I’m long overdue for an update on my gardening projects, which, unlike my posts on the subject, have not been on a year-long hiatus.  In my last updates back in 2011, I had been making attempts at turning our back yard into something more than a clear-cut suburban plot of crappy dirt and dead Bermuda grass.  Those efforts continue.

I’ll start with a quick recap of 2012…

After the previous year’s drought destroyed my neglected backyard lawn and left it completely defenseless against weeds, I decided to try seeding some more drought-tolerant and lower-maintenance native grass.  In the Spring I killed off a big square of lawn and weeds with a couple applications of RoundUp (although I generally don’t like using the stuff, it’s too effective to ignore in certain scenarios that don’t involve edible plants).  Then I tilled it up and incorporated a bit of compost before finally spreading a bag of Habiturf over the area.  Thanks to a fairly wet Spring and some occasional supplemental watering, the grass has actually become fairly established.

Habiturf is a mixture of buffalograss, blue grama and curly-mesquite grasses.

A year later, it has established itself quite well. The dark patches are dillo dirt I just spread. Read on to find out what the big boxy thing is ;) .

My other big project last year was a second aquaponics (AP) system, this time outdoors.  It was mostly successful.  I lost some fish (many after a sudden chill in October before I had installed a heater), but at $0.27/ea (Petsmart feeder goldfish), that didn’t break the bank.  We got a few bell peppers and tons of cherry tomatoes out of the system.  Interestingly, the AP cherry tomatoes stayed cool enough to survive the summer and resumed producing in the Fall before it finally started freezing.  My tomatoes in the soil garden did well until summer, but unlike the AP tomatoes, never produced again.  (On this topic, I highly recommend Brandywine tomatoes for fresh eating…delicious.)

Besides peppers and tomatoes, I tried growing a number of other things in my soil garden last year (summer squash, zucchini, watermelon and carrots in the summer; spinach, lima beans and brussels sprouts in the winter) and while the spinach did ok and we got a couple dozen brussels sprouts, the rest really failed.  Partly I think I didn’t water/mulch enough, and partly I think my garden didn’t have enough compost and good, deep soil.

To hopefully have better results this year, I decided to go all out and build a monster of a raised garden – a keyhole garden, to be exact (many thanks to my folks for helping me bag and haul about 1.5 yards of soil and compost from Whittlesey Landscape Supplies).  I’ve just started planting in it so we’ll see how it does, but if it fails this time, it shouldn’t be for any of the reasons I listed above (it has loads of turkey compost, very deep soil, and timed drip irrigation).

I’ve been posting more frequent updates to my YouTube channel, so feel free to subscribe there.  I’ll also try to be a bit better about posting updates here ;) .

Thanks for reading!

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