Fair warning: This is a really long post about my garden. Hopefully you'll read something useful in it.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my goal this year is to have most of my fruits and all of my vegetables supplied to my family through a garden that my friend and I are working on together and also through my own garden and trees at home. I'll be supplementing my fruits with wild grapes, blackberries, prickly pears, and more. The idea to make a garden of this magnitude began when my friend approached me and told me about the boxes of seed packets she had gotten for free. A mutual friend of ours is allowing us to till a portion of his land for us to plant our garden on, which also includes no cost well water to water the garden when the weather isn't doing the job for us.
We first decided we needed a 60 foot wide by 40 foot long garden with walking paths. After my husband looked at our garden plot and saw all that he would have to till last year, we cut it back to three 40 foot long by 4 foot wide rows separated by two foot wide pathways. After retilling the garden this spring, my husband and I then divided the 40 foot long rows into three 40 foot long sections with water burrows to water the garden from the bottom for less evaporation when the heat of summer hits in about one month from now. Basically, we have about 480 square feet of garden to use between four adults and three children.
All leftover food from our garden that we don't use immediately will be first canned, frozen or dried and used by us during the off season, and second given away. We've also thought about selling at the farmers market if we have enough, although I don't think we will. Our mutual friend is welcome to take what he needs from our garden and the two other gardens planted by others on his property.
Since this is our first year gardening on this scale, we decided to plant traditional and easier garden plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, various peppers, onions, squash, cantaloupe, watermelons, pole beans, a lettuce mix, beets, and three 20 foot long rows of sweet corn. We are also growing herbs such as dill, cilantro, basil, oregano, green onions, thyme, and sage. These herbs will act as insect detractors and pollinator attractors, as well as add flavor to our dishes at home. I've designated my three boys as our main source of insect control, well mostly because I can't mentally handle caterpillars.
Right now our garden is just a little over two weeks old and so far everything has sprouted except a few of the tomatoes, the peppers, the cantaloupes and watermelon (these were planted later), and I believe one herb. To date, this is what our garden looks like:
First 40 foot long section consisting of green onions, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beets, and cilantro:
Middle 40 foot section consisting of cantaloupe, pole beans, onions, herbs, jalapenos and our salad mix:
Third row planted with three 20 foot rows of sweet corn, a watermelon patch, basil and sage:
When the idea came to plant corn this year, I was uncertain at first on how to plant it. My mother and stepfather moved to the Amarillo, Texas area when I was very young and helped raise corn and I remember snacking on fresh uncooked sweet corn as a child so I knew it was something I wanted to at least attempt. I know my kids will love picking their first ears of corn (and picking out any caterpillars therein), but where in the world did I start since I am not in contact with either my mother or my ex-stepdad?
So, I took my cue from the Native Americans of the American Southwest:
Which actually worked quite well. I poked a hole into the ground with a long stick, while my husband dropped a couple corn seeds into the hole and then my children followed and covered up the holes with dirt. We had 60 feet of corn planted in about ten minutes.
For now we are concentrating on keeping the soil moist while all the seeds germinate. When we tilled we amended the black clay soil with bone meal, bat guano (aka poop), and a small amount of wood ash. When the plants are little taller, I'll be fertilizing with Miracle Grow which I have found works very well for North Texas in my own home garden. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work we'll have a good harvest during the summer and fall. In fact, it's not much at all right now, but hopefully in a month that will have all changed.
Y'all keep your fingers crossed for me.
PS: Miracle Grow has never heard of me, although if they want to send me free product they are more than welcome.