This is our third year having this garden where we now live. The first two years we tilled, then planted and mulched part of it with straw and the rest we tried to keep weeded. Also, our chickens free range so we learned early on that chickens and gardens are two things that don’t mix well at all. The first year when the mulch kept getting scattered and all the green tomatoes had holes pecked in them, we decided that we needed a fence around it. Not wanting to put too much time or money into it, we got orange plastic snow fencing and put it up with fence posts. It was a quick, easy, cheap fix that did the trick. The second year, we did the same but the fence started having wear and tear and the chickens kept finding holes and also learned how to squeeze under the fence where ever it was loose. Also we had the problem of weeds growing up through the fence, which made it hard to keep them under control because hoes and weed eaters just tore it up.
Our first garden in the current spot, summer of 2012.
This year I decided to change up everything about the garden, from building a permanent fence to making it no till. It’s been a lot of work but hopefully the effort will be worth it in future years. First I wanted to fence the entire thing with some sort of chicken proof fencing. Michael and I first thought about getting cattle panels and putting them up with t-posts. It seemed like a quick, simple way to get it fenced in. After figuring the number of panels we needed, it ended up being more than I actually wanted to spend. I just couldn’t see putting that much money into it because our whole goal of having a garden is to have fresh vegetables at the lowest cost possible. So I googled “cheap garden fencing” and came up with the idea to use pallets. I searched around town and found free ones, here and there. It actually took a good month or more of weekly trips to town to find enough to completely fence in the garden. I made sure to look for ones that are heat treated, which will have “HT” stamped on them. If they don’t, they could be treated with chemicals that you wouldn’t want around the garden.
Pictured above is the start of putting the fence up. We put one t-post in the ground and slid a pallet over it. Next we attached 4 more pallets with screws, then put another t-post in and slid the 5th pallet over it, then attached it to the other 4 with screws. Once each section was complete, we cut strips of black plastic and put it under the pallets to prevent weeds from growing in the fence. We just kept up that pattern all the way around the garden. Since then, we’ve had to add a t-post in the middle of each 5 pallet section because we’ve had some horrendous wind this year and needed it to be sturdier.
Next, we found two shorter pallets and made them the gates and added hinges and a latch. As you can see, we had to add chicken wire to the top to keep the chickens from jumping over.
An added benefit to using pallets for fencing is they make great storage for garden tools.
Once the fence was complete, I started planting and mulching. At first I didn’t really have plans to make permanent beds or walkways. But after having a very frustrating time with mulch (which I will tell you all about in another post), I decided to start looking into ways to build beds and permanent walkways without too much added expense. At first, I came up with the idea of laying pallets down for the walk ways but soon found that to be very time consuming, if not impossible. On most pallets, the boards aren’t placed very close together so that meant that we’d have to tear boards off some pallets and use them to patch others. No two pallets had the same spacing between the boards, so it made it hard to do that. We did find a few pallets that did have boards placed closely, but there were only a few and not near enough for all the walkways I had planned. My son came up with an idea to pull the boards off the pallets and laying them on the ground. I told him it would be a lot of work but he assured me that he was up for the task. So began another round of gathering pallets.
Dylan started out by pulling the pallets apart so I could use the wider boards to cover the wide paths, then for the narrow paths, he cut the boards down. It turned out to be very time consuming because most of the pallets didn’t come apart easily at all. I came up with the idea of taking a circular saw and cutting the boards off close to where they are nailed to the frame of the pallet. That meant having shorter boards, but he could get three times the amount of pallets cut up in the time it took him to tear them apart.
As you can see, for the wider paths I ended up putting shorter boards side by side. I think it worked just as well and still looks ok.
This is a view from the back side of the garden. Closest to the bottom is Miley’s sunflowers. Then there is a section of weeds…ugh! Brooke and I have pulled them all out since this picture was taken. I have watermelon planted, sweet potatoes and several rows of fall green beans will go in this area.
The onions were so weedy that you couldn’t even tell we had onions in there! After all the nice rain we had, we got them all weeded and mulched them with shredded paper.
The green peppers are in a little raised bed I’m experimenting with. Miley put her big plastic tarantula in there to scare away the chickens but it ends up scaring me more often, causes lots of giggles.
Cabbage, lettuce, and cantaloupe
Pictured above are tomatoes, we have 30 planted this year. Miley set out a plastic snake in hopes of scaring the chickens away, but it scares Grandma more often, which causes more giggles.
Beans, broccoli, and peas- I planted a small crop of green beans for now, but plan on a larger fall crop. I didn’t want to risk having a big crop ready for harvest at fair time. Also we have broccoli that we transplanted from my mom’s salad barrel. I got the peas planted late, so I’m not sure how they will do, but plan on replanting a fall crop of them also.
At the end of the row on the right is zucchini and yellow squash. In the row to the left I have okra planted and mulched around the edges with shredded paper.
That’s what my garden looks like so far, I still have lots of ideas on more improvements but will have to do them as time and money allows. I plan on posting more pictures and updates on how it produces as it grows. Depending on how well it does, I may have a few vegetables available for sale. If you live locally and are interested, let me know and I will keep you updated on what I have.
Be sure to check back because I plan to post about mulching, companion planting, and fertilizing. What do you have planted in your garden? How do you keep rabbits, chickens and other pests out of your garden?