Weekend Garden Projects

I wrote about it in the April issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly and am not sure if I ever talked about it here, but I’m starting a garden this year! At first I was going to have a plot in the community garden, but then Jason and I’s friend offered up his yard instead. You see he wants a garden and has a huge yard with full sun, but has never gardened before. I’ve gardened most my life (with my parent’s, then in the neighbor’s yard, and then at my grandpa’s) except the last three years, but have no yard. It’s a perfect match.


Of course I have to plan it out! So I’ve been looking all around the internet for seed planting charts (a very helpful one here and here). Iowa State actually has quite a few articles in pdf for free or a small fee that cover many topics of gardening, browse around and learn some great gardening skills. And of course projects! There are three really great projects here on GardenPlans.com for a cold frame, bench, and butterfly house. Very nice. The BBC also has some really neat projects for the garden.

Thursday we dug a trench around a 20 X 24 foot space, sunk in some 12″ boards, put up some stakes and attached chicken wire. Then we tilled everything up and yesterday I laid out the beds with twine on stakes and cleaned the grass clumps out of each section. Today I’m going to finish planting all my plants and seeds and build my compost bin – which I will post about tomorrow along with a full plant list. Yesterday I was able to get half of the plants planted, no seeds in yet. For the fall I would really love to make a cold frame, but for now I think some supports for the beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers would be nice projects. Maybe some little fences for each plot inside the garden. I’m really want to weave some out of willow, but I need for find a source for it – maybe I’ll post on freecycle that I’m looking for a willow patch to harvest some from. There has to be someone here in ames that has extra.


I saw this mulched garden path project and although I won’t be making a path quite like that, I think I will use that technique to make some simple weed free paths between the garden sections, I think I will lay down newspaper and put straw over that for this year. I really like straw paths, they are super quick and easy and fairly inexpensive – just $7 for a bail of straw. We are kind of working off a square foot gardening method, but divided into 3 X 4 foot and 4 X 4 foot beds – it is easier for us with the garden size so we can have 2 foot paths between each bed. If you google “square foot garden” a TON of great sites both professional and personal come up. I found this site particularly useful – like the suggestion to get some venishan blinds from the thrift store and some brads to fasten them together to make the grid. Which I’m totally not going to do because I’m lazy – well excited to get started. I am just using estimated 1 foot squares for right now.


I have some questions for you: How do you compost? What do you compost? What do you edge your garden beds with? What’s your favorite flower, herb, vegetable to grow? what your favorite diy garden project?

Anyone who comments with an answer or two will be entered into a drawing for some seeds and a garden apron (this week’s pattern). You get one entry per answer, so the more questions you answer, the better your chance of winning!

My bread just came out of the oven so it’s time to go get the seeds in.

Have a good Sunday afternoon and enjoy the outdoors!

12 thoughts on “Weekend Garden Projects

  1. congrats on your new veggie patch!!!

    hubby does our composting. we have a bin in the kitchen that we dump all our veggie food scraps into. at the end of the week (or when the bin gets full – whichever comes first) he puts it all into a compost bin in the backyard. you can buy a ready made bin from any hardware/diy/garden store. alternatively, a big plastic bin tipped upside down on a patch of grass in a corner will do just as well. every once in a while shove some newspaper in there as well, and then turn it maybe abt once a week or more. leave it on its own and in a little while you’ll have your own compost as all the food scraps biodegrade!

    favourite veggies to grow include: tomatoes (nothing like the taste of homegrown tomatoes – 10 times better than store bought), jeruselum artichoke (shove in ground, forget for three months, voila!) and lettuce. once you go homegrown, there’s no going back.

    good luck!

  2. I use old 2gallon ice cream tubs in my kitchen (we have three) and put everything vegetable related also egg shells.Up the hill behind my house is a compost pile I started two years ago, we have added a few worms and also add yard trimmings. I have made some really nice soil and love the idea that I am not throwing things away that can be returned to the Earth.

  3. I haven’t started my compost bin/pile yet at home. I have a vermi-composting system set up in my classroom that I compost lunch remains in!

    As for gardens, mine is pretty small. I have to say I love columbines though!

