Monday, January 28, 2008

My Story

I'm a 36 year old commercial real estate lender (affordable housing) in the Seattle area. I'm married with two young boys (4 and almost 2). We bought our current house on a quarter acre in the suburbs of Seattle 10 years ago and I quickly found I hated yard work. Just mowing was an entire weekend project in the summer. Thankfully my aunt has a green thumb and helps both my brother and I with our yards (he lives a mile away). For about ten years my brother has had two 4x8 raised beds and one 4x4 bed. However, he has never heard of SFG. His garden does very well. 

I should mention a key ingredient to my story.  Although I like some vegetables, I don't like them enough to eat them regularly.  Thank Ken and his "Rich-Friendly" restaurants that serve meat and potatoes for reminding me to include this (they are omnivores and I'm essentially a carnivore, so we have to pick our eatting out places carefully, true friends for sure).  At home though, we tend to eat the same basic menu over and over again, despite my wife's attempts to expand our repertoire.  Part of my problem is only I like some veggies and only my wife likes others, so it's not worth getting big heads of broccoli from the store. It would just go bad before we found enough meals for me to have it.  With my SFG I hope to be able to harvest only what we need for dinner that night.  And it will force us to figure out meals to use all of it with.

Anyway, long story short... My brother convinced me to turn a southern facing triangular area of my yard that was the blight of the universe, full of weeds and garbage, into a garden. It was a fenced-in dog run for the prior owners and we don't have a dog. A friend suggested I read SFG and I took much of Mel's ideas to heart.

I cleared the area down to bare dirt and got up as many weeds as I could. Then I laid down landscape fabric and three inches of pea gravel. Then I built four raised beds on top of the gravel (good for weed control and drainage).The largest bed is 11x4. The next is 10x4. The other two are 8x4 and 6x3. Each box is 15 inches high (three 2x6s). My brother convinced me to go higher than he did (one 2x6). They are all diagonal shaped at one end to form a "perfect" line along the fence line to give a 4' path between my front and back yard (also helps since the fence shades the entire path), with each bed having a 2' path in between.


I will get dirt in mid February and start planting in the Seattle area in late March, early April. Here is where the 150+ years of experience in my family is at odds with SFG. They want me to use a mixture of top soil, compost and peat moss in my beds (pre mixed and bought by the yard). I was thinking use this wonderful 5+ source bulk compost, with peat and vermiculite. But my family is very close and it's tough telling the green thumb in the family you're not following their suggestion. Possibly compromise is in order. Maybe I'll fill the bottom 4-6 inches with their "three-way" topsoil mix and the top 9-11 inches of Mel's Mix. Now if only I can find a bulk supplier of peat and vermiculite by the yard. Hehe don't expect that.

Whew, by the time beds have dirt, I hope to feed a family of 4 with the following vegetables (SF devoted to each in parentheses):

Corn (40)
Cucumber (4)
Onion (7)
Radish (5)
Peas (6)
Bush Beans (8)
Pole Beans (8)
Broccoli (8)
Cauliflower (8)
Tomato (10)
Carrots (8)
Lettuce/Spinich (12)

(See my garden plan below)


I just started my broccoli and cauliflower inside in vermiculite. They came up great. Now they're in my garage (average 45 degrees) in direct sunlight (the window overlooking the southern facing garden). After seeing Judy's blog about the Jiffy pop discs, I got some that I'll use for other transplants, and got some Jiffy peat moss starter bins that I'll fill with Miracle Grow Starter soil. I don't have Mel's mix yet but I'll amend the Miracle Grow with vermiculite.


For fruit, I've got a existing pear tree and plum tree, that my mom uses to can pears and make pear jelly. My in-laws gave my youngest a new apple tree that's planted next to the plum. My kids love blueberries so I bought two high-bush blueberries for second best sun spot in my yard. Odd with the blueberry bushes, they're different varieties to cross pollinate, but though they're both deciduous, only one lost its leaves. I thought it was dead, but a scratch test proved it's green under the brown.So, I guess I went from someone who hates yard work to an avid gardener. This too will be my first season but my 4 year old is excited to plant, and loves veggies, so I expect to be gardening for a long, long time.


1 comment:

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