This summer I decided to embark on a large garden project on my homestead. I wanted my home to resemble a french garden (ish). Its been a lot of work, and I still have a lot of work to do. Many of the elements I am bringing into the garden are re purposed items and all of the plants have been started from seeds using a winter sowing project. I am excited to see what fun ideas I can come up with using garage sale finds and also excited to see how my seedlings harvest. I have heard that plants that are winter sown are hardier and produce more yield. So guess what, were going to find out! Follow along with us as things start to come to life in the gardens and see what new elements we add weekly.
Since this is my first update I will show you where we started and where we are now. The gardens were put in this spring, just a few weeks ago. To get the gardens started we used a lasagna gardening method. This simple garden starting method uses cardboard or newspaper to create the bed space, which is covered by soil and edged in wood. I loved this method because I did not need to use a till. The cardboard kills off any grass growing below the garden and in turn creates less weeding for me. You can read more about lasagna gardening here.
Since we had a late spring this year here in Michigan we just finished planting the baby sprouts into the gardens. All of the sprouts were started in mid winter using a winter sowing technique. This technique is done by planting seeds in re purposed milk containers which work as a mini greenhouse. The containers are then left outside in the cold and will sprout when the sun starts to warm. I was super excited to find that almost all of my seeds sprouted and were thick and hardy in their containers. Replanting them into the garden was easy too.
At the beginning of this week the weather took a downward spiral and hit freezing temperatures. We even saw some snow! I had already planted many of my colder weather plants into the gardens like spinach, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. I was worried we were going to loose them all, so I cut the tops off my old mini greenhouse milk jugs and placed them over top of the seedlings to help keep them warm. It seemed to have worked pretty good. Some of the plants were showing signs of frost damage, but they are starting to pop back to life and I can see green leaves once again sprouting from their centers.
cabbage plant showing signs of frost damage
After the weather warmed up to the 80’s this week (I know 30 one week, 80 the next. . that’s Michigan for ya). I started to find that many of my plants were turning yellow and starting to die off. I wasn’t sure if it was from the cold, the soil or just a lack of water. I started with the easiest fix and tried running a hose and sprinkler back into the gardens. I let it run for 10 minutes, three times a day. That seemed to do the trick. It seemed that with the cardboard under my gardens, the soil was drying out much faster than normal. So until the cardboard has completely disintegrated I will need to make sure the gardens are kept watered.
We’ve also added a few fun elements to the gardens since the beginning. First, I found an old arbor behind my parents shed that they said I could take. The bottom was beat up pretty bad, so I cut it down and made it into a grape trellis. I love the way it looks in the garden. We also added a bench made out of an old bed frame which was painted turquoise and adds such a fun pop of color to the gardens plus it gives me a nice place to rest and enjoy all my hard work.
Around the house we have been adding things here and there. I just finished this project using an old bird cage which I turned into a hanging planter. Super fun, don’t you think?
Here are a few other re purposing garden projects I have done over the last few weeks. You can find a complete list of DIY projects here.
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<3 Dick and Jane