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Throw Back Thursday — Garden Gone Wild

Two days ago, I began this new blog by writing about the evolution of our Bakersfield Garden, ending with relocating the whole shebang by building raised beds on top of the back lawn in early 2009.

I thought it would be a good follow-up to show how well the garden grew that year, all because of being moved back into the sunshine.

Here’s how the beds looked in early 2009, under construction and, then, freshly planted:

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About a month later, we decided to add two traditional 4′ x 4′ Square Foot Gardening beds, to see if we’d like them, and we added a net trellis to one of the square foot beds to support beans and peas. We liked them a lot, but they were too low to work in comfortably (we’re just not as young as we used to be).

Garden mascot ... someone tossed this old cracked cement flamingo in our front yard, so we moved it to a place of honor in our first experimental Square Foot bed.

Garden mascot … someone tossed this old cracked cement flamingo in our front yard, so we moved it to a place of honor in our first experimental Square Foot bed.

I’m sure it was the novelty of having a brand new garden, but we planted at least three times as many tomato plants as we needed in the tall raised beds, placed shockingly close together as suggested by Mel. Fast forward to August 2009, and here’s how the garden looked, earning the title of Garden Gone Wild:

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As shown above, we put weed cloth beneath each bed to keep the Bermuda grass out, then added a thick layer of straw, sort of like lasagna gardening. The straw helped fill the beds less expensively, and also provided lots of organic material to increase drainage and build better soil.

It worked wonderfully, but by the end of the summer, the soil level was approximately 50% of what is was at the beginning. Each year since, we’ve had to add at least a cubic yard of additional compost, peat moss, and purchased “garden soil” (which is mostly shredded bark and wood chips) to top off each of the beds, especially as we’ve also made the beds taller over the years.

Our 2009 garden was a great, sprawling, joyously overgrown success, with very few weeds and good water retention here in the desert heat. I’ll soon be sharing more photos showing the progression of the physical structure of the garden during the past 5 years, to get to where we are today.

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