I was going to wait to post this until everything was planted and mulched, but I’ll be away from the computer for several days, and… I can’t wait!
A few years ago a well meaning friend of the radio station where I work decided we needed a vegetable garden to complement the flowers and fruit tree garden we’d established. So he brought over a bunch of tomato plants and just plunked them down on a grassy slope behind the building.
I knew the grounds crew with either mow them down, or they’d get washed down the hill by the rain, so I hastily built some little terraces, from some of the salvaged bricks we’ve got stockpiled.
It was an okay system, and lasted us a few summers, but the winter rains finally took their toll.
Altho’ the grape vines, blackberries and golden raspberries were doing very well, the run down terraces made the stretch look abandoned. So the grounds crew began chopping away at our plants. When I came in and realized they’d reduced a 3 foot tall raspberry loaded with flowers to a 6 inch stub, I figured it was time to revitalize our garden. (Not to mention it was high time to get those ‘maters out there!) So, 2 weekends later….
Whoever inherits this building after us is going to have a bit of trouble ripping this out! I used cinder blocks (heavy and cheap) to form new terraces, and the salvaged brick to edge the “beds”, and make it easier to mow around. (We’re on a high school campus, and the grounds crew has enough other things to worry about!)
While I was at it, I mixed in a lot of compost, peat, and coffee grounds, to lighten up and enrich the clay-and-rock fill dirt the slope is made of. It’s a little hard to see the plants in the glare of the mid-day light, but we’ve already got the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans and zucchini in. Still room for some more peppers, some chard, chives, oregano and malabar spinach (most of which are waiting at home, to be brought in and planted). And I have the promise of free mulch being dropped off this weekend!
Since watering has been kind of a pain the last few years (filling a bucket at the kitchen sink, then hauling it out back and repeating ad naseum) we decided to take advantage of a poorly planned drainspout that simply cascades water out of a pipe five feet up on the wall within the generator cage. I bought a 50 gallon plastic storage tote at the box store, (cheaper and larger than the plastic trash can I originally planned on) along with a brass hose fitting and 15 feet of ½” vinyl tubing.
We drilled a hole at the bottom of the tote, and epoxied the brass fitting in, then attached the hose.
We cut a hole in the lid of the tote, and dropped in two mosquito dunks. (I also wired an old cooling rack at a slant to one side. I once found a drowned squirrel in a water filled garbage can, and I always worry about little animals.) Given the amount of roof this pipe drains, a light rain could easily fill five of these size containers, but we’re starting small. I used the system to water everything this morning, and I am insanely pleased!
All in all, we’ve got about 60 square feet of garden, and we spent about $50. It would have been half that, but I didn’t want to scrounge around and try to salvage cinder blocks. Best of all, we’ve added to our garden space, enriching our work area, and we’re all looking forward to supplementing our salads with fresh veggies from out back!