When I was a kid growing up, for several years I lived on a family farm. Every year we planted a large garden and it produced far more than we could ever eat and it did it easily year after year after year. The bulk of that garden was built on hay bales that were jammed together in long rows. Each row was about four feet wide and maybe 30 – 40 feet or so long.
On top of the hay was several inches of composting material. Our farm was a livestock farm primarily and at that time we raised chickens, cattle, and hogs. The two chicken houses each held about 18,000 chickens at a time and in-between seasons when the houses were cleaned out it was piled up in hills outside which were allowed to sit for several years in the weather. That became the base we used on top of the hay bales with a layer of fine topsoil on top of that – if memory serves me well enough to recall it anyway.
From those “hay gardens,” we grew a bounty of food.
There were carrots, potatoes, several kinds of loose-leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, beans, cantaloupes, and watermelons and many other things. The cantaloupes and watermelons were planted near the ends and allowed to grow out onto the ground.
There were a few additional rows nearby planted directly in the ground because they needed a firmer attachment point to grow. That included corn and sunflowers and a few other things that would have just fallen over in the soft hay garden.
I left that farm decades ago – and haven’t personally made any serious effort to plant a garden again… until now.
First Serious Garden Attempt in Decades
Last summer I did throw a few seeds in the ground along with, and adjacent to some strawberry plants I had put in a year or so earlier. Some of the seeds did come up – others never even broke ground that I could tell. That was very disappointing.
There were some tomatoes that did eventually make it almost to ripening – but unfortunately, a frost took them out just before they would have been ready to pick in another week or so. But even though that didn’t work out – in all fairness I put little time or effort into it and planted the tomatoes far too late in the season.
Now I am back at it again – and this time I am on a mission to get at least one decent harvest this year!
So I am serious about it and putting in the work needed to try to get the garden started. Modestly, for sure – but hey it is a start!
What I have so far is one bed in the ground that is 4 x8 feet. I simply dug up all the grass from the area by hand with a shovel. Then I went back and broke the soil loose into about 4 rows or so in that bed. After that, I planted my seeds directly in the ground in accordance with the instructions on each package.
Most packets said they should appear in 7 to 14 days.
So imagine my surprise, and happiness to find that many of the little plants are breaking ground today only 6 days later! It looks like most of what I planted is indeed growing – for now anyway. My soil is mostly clay but was once part of a farm field where crops were grown for years until my wife and I bought this property and reclaimed its land. Over the years the neighbor had encroached more and more until they had taken – and were planting almost an acre of land – which they didn’t own!
I had it surveyed and then marked, and then put up fence posts to make sure it didn’t happen again – accidentally or on purpose. Anyway – I digress. Back to the garden. So the next thing I am going to do is to dig out two more beds of the same size. But this time I think I will get a few bags of topsoil and mix that in on top as I break the soil loose.
Whether that matters or not I have no idea, and I have not done a soil test nor do I intend to do one – not yet anyway. My long-range plans are to build multiple raised beds in wooden boxes of that same 4 x 8-foot size adjacent to each other and in rows – so the ground soil type will not matter much in the long run – except for the 4 to maybe 8 beds I will keep in the ground for corn and other needs.
So we shall see…
Anyway – thanks for reading, and if you want to see it be sure to subscribe to our Homestead Survivalist Solutions Youtube channel today! I haven’t filmed it yet but I will be posting a short video there this weekend sometime (don’t get too excited yet – because it isn’t much yet!) and if you watch my videos on our channel you will get to see the whole journey as we work to grow a garden and continue to build our own homestead.