Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Own Eden

Jason and I have embarked on a new adventure in our lives – gardening. Neither of us has a green thumb, but we are going to change that! After discussing the idea of a garden for awhile and consulting with some friends at our church who have successfully grown their own vegetables, we decided it was something that we wanted to do for ourselves.

We both recognize the importance of being aware of the environment’s limited food supply and would like to take steps to being more Biblically-based in how we live our lives and work to stop taking for granted all of the luxuries we have living in America.

We set out by first researching (surprise, surprise) and the best resource we used was a book by Urban Harvest called “Year Round Vegetable, Fruits, and Flowers for Metro Houston: A Natural Organic Approach Using Ecology (12th Edition)” (long-enough name, right?). The author is Dr. Bob Randall, a PhD who spent a good part of his life becoming gardening in Houston and has great advice and suggestions for beginners. You can get his book from taking one of Urban Harvest’s classes or going to their Farmer’s Market. More information can be found on their website.

This past Fourth of July we had my mom and her husband Jeff down for the long holiday and utilized the free labor to get the garden created. Jeff drives a truck and we needed it to haul lumber and rocks for the garden. (We will need to borrow a truck again closer to fall if any of our Houston friends are willing to be bribed!)

Being the good engineer’s we are, the hubby took the dimensions of our house from the builder and imported them to SolidWorks where he could make a 3D schematic of our backyard and refine the garden’s dimensions prior to implementation.

Then we had to stake out the size, check our measurements, and evaluate how everything looked before proceeding. Then we started digging! And promptly realized I was standing on a giant red ant pile… so we moved to the opposite side for the time being and started digging up all the bushes and grass.

We broke ground and worked hard Day 1.

We had the beautiful magnolia tree left that we were investigating our options – transplant, sell, cut down. In the end it was decided that we couldn’t salvage the tree and since the job was too big for us we hired a lawn service in our neighborhood that also removed all of our shrubbery. Best money spent ever. It was so hot all day Saturday and Sunday while we worked!

We got quite a bit of headway made on the garden! We still need to install a drip system for watering (a must-do for its survival in my hands!). For that we will tap into our sprinkler system and run lines along the back and front of our rock path. We will also lay newspaper down and purchase soil, but we will wait until the fall because of the HOT and drought-like conditions Houston has been experiencing this summer.

We also plan to purchase some additional stones to finish the walkway as well as bricks to create a small “pond” for ambiance, decoration, and to attract frogs and the “good” bugs that the garden needs to thrive.

What will be plant? Vegetables and herbs. We will have wire that we lay against the fence to force green beans to grow up and directly in front of that on the other side of the path we will purchase Texas tomato cages for tomatoes and bell peppers. The rest of the layout hasn’t been decided, but some of the things we are considering planting are garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, mint, cilantro, parsley, squash/zucchini, etc. We are also going to look at possibly planting a couple of fruit trees around the yard as well. I’ll continue to post additional pictures as the garden grows and once we start fall planting!

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