of putting in a vegetable garden, and that spring we borrowed a tiller, bought some fencing, and put in our first garden in a sunny section of our yard. It was about 6′ x 20′. We went to a nearby nursery and purchased 4 types of tomato plants, summer squash, peppers, jalepeno peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, a few pumpkin plants and corn, and crammed them all in. (Well, the pumpkins had to go outside the fence line; there just wasn’t room with the way they spread.) J set up an automatic watering system on a timer and we put down weed block to cut down on unwanted plant growth. It was totally a lazy person’s garden, and we figured we’d give it our best shot.
It went better than we could have expected – so much so that in 2010 we purchased seeds and started them in the basement under grow lights and put them in the ground right after Memorial Day. We expanded and contracted some of our selection, too – and once again we were pleased with how things turned out. We started to think bigger.
That became possible with the purchase of a 1984 John Deere garden tractor two days before Christmas off Craigslist at the end of 2010. Since then we’ve purchased a rototiller and plow attachment, mulching kit and bagger, disc harrow and a 6-gallon sprayer attachment. Because of all these purchases, in 2011 we were able to add three raised beds on the other side of the stone wall, giving us an additional 108 feet in gardening space, expand the original garden to 32′ x 6′, and turn over an area in the back that’s 25′ x 90′.
This year we added a fourth raised bed that’s an additional 48 square feet. Our current gardening space? 2,598 square feet. Did I mention we have full-time office jobs, and I commute 90 minutes each way every weekday?