This our victory garden. It’s a personal victory, a victory against Big Ag, GMOs, pesticides, and three week old veggies. And it cost about $50 to set up and just dollars a year to sustain. Cinder blocks: $26. Organic humus x3: $6. Organic top soil x3: $15. 1/2 bag of Dr. Earth Organic fertilizer. I happened to have many plants going from last year and seeds, but seeds are suuuuuper cheap. And this project is perfect for the military lifestyle, it sets up quickly with no tilling and the grass is intact underneath when you move, it just takes a little time to spring back.
The cinder blocks are $1.08 each, minus military discount (yes, Lowes and Home Depot both give 10% off with ID). 26 total are needed for this design, and they weigh enough you’ll probably want to make 2 trips. Be careful, your car won’t brake as fast with a dozen of these suckers in the trunk.
You can see the layout pretty well in the photos, and once you have them arranged as such, lay down newspaper to keep the grass from growing up through. Then mix one bag of humus, one bag of topsoil, and one cup of fertilizer in each section, and scoop some into each hole. The beauty of this design is that each of the holes makes it’s own planter for herbs and smaller plants. We set up three sections, you can do more or less. I wouldn’t make them any larger, because this way you can rest your foot on the block when you reach into the garden.
This is my salsa section, with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and various hot peppers. The front is lined with herbs like basil, rosemary, cilantro, lemongrass, green onion shoots, and lavender. The back has various pepper plants, which I buy as seedlings because peppers are so hard to grow from seed. These all play nice together (see my pinterest for more on companion gardening). Peppers and tomatoes both benefit from a spritz with epsom salt dissolved in warm water. Spray them in the evening whenever a bunch of new buds bloom–if you do it in the heat of day it will wilt the leaves from evaporating too fast. And when it doubt, always better to under fertilize than over fertilize. Peppers and tomatoes also need to have the little green worms picked off them (a great task for kids to find them and collect them in a jar like a very gentle scavenger hunt). They’re harmless but hungry, and if you find tomatoes with a hole or two, just pluck them immediately, cut out the hole-y part, and make fried green tomatoes with the rest.
This is my DIY trellis, recycling a leftover piece of fencing. Lettuce likes shade and cucumbers like sun and climbing. Once the cucumbers are established, I will prop up the trellis at a 30 degree angle and train the vines to climb up, where the leaves will provide even more shade for the lettuce. You can pluck leaves of lettuce as needed, they’ll grow back. Lettuce and cucumbers also play well together, I highly recommend planting them this way.
The last section is still in progress, it has squash and spinach, and I’ll add more hardy herbs when the seedlings go on sale soon, and more peppers. I’d love to be able to can enough tomatoes and salsa, and pickle peppers and cucumbers, and propagate onions and garlic to keep us through the winter. And when you think about how much one organic bell pepper runs at the Commissary (currently, about a buck fifty), how can you resist giving this a shot? If you can swing it, it’s so worth the time to have fresh organic vegetables on demand, payday or not, for less cash, and did I mention a great family activity?
I’m so psyched to see what our apple and pecan trees do this fall.