Our Suburban Garden: 3 consistent struggles

June 1, 2017

We live in a subdivision nestled in a suburb of a small city. I envisioned the first home we bought would have 1-2 acres of land. We have 1/3 of an acre. Much different than my dream, but it’s a nice little 1/3. It doesn’t have room for things that I wanted like goats, chickens, and a large garden. Having a garden is important to me so we make it work. This season marks the third garden we have put out in our yard. There are three things that cause us the most trouble.

This is last years raised bed. I planted too close together. It became a problem later in the season.
  1. Sun. Actually a lack of sun. We loved the mature trees in our neighborhood at first glance. It does make gardening a game of “chase the sunlight.” Fortunately (well sort of) we had to remove 2 trees the first year we lived here. This helped brighten up the backyard a fair bit. There are still definite spots where nothing will grow and figuring out where the shadows are cast from the surrounding trees took some time to figure out.
  2. Space. If I want the kids to have a yard to play in (and I do), I simply can’t use up every square inch. As much as I would love to have 100 lima bean plants it’s not possible. So I prioritize what it is we need and want to grow. Also this is why planting Spaghetti Squash (see https://www.thisgracefullgarden.com/attack-of-the-spaghetti-squash/) can be a REAL problem and threaten to destroy other plants. This comes with the temptation to over plant or plant too close together. I’ve given into this and it doesn’t work out. You end up choking your plants or not producing as nice a vegetable as you could have had you given proper space. Roots need room and plants need nutrition. Accept that space is limited and you will be happier at the end of the season!
  3. Critters. I can’t have chickens or guineas to help keep the bad bugs at bay. I also can’t guard our yard from bunnies, squirrels, cats, and chipmunks. So we use some netting to protect some things and hope for the best with others. Also we keep a close eye on everything. The kids have gotten good about looking closing over the plants everyday. It’s important because one squash bug can turn into dozens VERY quickly. Better to lose one plant than all of them!
Peppers and Zinnias. The zinnias were planted by our daughter, 4 at the time.

I must say I love having a garden and we didn’t have to have those 2 acres at all. We still are able to grow a fair amount of produce on this little 1/3 of an acre. We use containers, grow from the ground, and have a raised bed.

This year we have planted: limas (of course), tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers (new for me!), green beans (my daughter’s), sunflowers.

I hope to put a video up that shows how we planted this year. I structured it with a children’s story in mind. 🙂

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