February 19th, 2009
Meet the Garden: Goals and Specs
We are located just south of Austin, Texas in zone 8b.
The space my wife and I have marked out for the new garden is 40 feet long by 28 feet wide – 1120 square feet! (That’s 104 square meters for metric thinkers). I’ll start this spring with eight 4′ x 12′ foot beds with room for twice that much growing space as I expand.
The garden is located in our side yard, where it receives full sun all day except for the late-afternoon partial shade from a nearby pecan tree.
Since it’s visible from the street, the garden will need to have a fairly high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) – in this case, I’ve pre-negotiated that a rustic, neatly maintained vegetable garden is fine. A weed-infested field of neglect with tools and supplies left out for all to see, however, will ensure complaints from my better half.
My family and I are tomato junkies (my wife once spent over $36.00 for six pounds of heirlooms that were devoured in 48 hours) so about half of this summer’s garden will be dedicated tomato space. The rest of the garden will be home to pumpkins, sunflowers, corn, watermelon, cucumbers, and any salad greens we can get to grow in the summer heat.
My goals for the new garden include:
- Use organic methods.
- Save money on organic produce.
- Learn to start my own seeds.
- Make my own compost within the first few seasons.
- Explore and use low-water gardening techniques (Central Texas is in a severe drought right now with mandatory watering restrictions).
- When possible, use hand tools rather than gas-guzzlers.
- When possible, use local inputs rather than plastic-wrapped inputs from across the country.
The two main gardening books I’m using for reference are The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith and Gardening when it Counts by Steve Solomon. Neither authors are local to my zone, but both produce a large amount of their own food. That seems to be a mostly forgotten skill in these times.