Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

May 15, 2020

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!

Welcome to

It's been a strange year thus far (like I need to tell y'all that). Even among all this negativity swirling around us, there can still be found...good.

One positive thing that's happened this year is that Jonathan, mom, and I all planted a garden.

We've been planning this for years. It's been a case of "someday" for a very long time. But with this whole Covid-19 quarantine thing upon us, we collectively decided that now is the time to cultivate our dream (as it were). Now, it is to be understood that we are NOT experienced gardeners.

Like, at all.


We scoured Pinterest, YouTube, and the net for all our "education". So basically, we went into this with a ton of theoretical knowledge, and ZERO actual experience.

It has been an extremely laborious affair, built with plenty of "sweat equity".

We decided that we needed an elevated garden being that none of us have knees that can actually kneel anymore. Raised beds were initially considered, but discarded once we realized that our backs are also not so bendy anymore. So elevated beds it was.

Jonathan designed them and (on his younger knees) prepared the foundation by digging up grass and leveling the ground...all by hand.

Sweat equity.

We then ordered a ton (literally) of supplies: cinder blocks, decking lumber, hardware cloth, garden cloth, bags of mulch, sand, PVC pipes, organic fertilizer, wooden garden stakes, little white garden fencing, planting bags, seeds, and seedlings. I'm sure I've missed a few things.

Jonathan spent days breaking up a giant pile of dirt we had in our side yard, by hand, with a pick axe. Then he sifted out all the grubs and rocks.

Sweat equity.

After the ground was level, it was time for the cinder block foundation. Jonathan laid all the cinder blocks out in neat little rows, by himself, over a few days.

Then it was time to build the planting boxes.

Together, he and I built the planting boxes. They each measure 4ft by 4ft by 12 inches deep. We used decking lumber so, in essence, we actually built two 4 x 4 ft decks. They are very solid...and very heavy.

We added hardware cloth (which isn't really cloth...it's tiny-holed chicken wire) to the bottom of each box before we affixed the floor boards. Then, we lined the box with 2 overlapping layers of garden cloth. I used a staple gun for this whole process. I developed a love/despise relationship with said staple gun. So many wasted/bent staples. So. Many.

Before permanently seating the finished boxes on their foundations, we decided that the cinder blocks needed added support (as some columns were starting to lean out of alignment). So...back to the hardware store to buy materials to support them. Rebar was too expensive. Ridiculously expensive. So PVC pipe it was. $30 vs $200. Easy choice.

Jonathan cut all the pipe then, together (but mostly him), we pounded those suckers a foot deep into the ground next to each column with a sledge hammer.

Sweat equity.

After that, Jonathan and I lifted those 2-ton boxes into position on the foundation.

(I've worked muscles I didn't even know I had).

Next...it was time for the dirt. Shovel after shovel, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow. All done by Jonathan while I was asleep one morning. Love that man.

Next...it was time to install Jonathan's ingenious watering system. This is comprised of empty V-8 juice bottles with little holes drilled at the bottom. Each bottle is wrapped in garden cloth and sunk into the dirt. The bottles will be connected to a water reservoir via tubing that attaches to a fitting in each bottle cap. We'll fill the reservoir, open the valve, and the water will fill each bottle...effectively watering our entire garden, from the roots. The reservoir (a 5 gallon water bottle that I painted black, then white to block out the UV) will sit up on that black platform behind the boxes. Pretty ingenious, huh?

Next, we amended the soil and laid down a good 3 inches of mulch...EVERYWHERE. 20 bags of mulch.

Finally...planting day arrived.

We gridded out the garden and I printed off a "map" to show what to plant where. We used a wonderful online garden planning site to determine what plants are companionable, how close to plant them, and how big they'll get.

The site is https://www.smartgardener.com/

It really is a great tool for gardeners of any level!

"What did y'all plant", you ask? Well. We planted 3 varieties of peppers (green bell, orange lunchbox snacking, spicy Cajun bells), purple cauliflower, strawberries...and carrots, beets, radishes, and onions coming. We also interspersed marigolds everywhere...they help keep pests away!

In addition to our elevated boxes, we also planted  in 4 other areas around the house.

We planted cucumbers next to the elevated boxes. We reused a trellis that Jonathan built several years ago out of chicken wire and PVC pipe. It's still holding strong! We will also plant potatoes in this area.

On the back porch we planted our favorite variety of tomato--Sun Gold. They're a cherry tomato. They have THE BEST flavor and produce all season long. And boy do they produce. Last time we planted them, we had 2 plants and they yielded over 600 tomatoes combined for the season. This year, we have 3 plants. Is it possible to have tomatoes literally coming out of one's ears?

We'll see.

We also have 4 blackberry bushes that will live in containers on the back porch as well. We still need to re-pot them. They already have blackberries forming!

On the other side of the house, Jonathan planted about 20 okra plants. These are the burgundy variety and will yield burgundy-colored okra. Fun! Behind the okra is mint. We're gonna have okra coming out of our ears as well.

Lastly, all along the entire wall of the house (the east side) we planted zucchini and yellow squash--4 of each. We're gonna have squash coming out of our ears too. We plan on training our squash to grow vertically (thus the tall wooden stakes). According to YouTube, it can be done with relative ease.

We'll see.

And, any surplus produce we have, we'll be sharing it with our neighbors and friends!! Don't you wish you lived near us?

All in all the benefits of putting in this garden were immeasurable. We got tons of exercise and fresh air, but most importantly, we got to spend quality time together doing something so very productive.

So worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous!! Wait... aren't you the lady who mentioned that you didn't have room for a garden?? Well, you all did a bang up job of changing that! Congratulations! Love the watering system, please let me know how it's working. Your raised beds are a perfect height. This will be our 2nd year with some new raised beds, loving them!


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