Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Staking My Claim in the Backyard

What you see here is a random squash plant that popped up from our compost heap. We aren't sure what it is yet since the fruit are still small, but it's narrowed down to butternut or spaghetti squash since those are the two types of squash that had scraps contributed to the compost heap. My bet is on spaghetti. Learning my lesson from this, and the pumpkin jungle that has spread over our raised garden beds, I've decided that next year I am going to try vertical gardening. Coming from a ranch with plenty of space for vines to spread out, it didn't even occur to me that space would be an issue in the backyard.

Some good news is that Lee and I have compromised and agreed that I can have a larger chunk of the backyard for gardening. At first he wanted the majority of the backyard to be lawn for the kids to play soccer. When I reasoned that the kids don't even show any interest in soccer, he started to come around. Besides, we have a rather decent sized front yard for lawn play. I haven't measured it yet, but my garden space is now roughly 50'x50', maybe a bit more. I think I should be able to produce a decent crop as long as I get the beds together before next Spring. Ugh, garden beds...

For quite a while I've been curious about Earthboxes, but they are on the pricier side, at least according to my budget. It also seemed like one of those items that you get so excited about, order impulsively and then when it arrives you are slightly disappointed because it's so simple that you could have just made it yourself. Well, I wanted to investigate the possibilities of making one before saving up the cash for a pre-fab version, so I kept my fingers crossed and did a search. I found numerous sites with tutorials on how to make your own growbox. The DIY version growbox according to one site took about $6 to make, a huge savings. There were complaints however, that the DIY version was made from new materials and was less durable, and that the original Earthbox was made from recycled materials and more sturdy. If durability and recycling is an issue, then you might want to try recycling buckets instead. There are numerous sources for finding used buckets to recycle, do some investigating and see what local business might be throwing them out or keep your eye on Craigslist & Freecycle.

I think I may try constructing a growbox this weekend just to test it out and get an idea if they will work for next Spring.  There are still a couple months before we have a frost, so I can probably plant a six pack of flowers (or clearance vegetable plants) from the nursery. If it does well, I will have the project of building more grow boxes/buckets to keep me busy over the cold months.

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