Updated: Apr 26, 2021
When we moved into our house four years ago, one of the first things I wanted was a vegetable garden. If you had seen the yard back then, you would have thought I was crazy -- because there was no yard, just a field of weeds, vines, and years of overgrowth.
We cleared some of it ourselves and when we found we couldn't do it all, we found a local kid with a tractor and tiller and -- voila! -- we had ourselves a yard! With a bunch of stone pavers that were left behind by the previous owner, we built a raised-bed garden, and for 3 years it served us perfectly with enough room to produce peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and lettuce that produced modestly and gave us some decent summer harvests.
But as we continue to find ways to be more self-sufficient, I started thinking about canning and freezing our summer bounty to last through the winter. The idea of expanding the garden started to really take shape last fall. How big was it going to be? Where would it be in the yard? And then, if we plan to do all that canning and freezing, we'd need a mini fridge and a freezer and a vacuum sealer.
With the pandemic keeping us around more, it seemed like a good time to invest in our home. (We are also going solar, but that's a story for another day.) Once the last plants were harvested, we ripped out all the pavers from the garden and started planning the bigger bed size. After realizing removing all the sod from the new garden space was probably suited for someone without chronic back issues, I bartered with a local landscaper, E&G Garden Design in Amherst, to have him do the heavy heaving.
With that done, we spread the dirt from the old raised beds, added some local horse and donkey manure (thanks Corey, Buck and Bella!) and hunkered down for the winter.
I originally thought I might be able to get away with using a manual fence hole digger for the fence posts, but after toiling away on the first hole and only getting a foot down before I hit solid rock, I realized this was a job for some serious machinery.
We rented a gas-powered auger and called in the troops for help.
Adam and I manned the auger, while Sue and Anna wrangled the posts into place. It was a full team effort, which made the project even more fun. I had never used an auger before and the soil was so full of rocks it took all of our weight to pump that machine up and down about six times per hole to reach our depth of 2 feet. It was exhausting but super satisfying to know we could handle such a project.
Now we should have room to grow more cucumbers for pickles and relish, tomatillos for salsa, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, peppers, lettuce and more.
It's all just one more step toward our RUOV goal of homemade, environmentally friendly and local.