Starting a garden has been something I’ve been wanting to do do for years and now we have the space to truly enjoy one. I’ve been meaning to do this post for awhile, but things like kids, school, feeding people, writing and sleeping have gotten in the way. Last month I pleaded
begged nagged asked my husband to build my raised beds so that we could get ready to plant our garden in them, and he finally did! We decided on Concrete Block Raised beds after considering the different types of raised beds available to us for several reasons. Wooden beds were out this time because my husband doesn’t like to build things and I don’t know how to use a saw (yet!) and we wanted to make sure that our current garden location would be the most favorable one before investing time, energy, and money into building something more permanent.
Before placing the concrete blocks we laid out a plastic tarp on the ground under where the garden will go to keep critters from tunneling in and weeds from growing up through the underside of the crops. We laid out the concrete blocks in the formation we decided would be best for what we will be planting (more on that later) and included a couple of blocks in the middle of the garden to plant herbs in the concrete block holes and divide the garden in half. Using a mixture of Miracle Gro top soil and a bit of our native soil, we filled the garden and will be adding in manure shortly to increase the nutrients in the mixture.
The beautiful Alabama climate makes for a long growing season due to abundant sunshine and warm temperatures, but the critters are currently running a muck all over our land. I’ve been researching ways to deter squirrels and getting advice from neighbors who garden on how to handle them. The biggest suggestion I keep getting is to bait them by luring them to a pile of cracked corn for a couple of weeks, replenishing it daily, then going out at daybreak one morning and eliminating as many as possible with a shotgun. I’ve been reading about other methods like fox urine pellets and other sprays to deter them, along with cut up Irish Spring soap! Various sentinel-type gadgets look interesting, too. I’ll try anything at this point.
I’ve also received advice on how to cook the squirrels that must be killed so that a garden can survive on our land. Hopefully this will also allow us to enjoy the pears on our pear tree as well, because last year the squirrels ate every single one! Although I’ve never eaten squirrel and the idea sort of grosses me out, I believe in using what we shoot, so I may have to give it a try as long as someone else skins them for me. Keeping rabbits out will be easier with the concrete blocks which will prevent them from digging in, but we need to install a chicken wire fence around it with very small holes to keep them from climbing or jumping into the garden.
One of the cool things about living in the country and having your children enrolled in a rural school is the agricultural influence. Bonnie Plants, a major nursery and plant distributor, spoke to our 3rd Graders last month about agriculture and gave each of them a Mega Cabbage plant to take home as a part of Bonnie’s 3rd Grade Cabbage Program. They are supposed to plant and tend to their plants, and take a picture of themselves with their hopefully ginormous plants to submit to the Bonnie Plant picture contest.
The prize is a $1000 scholarship, and my oldest child is determined to win by growing the world’s biggest cabbage. It’s a great way to get kids involved in agriculture and can be incorporated into science lessons as well! To get your school involved in this fun and FREE program go to their website to learn more.
I believe teaching our children (and reminding ourselves) about all of the goodness God’s creation can provide is so important, as well as giving them awesomely satisfying survival skills! Working on our garden will be so much fun this summer and so rewarding. First planting starts in about a week!