Spring 2008 Garden Plans

So…I didn’t work out this weekend. Instead, DH and I dedicated Saturday and Sunday to Improving the Garden and Beautifying Our Outdoor Areas. Since this involved quite a lot of heavy lifting, digging of rock-embedded soil, laying down around 600 8″ brick pavers, weeding, and other fun activities in the Florida sun, I am counting this toward functional resistance exercise. My calves and quads are DOMSing already from digging, squatting and deadlifting, and the tops of my poor ears are stinging from sunburn because I stupidly chose to wear a baseball cap (which left my ears out to broil) instead of my usual floppy straw gardening hat.

Here’s the inventory of the weekend’s work:
– Planted an 18′ border of salvias
– Planted 7′ row of gladiolus bulbs
– Dug 75′ serpentine trench in side yard to conceal a 75′ soaker hose
– Dug up and transplanted ailing emperor lychee tree to a container with fresh potting soil
– Manually loosened and prepped ~60 sq. feet of soil for sweet potato planting
– Dug up existing sweet potato vines from veggie patch, harvested the tubers, and transplanted the vines to side yard for a new crop
– Dug 6″ deep trenches around the 8’x4′ veggie patch and inserted 12″x12″ pavers on their ends to create a 6″ raised bed. Next week we will dig up the non-tomato plants in the bed, buy a truckload of fresh organic soil to fill in the box, and re-plant the veggies in their new home.
– Cleared around 120 sq. ft. worth of old pavers and rocks from our walled courtyard.
– Removed ratty old weed stop fabric.
– Leveled the soil and re-covered with new weed fabric.
– Poured down sand and re-leveled.
– Re-paved entire courtyard with 8″x4″ Holland brick pavers
– Lugged new bags of rocks into courtyard and poured them into the borders next to the wall.
– Celebrated near completion of 2008’s spring gardening projects with a trip to the China First Buffet.
– Slept REALLY, REALLY well last night.

Below are some rather blurry and dark camera phone pics of the garden so far. It’s definitely a work in progress for us since we pretty much let it go last year. Chris has wanted to replace the old 12″ coral pink pavers in the courtyard off the master bedroom since we moved in, but didn’t get motivated until last weekend when he finally got around to taking measurements and calculating the costs at Lowes. Okay, so I calculated the costs while he browsed through the different paver stone options. We wound up spending around $350 for the sand, rocks, pavers, and delivery, but we figure it would have cost us over $1000 to have someone else do it for us, and now DH gets to brag that he did it himself. The funny thing is that he was delaying the project because he didn’t know exactly how to do everything involved, but all this time we had a huge DIY home repair book on our shelf that his big brother had given him when he bought the house in 2005. I pointed this out Friday night, and sure enough, there was a section on how to install cement pavers for an outdoor patio. It even had pictures.


Newly re-paved courtyard

As for the garden–which is mostly MY baby–I neglected it horribly last year. With the wedding in July, I just found all of my spare time and energy sucked away, and I missed the best growing seasons for my area (winter/early spring and fall). I more or less limited my gardening to dumping many, many bags of mulch down to keep the weeds under control and allowed the sweetpotato slips I had originally planted in late 2006 to take over the square foot garden veggie patch with only a square of chives and a square of pimiento hot peppers growing. The rest of the garden was pared down to more established fruit trees, shrubs, and daylilies that didn’t need any special care. I didn’t even water anything!

So this year I am back at it and planning to grow another crop of sweet potatoes (super easy care in Florida’s long season of hot days), hot peppers, sweet bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, basil, cilantro, green onions, Swiss chard, ginger root, loose-leaf lettuce and fancy mixed greens, mustard, and MAYBE some zucchini and yellow squash. I don’t have a lot of space, so I’d have to hook up a vertical frame for the tomatoes and zucchini. I technically only have room in the raised bed for 32 full-size plants, so there will probably be at least a dozen container plants (primarily herbs and leafy greens that need to be protected from the full blast of the central Florida sun) in addition to the in-ground garden.

Basically, I’d like to grow the pricey specialty veggies that I can’t get from the local supermarket. The fact that my homegrown stuff will be organic is just another perk.

Raised bed made from pavers for this year’s square foot vegetable garden; the pavers are sort of dingy from years of use in the courtyard floor, but I plan to plant a border of marigolds and Bright Lights Swiss chard around the entire box to hide them.

Baby pineapple grown from pineapple top started in 2006

Dusty Miller and Salvia flower border

Transplanted Vardaman sweetpotato vines

Harvested mutant sweetpotatos!

Extra sweetpotato vines

So how about it? Anyone else planning to get at least some of their fresh veggies from their own gardens this year? What do you plan to grow? Have you started yet?

Related Posts:
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DIY Seed Saving Envelopes

2 thoughts on “Spring 2008 Garden Plans

  1. Planting a garden is a great way to enjoy healthy foods, plus cut your budget. I love the pictures and wow, your pineapple plant is great………………….. :em24:

  2. That is so cool that you can grow a pineapple! We are still buried under a couple of feet of snow here, so I’m going to sulk in the corner! :em61:

    We can’t reliably plant outdoors until late May. If I was more of a diehard gardener, I would start seedlings indoors. Last time I tried that, they all died. I think I have a brown thumb – neither green nor black. Sometimes stuff grows, sometimes it doesn’t!

    Looks like you guys did a great job on your landscaping!

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