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The Ugly Garden Experiment

We are not gardeners. Sure, I’ve dabbled. Mostly with berries, containers, and mixed results. I think one year we did pretty well with salad fixings.

Gardening with the Pack o’ Mutts, presents a certain level of difficulty. Not only are they interested in whatever it is you are doing in the dirt, they also have certain yard space requirements. Up until now we’d always chosen dog exercise space, over food growing.

But, the Mutts are older now. They run less and nap more. Plus, we do have this rather sunny, unfortunately ugly, portion of the yard. It appears to be reclaimed gravel driveway. The soil is rocky and the grass is sparse. Turning it into garden, detracts nothing from our yard.

But would we enjoy it? Would we have time for it? Would it be worth that time? Would we eat what we grew?

So commenced the great garden experiment of 2011.

Rules are as follows –

  • This needs to be temporary-ish. If this was an abject failure, for whatever reason, it needed to be relatively easy to erase the evidence and pretend it never happened
  • Because it was an experiment, and not something we knew we’d stick with, it should involve very little up front money investment.

Again, because of Mutt complications, there are certain things we required, like a fence. It didn’t have to be much of a fence, some sort of visual (and kind of physical) deterrent. We’ve built a lot of fence in our adult life. Lumber ain’t cheap.

Due to the poor soil quality in that area, and also out of convenience, we opted for raised beds. More lumber + soil = more money.

Ready? Brainstorm! I’m not going to say this was a quick process. It was painstakingly slow actually. We did have a couple lucky breaks.

In search of raw materials, we went down to our local RE-Store  with a box of crap from the garage. Most of this was stuff left there by previous owners. We did not have high hopes. Amazing but true, we got $22 worth of credit for our box o’ junk. In fact, they declared it a ‘box of awesome!’. Really? I guess that was related to some electrical pieces in there, who knows.

With store credit to fuel us, we were able to get enough scrap-ish lumber for the 2 garden boxes we were building. Yay Free! Unfortunately, they had no fencing options.

But. our neighbor did! A few weeks into the brainstorming (I told ya, painstaking) I realized there was a bunch of old picket fencing sitting next to our neighbor’s house. In fact, now that I thought about it, its been there for a really long time. I sent The Husband over to offer to take it off his hands for a small fee. Good neighbor that he is (and avid gardener), he gave it to us!

Viola! Fence and beds procured. Maybe not the prettiest options available, but well within the above guidelines.

Certain things, did have to be purchased; Fence posts, lumber to make pickets to supplement what we had, dirt, and, of course, the plants.

Last spring, when this was all going in, we were a little strapped for time. All efforts to procure and sprout from seed, were thwarted by that limitation. But, I had this garden frame work sitting there. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste! I broke down and spent $15 at the farmers market, plus another $5 at the grocery store on starts. I also invested in some berry bushes; 3 raspberry, 3 blueberry, knowing they wouldn’t produce much this year, but if the experiment failed, I could keep these going. Those I purchased with coupons to a local nursery.

So Ugly Garden was born. She wont win any prizes, but she does make food.

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