Creative Ideas, DIY, Garden/ Food, Uncategorized

DIY- Make and Grow Your Own Vertical Garden

DIY grow vertical gardenSo, we have a beautiful little piece of property with mature trees and a good bit of shade. This makes for a lousy potential space for a garden without sacrificing several trees. However, there is a little square plot of land we have right next to our front porch that gets uninterrupted sunlight all day long. This got me thinking…how can I use this little piece of land to grown a garden. And then I had the idea of “growing up” instead of spreading it out. A vertical garden can be a great way to get a lot of garden veggies with a little bit of space. So whether you’re in the same boat we are (not much sunny space) or you live in a high rise with very little green space at all, this could be the answer to growing your own salad!

Get your stuff together

It was much harder than I thought it would be to find pallets! With all the Pinterest ideas floating around out there, you’d think it would be easy but there’s such a huge market for bulk buy-back that larger companies will not give these things away, nor would they sell them. Fortunately, we found some at our local wholesale garden center (of all places!) for $2 each. They even gave us rope to tie them to the roof of our Jeep! (Yeah, we didn’t bring rope…)

So, supplies:

  • 2 pallets
  • Thick landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun and long, heavy duty staples 
  • Potting soil
  • Plants (or seeds…your call on how long you want to wait
  • Plastic painters tarp (the clear plastic cheap kind works fine)
  • 4 2×4 boards
  • 4 hinges with screws

Put your stuff together

Lay the pallets face down (I consider the face to be the vertical boards and the back to be the basic cross boards that attach it all together). Take the landscaping fabric and cover the back entirely. Go nuts stapling the fabric to the pallet. Seriously…you can’t have too many staples here. 

Next, attach the 2×4 boards to the back of the pallets as seen below, using the hinges. You want the hinge to attach to the underside of the board and to the pallet so that the board will act as legs. 

Stand up your garden

Take your now-empty pallets and position them in their new space. Be sure the space is level. Once your satisfied with the position, adjust the legs to give the pallets a bit of a lean. Not too much and not too little. You don’t want all the dirt to slip out the rungs of the pallet but at the same time, you don’t want all the weight of the dirt pushing directly back on the landscaping fabric.

Fill her up!

Slowly fill up the rungs of the pallets with the potting soil. This process is a bit tedious as you’ll find more success hand-filling it rather than pouring the soil from the top (you’ll lose less dirt in the process). You’ll want to gently but firmly pack the dirt so that it doesn’t move freely and can better support the plants. 

Next, start adding your plants. It’s ok to plant them at an angle or completely sideways…the Sun will pull them upward very quickly! 

Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of the plastic covering we used to keep the baby garden safe during a heavy downpour but what we basically did is use thumbtacks to attach the plastic cover to the tops of the pallets. We kept the coverings behind the garden unless we needed them. Then it was easy to just pull the covers over the garden and make a tight, slanted cover that gently rolled the rain down the covers and safely onto the ground.

Pretty it up!

Once you get everything planted, gently water your garden. Use mist if you can and gently pack the dirt a little more to reiterate the strength of the plantings. Your plants may look a little wilty and sad, but they will perk up in no time at all! We also added wood chips so that we weren’t standing in a muddy puddle when we tended the garden during the season.

We used marigolds between the veggie plants to help keep our friendly, rude deer from stealing our salad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon enough our garden took off and we had the beginnings of a wonderful salad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our garden about a month later!

Some harvest!

  

Kind of an accident, but having the squash at the top, we could direct the vines downward so they were off the ground but free to creep around. The veggies had less insect damage this way!

 

Children, Garden/ Food

Garden fairies

FullSizeRender-5Our kids love to play in the yard! They even help out nature on occasion, placing flower stickers on up and coming gladiolus! In fact, they love playing in the yard so much so that when Grandma was watching them this past weekend and she asked if they wanted a milkshake, they declined the offer three times in favor of playing outside in the yard. Who are these children?!

They love to catch little flying yard bugs, pick up roly polys, get caterpillars to climb onto a stick, or chase butterflies and make no mistake- each captured critter gets his own name and back story that led him to his imminent fate. Often times, there’s a whole family tree with the capture of multiple bugs of the same species. It sure does spark imagination!

We have a few garden beds with flowers that have started to bloom in the spring sunshine and there is the guarantee that these flowers will be picked by at least one of the kids, if not all of them. They like to make flower beds for fairies or special floral arrangements for Mommy.

They also like to “replant” picked flowers in their own gardens (a grassless place in the yard in which they’ve added the sandy mixture that lies in the edges of the street). By the time we head inside, those flowers are looking wilty and sad. Nothing a giant glass of water and all the delicacy a six year old has in water-pouring ability can’t fix!

