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Bring on the organic veggies!

February 4, 2011

What you are looking at in the photo above… is my former backyard.


Already, this empty little patch of land is being transformed into what I hope will be a lovely, prolific, organic garden of my very own!

I’ve never gardened before (except for a few summers with my mom but that’s WAY back in the distance of my memory.  I remember we accidentally grew cantaloupes one year.)  So you might say I’m coming at this completely green.   Little to no experience… no teacher… no real idea of what to expect at all, except for what I’ve read.  I think it’s going to be really fun and really rewarding if I can get things to grow.  And I’ll admit it, I’ve totally bought into the hype.  I want to foster living ecosystems right in my yard.  I want my garden to be self-sustaining and free of harmful pesticides.  I want to do my part to help this planet we live on, starting in my own back yard.  No, I’m not going to go join PETA.  But I’m taking a step towards a healthier, more frugal, less wasteful lifestyle!  And I’m suuuuper excited about it.


One of the first things I did was read through every single gardening entry in The Pioneer Woman’s Home & Garden archives.  Then… I bought this handy little book at Barnes & Noble after the pretty tomatoes on the cover caught my eye.  It cost me a whopping total of $7.88.


Inexpensive though it may be… it contains a wealth of knowledge that I just can’t wait to devour!  For instance, do YOU know how to propogate tubers?  I’m only halfway sure I even know what tubers are (and that’s because hobbits eat them in Lord of the Rings.)


One part I’m really anxious to read is….

the composting section!


I’ve been saving up compost all year in buckets on my back porch and I’m ready to do some serious soil-amending!  So bring it 🙂


This book seems like its going to be very helpful.  It explains things in detail and shows a lot of pictures.  Yes, I know you might find this rather obsolete since I could log onto the internet and probably find a million tutorials.  But these are all in one place.  And the tomatoes on the cover just look so luscious.  I want luscious tomatoes like these.



So, do you wanna see the progress?


Here’s what I gave my heroes to work with on Day 1.  (And by “my heroes” I mean Michael and Jay Skinner of Skinner Brothers, LLC… they do it all… they do it well… and they do ya right!)

None of these tools are mine.  I don’t even own a shovel… yet.

(That laundry basket is mine, though.  I definitely left it out in my backyard after discovering a heap of broken glass dishes inside it… the result of my expert packing job when we moved into our house.  Did I mention I’m not the greatest housekeeper?)

(Also take note of our Christmas tree lying on the ground.  We weren’t sure what to do with it so I decided to try and compost it once the guys get my compost area constructed.)


And on this end of the yard we have…

some random birdhouse shoved into the corner and a lot of overgrown tree branches from our neighbor’s yard!  (This is going to be the compost area.)


And now… are you ready to see where we stand after Day 2?

Da dada daaaaaaah!

Yes!  I snapped one of Michael in his fluffy red coat before he could escape!


And here’s Jay!


This cool-looking corner bed they’re designing for me is going to have a little space behind it where I plan to grow some pretty albino sunflowers and also re-locate the birdhouse currently plunked in the compost corner.


Exciting stuff isn’t it???


So, I need any advice you expert gardeners out there have to offer.  What grows well or doesn’t grow well in this region of the country?  What’s not worth my time?  What do you do to keep the pests outta here?  Do you water your garden by hand?  (These guys buried a soaker hose in my yard that they’re going to weave through the beds… I think it even has a timer on it!)  How do you keep the weeds at bay?  Do you compost?


I’m just a yearnin’ for some learnin’!  (Can you name that movie?  Betcha the only people that can arerelated to me.)





Ok, so it’s a few days later and I wanted to share an update with you on how my garden is looking!  (Well, actually at this very moment in time it is covered in about four inches of snow.  So technically, this is how it was looking two days ago.)

But either way, I’m SO excited about it!  My compost area is just huge!  I’ll be going crazy for decomposition!  I’m going to be like Grandma Rosemary taking banana peels home from public places.  I’m thinking composting could very easily become a compulsive behavior.  I’ll have to make sure my husband monitors me closely.


Here are the finished beds.  (The birdhouse looks good, doesn’t it?)


And here is the water hose the boys buried in my yard inside a PVC pipe.  We’ll weave a soaker-hose from here through my plants and it’ll have a timer!  Genius!  And way cheaper than a sprinkler system.


And here is my ginormously beautiful compost area.  (Not quite complete, it now has a plywood “floor” on top of this platform.)  The guys bought me a tarp to use to cover it, which they attached with grommet-like nails to one side so it wont blow away.

They also got me a great start on composting some great soil because they filled this thing with all the leaves and yard waste you see currently surrounding it.  Grass-clippings, tree clippings, and leaves make great compost.  It’s best to have a healthy combination of “brown” compost (your leaves, grass, twigs, etc.) and “green” compost (your eggshells, coffee grounds, and zucchini peels, etc.)

A little mini-lesson there for ya!  I’ve been reading like crazy.


Funny story about my Organic Gardening book.  I brought it to a Superbowl party to entertain myself this past weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Superbowl parties.  But I go for the friends, the food, and the commercials.  So I’m just a happier person if I bring a magazine or something along for the football part.

But this year I brought Organic Gardening and was deeply engrossed in the chapter about Soil when a guy looked over my shoulder and laughed,

“Some people sarcastically say, ‘I’d rather read a book about dirt than watch a football game.’ But you’re actually reading a book about dirt!!”

And so I was.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nathan permalink
    February 6, 2011 3:04 am

    hey carissa
    glad to see you are going all in on the gardening.
    i love it. and i think you will, too. its a wonderful hobby.
    the best resource i use all of time is “the vegetable gardener’s bible” by edward c. smith. it was recommended to me by a life-long gardener here in muskogee. you might find that some of the older folks in your church will have great advice for you as you get your garden off the ground. here in a little while ill take some pictures of my garden for you and i will also try to make some photocopies of some quick reference sheets that i find really handy.
    im sure we will have many gardening conversations in the future.

  2. February 10, 2011 6:11 pm

    Your Superbowl story is hilarious! The backyard looks great; I can’t wait to see it all up and running. Look at you go! 🙂

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