My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Over the years we have had numerous gardens here on the ranch.  Most of which have been in my large garden area and for one reason or another they have always gotten away from me.  I think it was mainly due to trying to do too much at once.

This last winter we moved our geese into that garden to clean it up, and well we have just kept right on housing them there at night.  

Now it is spring and the geese are all comfy in their totally enclosed pen and so we are looking at different gardening options.

There are numerous things to consider when planning a garden of any sort.  Besides soil, sun, and water availability. One such thing is the fact we travel a lot and Sean can only do so much each night after work before it gets dark.  So it has to be an easy to maintain garden for those days we are gone.

Another thing to consider is none of us are as spry as we use to be and we aren’t getting any younger.  So working low, even in my  raised gardens has been getting harder and harder to do.

So in 2015 we are trying a different approach, we are going back to container gardening, but raising it up off the ground high enough that it can be worked either from a standing position or sitting on my gardening bench.

Because the geese are enjoying the larger garden area we decided to put the container garden in the small goose pen where fencing will help keep the geese, when free ranging, from consuming everything in the garden.  

This location will also help keep my over-zealous spring enthusiasm from expanding this garden to beyond the easy to care for dictate. 

Budget, as always, was another concern.  We have already invested hundreds if not thousands in the large garden area in the past and didn’t want to do that again.

So the 2015 Experimental Garden needed to be compact, intensely companion planted, and efficient.

Here’s how it is going so far.

First my husband removed the tree branches that had fallen in the pen over the winter, weed whacked the grass and weeds as short as he could in the long narrow pen and then gathered cinder blocks from around the property that were not currently being used for other projects.

The cinder blocks were stacked two high in a single row every four feet for sixteen feet.  This was to be the length of the garden “bed”.  It doesn’t sound like much, but for what I have planned I feel it will be sufficient.

On top of the cinder block he ran two lengths of landscape timbers with the flat side up to act as support between the cinder blocks.  

As he did this I went around the property looking for suitable “planters”.  Because I was mainly planting tomatoes, which can have a taproot of 21 inches I needed large pots.  Which I already had several of in the main garden area.

One problem, those pots were either too heavy to move, or crumbling due to the years of being out in year round weather.  Most of those were not going to work.  Better to leave them where they were to grow native grasses for the geese in.

At Gary’s suggestion I took a hard look at other options, including some black plastic file boxes.  Their size and shape were great for the use I had in mind, but their color had me concerned.  I didn’t want to bake my garden while it was growing and Oklahoma summers can get intense.

After much consideration I decided to go with them because during the hottest days I can use shade cloth over them and during the cooler fall days they will help extend the harvest, hopefully.

We had nine of those boxes still in useable condition despite being over 20 years old.  That still left a lot of space to fill in on the long narrow support system Gary had assembled.

I found five large round flower pots that could be moved and used.  They were added to the group growing outside the short fence to be lifted into the garden once the base was ready. 

The remainder of the space was filled with 5 gallon soda syrup jugs we had received for free from a local feed store that Gary had previously cut the bottom off of.  By turning these upside down the spout became the drain to prevent over watering.  

Once all the containers were gathered outside the fence they were moved into the little garden where they were placed alternating the white colored jugs between the dark colored containers to help distribute the heat from or the lack there of the sun depending upon the season. The black tubs would be heat sinks so to speak. 

Gary drilled drain holes in the containers that didn’t already have some and we are ready to begin filling the garden up.

This gave me 16 feet of roughly 2 foot wide garden space.  In another subsection of the pen we will place an old, beyond repair,  wheel barrel as a planter.  More on this in a later post.

I already have porch rail flower baskets on my porches so I ordered a roll of coconut fiber to line them with.  The plan is to fill these baskets with items like herbs, radishes, and other shallow growing edibles, including edible flowers.  I will add more about this as time goes on as well.

I had attended the Sand Springs Herbal Affair in April and had been working hard at keeping tomato, pepper and catnip plants alive indoors until the weather leveled out some.  If it ever levels out in Oklahoma.

These would be the first thing to plant, but first I needed to fill all those pots. 
I am a firm believer in organic gardening via the Lasagna Gardening method, be it on the ground, or in a pot.  I had several bags, albeit not enough, of compost and garden soil on hand.  I also had an abundance of pine needles and leaves  That left only peat moss/coconut fiber substitute that would be needed to help hold moisture in the pots. 
By using the soils I had on hand that helped cut the cost of the set-up at to a minimum.  

Up to that point we had spent $14 for the four landscape timbers because all the ones we currently had were being used.  We had also spent $15 on garden plants to that point.

Most everything else I plan on growing from seed and because I am a seed saver and a bargain shopper I have pretty much all the seeds I need on hand.

Therefore the entire cost up to this point of this garden, including the natural moisture control will be under $50 once the coconut fibers are all paid for.

Not a bad start.

Jan who will go into the intensive planting of the pots in her next post in OK

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