Our kids also help out with dandelions by picking every one they can see and blowing the seeds all over the yard, thereby ensuring future generations of little yellow flowers, followed by fluffy dandelions. Thank you, dear children.

I used to fight the kids’ “helping hands” in the garden…insisting that they leave the flowers alone and stay out of the garden beds. Now, outside of them stepping on young plants, I don’t mind. The flowers won’t be there forever anyway and if those flowers bring them fun and joy then those flowers are theirs to enjoy.

Little garden fairies playing in the garden.

 

Adventure Club, Children

Tending the garden

Girl child and I have been working on a gardening badge for our Adventure Club. Rather than let her loose on an existing garden (my OCD cannot take it, sorry), we decided that she should plant her own little garden and tend to it all by herself.

IMG_9011Now these Adventure Club meetings are good for both her and me as we get quality time- just Momma and girl child. We decided that we needed to discuss plants in general and a good way to do that is while we waited for a freshly baked pizza at our local pizza joint.

Girl child has been studying about plants for school so she was impressively capable of telling me about the many parts of a plant. We talked about how a plant gets its food since it can’t just walk to the grocery store. She even knows the humongous name for this process. Quick pop quiz…do you know?? The answer’s at the bottom ūüôā

She named things like leaves, petals, stamen, sepals, roots, anther and pollen. (This girl knows her plant parts!). We talked about what the roots do, how pollen is delivered, and how the leaves help with food production. Then, our food arrived and we just ate while we watched cowboys lasso cattle at a rodeo on a TV at the restaurant. There really is no better entertainment whilst eating pizza, am I right?

IMG_9012After dinner, we headed to the plant nursery to pick out a pot and some flowers. Girl child found a nice, big, purple pot! Next, we thought about how much light each plant needed, how much water and how big each plant would get. Girl child considered each plant carefully and, ever-mindful of her love of all things pink and purple, picked out three beauties- a snap dragon, a petunia and an african daisy. We set off for home to get them planted.

 

IMG_9017Girl child dawned her pink gloves and got started with her garden planting. Again, my OCD kicked in and I wanted to help her, but I sat on my hands and let her do the whole thing by herself. She was careful to put soil in the bottom and then she placed each plant exactly where she wanted them. Close, but not too close, to each other. Then she filled in the “between parts” with additional soil. Finally, she gave them a good drink of water and picked out where her garden would live…our front porch!

 

img_9095And when she was done, she was pleased as punch that she has her very own beautiful garden that she is now responsible for.

 

Garden/ Food

It’s a Baby Garden!!

The Garden

We have started a garden! As the kids say, “It’s a baby garden!”

About a month ago, we bought a seed starter kit and let the kids pick out vegetables they’d like to plant so we could eat them once they grew. We ended up with pole beans, sweet peas, carrots, tomatoes and sweet bell peppers. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen seeds for carrots, tomatoes or peppers but they are tiny! Couple that with the fine motor skills of our 4 year-old and 2 year-old and it made for an interesting seed-planting event. But the kids were so happy to garden! And now this plant nursery is sitting on our kitchen table in front of the bay window. The kids were¬†elated when the first green nub popped up over the soil and now their plants are so tall they are beginning to lean on each other without stake support.

So, now we must prepare the yard for our baby plants. Spring is finally here for good it seems, so the danger of frost has passed. We have 36 plants and our garden bed is about 8×10- big enough to have a nice crop but not so big that the garden can “get away” from us! We wanted this garden to serve two purposes. Obviously, we wanted food from it but more importantly, we want this garden to be the kids’ garden. We want them to have pride in what they grow, we want them to respect the land, we want them to have sustained interest in eating and enjoying vegetables and we want them to see the beautiful growth cycle that God created.

The nice thing about eager little ones is that they want to help…really want to help. The kids want to dig in the dirt so bad it’s killing them. And they had a field day when they saw the tools Mommy brought out to prepare the garden space. A rake?!? a…shovel?!?! and some rolly, pointy thing that pokes holes in the dirt. They were going nuts wanting to help…so they did. And it turns out, they are good helpers. We scalped the grass off the space, leaving beautiful, dark, worm-filled dirt that’s just begging for vegetable plants. All the grass (and weeds) were piled to the edges of the garden and our two little helpers, gloves on their hands, began picking up the¬†piles of¬†debris and tossing it into the wheel-barrow. They even helped pick the straggling grass and weeds so we are now left with the footprint of our garden. Soon, we will add dirt to replace the bit that we removed with the grass and then it will be time to give our baby garden it’s new home.

With any luck, the vegetables from our little garden will be on our plates each dinner throughout the summer!