Planning the garden

Last year was my first year with the large garden beds.  It went really well and I learned a lot!  I used the book Square Foot Gardening as a resource for planning out my beds.  It worked pretty well but this year I am definitely going to be tweaking my plans a bit.  Here are my plans from last year.  They are a bit dirty but that’s because I had them out in the garden with me while I was planting.

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I planted this bed just how I planned.  This bed is being changed quite a bit this year, this was the bed that was kind of  a fail last year.  What I plan to do differently;

1. I will probably never grow tomatillos again.  They get huge!!!  I would really have to have a dedicated space for them because they took over my 4’x8′ bed.  My onions and peppers pretty much did nothing because the tomatillo grew right over them.

2. The squash needed more room.  I was pretty sure that it would but the book told me different so I went with it.  This year I have a whole bed just for squash and zuc.

3. Placement; the cucumbers did really well and grew on my fence which I wanted them to do but they were really hard to get to.  This year I will be planting smaller plants in front of my cucumbers so I can more easily harvest the veggies.

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This bed did really well, for the most part I was really happy with the way things turned out here.  I will be making a few changes to this and here they are;

1. I am going to do less tomatoes so I can give them more space.

2. I am either going to but way down on the amount of collards or not grow them at all.  We like collards but not enough to grow that much.

3. Probably not going to do pole beans in that location.

The awesome thing about this bed was that we were able to harvest the kale, collards and chard throughout the entire summer and into late fall. It was awesome!

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This bed was planted differently than you see here.  I did do a lot of lettuce but I also did a lot of herbs as well.  Here are the changes I am making this year to this bed.

1. I have a whole bed for lettuce this year, so I will have more room for other stuff in this bed.

2.  This bed is going to be mostly herbs and maybe some onions too.  This bed tends to be the mish-mash bed and I am ok with that.

These are the new beds that I have drawn out.  I only have two drawings because two of the beds are the same.

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I have two of these beds and they are going to be for zuc and squash only.  I made two of them because I only intend to put two plants in each bed.  Maybe I’ll sneak something else in there too, something small.

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This bed is going to be for lettuce and spinach only, maybe some edible flowers too.  The great thing about this new bed is that it is in a morning sun location that gets afternoon shade, I think my lettuce with be happier this year.

Along with these beds I also have veg growing all over my yard.  Each of my children have a small wash tub garden and I have lots of container gardens too.  I mostly grow herbs in the containers but sometimes radishes or beets make an appearance in a container too.

I know that the bulk of this post has been boring pics so here are some pics to brighten things up.  This was my garden from last year.

The tomatillo's playground!

The tomatillo’s playground!

Kale, chard, collards tomatoes.

Kale, chard, collards tomatoes.

Lettuce and herbs

Lettuce and herbs

Lettuce and flowers

More chard and flowers

Herbs and flowers

Herbs and flowers

Anwen and Esu's garden

Anwen and Esu’s garden

Ewan's garden

Ewan’s garden

Some perennials

Some perennials

Looking back at these pics from last year makes me so excited about this new growing season.  I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt!!!

Coop construction/yard work day

This past Sunday we constructed the coop for our chickens and also did a handful of other projects in the yard.  It was a long but very productive day and by the end I was ready to fall over from exhaustion, but it was the good kind of exhaustion.  Here are the pics of the coop project:

This is the coop spread out in our living room.  Brian was checking to make sure we got all the of parts and that they were in good shape.

This is the coop spread out in our living room. Brian was checking to make sure we recieved all the of parts and that they were in good shape.

Here Brian and my cousin Ian are building a foundation for our coop.  They worked on this for HOURS!  The biggest problem they encountered were the huge tree roots in our yard that make it difficult to dig.

Here Brian and my cousin Ian are building a foundation for our coop. They worked on this for HOURS! The biggest problem they encountered were the huge tree roots in our yard that make it difficult to dig.

Since the foundation took way longer that anyone anticipated the girls started work on assembling the coop.

Since the foundation took way longer than anyone anticipated the girls started work on assembling the coop.

My sister Meghan and my cousin Cammie are working hard screwing together parts of the coop.

My sister Meghan and my cousin Cammie are working hard screwing together parts of the coop.

At this point we realized that we could no longer assemble the coop on the grass.  We moved it into the garage so we would have a level surface to work on.

At this point we realized that we could no longer assemble the coop on the grass. We moved it into the garage so we would have a level surface to work on.

Now that we are on level ground we are back to piecing this coop together.

Now that we are on level ground we are back to piecing this coop together. You see my sister holding the instructions. There was a lot of close inspection of the instructions, because THEY SUCKED! I have never see worse instructions, this was NOT COOL!

The run is almost together.

The run is almost together.

Now that the foundation is done the boys join us in frustrating task of assembling this coop.

Now that the foundation is done the boys join us in frustrating task of assembling this coop.

All smiles!  Probably because at some point about half way through the assembly we decided as a group that what would make this easier was if we all took a beer break.  Seriously, this coop should have been easier to assemble.

All smiles! Probably because at some point about half way through the assembly we decided as a group that what would make this easier was if we all took a beer break. Seriously, this coop should have been easier to assemble.

So, our coop is assembled and in place I don’t have a pic yet because once we were done it was getting dark, and of course it has rained everyday since.  These are my thoughts on this coop so far:

Downside:

1. The directions stunk!!!  They were very hard to read and way to basic, I was shocked how little information was given.  There was a lot of guess work as to where and how things fit.

2. The coop came damaged which was really irritating.  The manufacture is willing to replace the broken peices but still it was annoying.

3. Several people that were helping us put the coop together commented seperatly that they thought we over paid for this coop.  I tend to feel they are right.

Upside:

1. We have had serious flooding rains in Chicago for the past week and for the most part the coop is dry.  That was very encouraging.

2. It has a pull out tray for cleaning under the roosting bars, I like that.

3. It is appealing to the eye, which is great for maintaining good relations with my neighbors. 🙂

I am sure I will have more to say about the coop once the girls occupy it, lets hope it is all good stuff!

Other yard projects that happened were;

Cammie and I made three raised beds out of old wood pallets.  You can see two of them clearly in this pick and the other one is just behind the chicken coop.

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This is the “farm” part of my Chicago yard. I have 3- 4’x3.5′ beds, 2- 4’x8′ beds and 1- 4’x4′ bed. I also have my composter in the back as well as the chicken coop.

I’ll get into more detail about the garden in my next post which will be about my garden plans for this year.

We also moved my compost bin into a sunnier spot of the yard.  The compost was mixed really well in the process of moving it which mean that soon I’ll have some great stuff to add to the garden beds.

The final project we did last weekend was to start preparing a spot in our yard for a small patio to be put in. We cleared the area, marked it with twine and started to level it.  I’ll take pics of that project as soon as it gets underway.

PODCAST PLUG- I have been listening to a pod cast called COOP CAST which is put out by Chicken Thistle Farm.  I am really enjoying it and learning a lot and not just about chickens.  Stop by their website to find out how to listen if your into that kind of thing.