Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gardening on a budget

My SO and I have taken on the (little did we know) epic task of converting a former RV pad covered in sod into a productive garden. We are also aiming to do so on a budget. This has meant tilling the soil the old fashioned way.. pulling out stones one at a time. We discovered, much to our dismay, a huge amount of pea gravel underneath the sod. Here is the garden in process, SIX WEEKS after we (and by 'we' I mean mostly E, with me pitching in for a few hours at a time..) began. We have removed over 20 wheelbarrows full of gravel, no joke. Filled every pothole in the alley, with some to spare.

We could have done raised beds and avoided all this, however that's where the budget factor comes in. That much wood and trucked in loam is expensive. It probably would have cost us $600.00 or more. We have brought in some loam ourselves, which reduced costs significantly. Locally, a delivered square yard of loam is $125, but if you go pick it up yourself at Burnco it's $20.

We did build two planter boxes. In that case we spent the big bucks on cedar, because it is the longest lasting untreated wood (treated wood is out of course, no one wants arsenic salad..). I did want to treat it with something, but found that the natural deck oil available in town is $50 a can. So instead I followed a suggestion I saw at Mother Earth News, and bought some linseed oil and turpentine. Linseed is flax oil, and turpentine is derived from pine trees. A 50/50 mix is a great wood treatment and costs $35 a can.

After a ton of work, we have one third of the garden space ready for planting. We amended the soil with two garbage cans of organic matter and compost, and some composted manure. Hopefully we will only need manure for the first two years as we build up the soil. We will also need to add some phosphate rock and blood meal (that just sounds gross, doesn't it?) as we discovered through testing that the soil is depleted in phosphorous and nitrogen.

Finally, it's time to plant! Next on the to do list, constructing some mini greenhouses to use as the plants get going.


nicole said...

look'n good. we put in a raised bed made from untreated redwood and it cost so much money especially after adding the "earth". happy gardening!