  4. My favorite flower to grow is any fragrant rose, favorite herbs are mint (they have really exotic and fun ones out there) and basil, and vegetable… well, fruit, would be the Sugar Snack cherry tomato. Like eating candy! Have fun, your soil looks so rich.

  5. My Mom composted and as I recall she would put bits of veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass cuttings, chopped up leaves, etc in it. She kept a coffee can on the kitchen counter that she collected the veggie scraps in. Once you get it going it is important to add some earthworms to it. Mom did.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Congrats on finding a plot of soil to garden! We have a small yard and “wonderful” Carolina clay, so we are limited to raised bed gardening. However, it works WONDERFULLY and we are able to get quite a bit of fresh produce for a family of four out of a bed only 24inches deep and about 6 feet long. Our bed is edged with bricks but I also try to put in some merigold for bug control. I am not sure that it works, but merigold is one flower I can’t seem to not grow. As for plants we do Roma Tomatoes, sugar pod peas, bush green beans, parsley, cilantro, basil, sage, and peppers (3-6 varieties). We also have chives that I need to thin and rosemary buses in the landscape. Nothing is better than fresh rosemary and the blooms on the chives are lovely. Eventually the plants grow quite lush together and choke out the weeds, so no mulching for weed control is needed. Our city does curbside recyling of natural materials in exchange for low cost mulched materials. This saves me from having to compost much. I would like to get a worm composter, however. I think the boys would get a kick out of that! This year we also added a second raised bed and planted a berry patch- strawberries down low and a small rasberry bush. Lastly, my youngest won a sunflower seed at his school’s festival, so we had to make a new plot for it and some additional seeds. I am betting the birds with love the sunflowers this fall.

  7. My composting has fallen by the wayside lately… but I was composting leaves, some garden stuff, and kitchen scraps (fruit and vegetable trimmings and an occasional egg shell). I was very pasive about it, but even so it’s amazing how quickly the pile shrinks. Unfortunately, my uncovered compost pile sits under pine trees, so it was good for keeping things out of the landfill, but not so good as finished compost.

    We have lots of deer around here and I don’t have a fence, so I don’t have much luck with vegetables. My pride and joy is a gigantic blueberry bush that I planted over 20 years ago – it produces 15 or more pounds of the best blueberries ever each year (the deer leave it alone for some reason, and there’s enough for me and the birds). Herbs are great too – the critters leave them alone and it’s wonderful to be able to have fresh herbs available when you need them. Basil grows like a weed and at the end of the summer you can always use it up in pesto. Flat-leaf parsley, sage, rosemary, and yes – thyme, are all great to have on hand. It’s also fun to experiment with an interesting variety of basil or an herb you’d never find in the grocery store. Have fun!!

  8. We just started our garden as well this last weekend. We weren’t planning on gardening this year, but got bitten by the bug and well… we’ll be drowning in lavender, tomatoes and pickling cucumbers if all goes well (among other things). :)

    I also just re-did a baby bed for Anna that I thought you might find interesting. Its on the blog!

  9. We love to garden! We have 3 raised planting beds that we made in the past few years…one is full of strawberries that are blossoming profusely right now. In another we plant carrots and green beans, and the last one gets the tomatoes and peppers and herbs.

    I’ve been making aprons and have posted them on my website…go check them out as I think you’ll like how they were made!


  10. Its been a while since I have stopped by to read and comment. We have been planting a small square foot garden type garden for a couple of years. This year I plan to try some different things with it and start a compost bin. I had to research and teach a small group of kids about going green and so we talked about composting. I plan to build one this year.
    In the past I have planted tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers in our garden the peppers and tomatoes did real good but the cucumbers and squash were not as good as when I use to plant at our older home and had a big garden and more land.
    This year I plan to plant squash again but make little trellis for them to grow up I also want to plant snow peas along with tomatoes, squash,cucumbers and peppers.
    For our garden we mulch around the outside edge of the wood and then for the paths in my garden I have large flat stones my sister had leftover from doing a stone sidewalk.
    For some reason the lizards seem to like my garden we always have a family of them to live near the garden they startle me at times when I see them run across but lizards eat spiders and I hate spiders so we let them be.

  11. My favorite herb to grow is basil. I love fresh pesto in the summer – nothing better! I don’t have much luck bringing it in when weather turns cool, so I always end up growing a new plant each spring.

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