In May of 2013, I decided to built my first fancy raised garden. Our daughter had been born the previous year and she was just starting to eat solid foods. We needed to find a way to provide her with the healthy organic foods that she needed while not breaking the bank.
So I started the consult. My wife and I talked about what our goal was, what was on our wish list and our budget. From there I put together a design that met our needs.
We ended up with a U-shaped design that had a trellis along the back. This would be what the tomatoes and cucumbers could climb up.
Construction started off quite slowly as I was trying to build a square garden space in an un-square backyard. This was going to require the delicate touch of a seasoned professional so I enlisted my neighbour who just happens to be a former contractor with a lifetime of experience. So we go about ‘squaring’ the garden using nothing but our eyes at this point and I had to ask ‘ How do we know it is square?’. ‘You just have to use your eye and you will know’, he replied. Oh, I had no idea it was so simple.
And thus began my first fancy raised garden project. After we had the ‘squaring’ sorted, I was able to complete the remainder of the work in less than a day. The garden was ready for planting.
Plenty of Growing Space
Everything in the garden started growing as expected, it all seemed to fit nicely, there appeared to be plenty of space for the beans and peppers to coexist. The radishes and squash seemed like a great pair and the tomatoes were making their slow ascent to the middle of the trellis. All was well in our little garden so we went on vacation for a week in late June.
We came back to find my first mistake. I hung the door to open inward but I couldn’t open the door because the squash plant had decided that it required the entire garden to exist included the space immediately in front of the door. This would need to be trimmed back which became my life’s work for the rest of the summer. I trimmed back the tomato TREES, the squash bush and the out of control fennel.
Who knew fennel could grow so large?
Right off the vine...
I also had the beautiful experience of taking my daughter out to the garden and her sitting and playing on the rock walkway as I picked cherry tomatoes off the vine for her to eat. She hasn’t touched a store bought tomato since and that trend goes for raspberries as well. Another wonderful outcome of the garden was that we were able to share. That same neighbour became the daily recipient of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, greens and squash as our little ten by ten garden produced more than we could handle.
Lesson 1 in small scale gardening complete!