After tearing up more vinca (vines) than I thought possible, we built a 4'x4'x2' raised garden bed. I've been working for almost 2 weeks to fill it with compost (LeafGro) and topsoil, along with a layer of terracotta pot shards (Mom's suggestion). Last week, while Taylor was on spring break, we finished filling the bed and started planting our crops. We started with two rows of butterhead lettuce, three rows of spinach (which, in hind sight, was spaced too close together, so I'll have to thin it eventually) and bordered off an area with marigolds. (A friend recommended per her mother that marigolds were good companions for tomatoes, so I took her advice.)
Last weekend, Cameron and Taylor helped me to plant some mint (already established), cilantro, basil and parsley in smaller pots. I didn't want them to overgrow the plants in the bed, so I decided that pots were a better idea.
Yesterday I purchased an established "Better Boy" tomato plant, two cucumber plants, three strawberry plants and two spiral posts. The tomato plant was placed in the area bordered by the marigolds and a spiral post was placed as a support for the tomatoes to climb. The cucumbers were placed in the left corners of the bed (I'll need to go buy more spirals for them as they grow). The strawberry plants were placed in a separate pot (about 18-20" in diameter) next to our neighbor's fence. It's at the kids' height and I thought they'd enjoy "helping" them grow. Finally, the second spiral post was placed halfway between the tomato plant and one of the cucumber plants; I've got some green bean seeds soaking overnight and we'll plant them tomorrow. (The spirals were only $5 and look much nicer than the wire cages that were $15/each!)
Finally, I tilled the ground around the garden bed and mixed in some more topsoil and LeafGro, then Taylor helped me throw out some wildflower seeds. (The seeds came from a package called "Bring Home the Butterflies" and the wide variety of flowers is designed to host butterflies at all stages of life. I thought it would be something for the kids to enjoy.) I finished off with some mulch around the edges of the garden bed to hide the newspaper that we had put down before we started filling the bed with soil.
Today, Cameron helped plant three short rows of carrots in addition to watering the entire garden. He was a terrific helper, and he is really excited about our project.
Whew! As you can see, we've been pretty busy around here. We're really looking forward to watching our garden grow and truly enjoy the "fruits" of our labor! I'll try to keep posting the details of our project so that we have a record of what we did in case we want to try this again next year. I've posted a link to some pictures that I've taken during the process (mostly just the beginning and the end!). I'll also keep taking pictures and will update the album as I can.
Wish us luck!