American Gardens: Ohio Gardener Plants His Way to Independence

Ohio’s American Gardener Tim has been busy–there’s the garden at the house, and then there’s the “Buckeye Garden” he’s planted at the land he and his partner have purchased for their eventual off-grid retirement place. The soil there hasn’t ever been farmed, so he’s looking for some good garden results. He’s put some of his Lehman’s seeds in, but the overall garden contains just about any crop an off-gridder would want. Check it out.

Tim's new raised beds, before the seedlings go in.
Tim’s new raised beds, before the seedlings go in.

Tim says:
I’ve planted all my Lehman’s seeds finally! Ironically, the construction of my raised beds at the house, and the lousy weather means I got a late start in the suburban and the retirement house gardens.

I built the retirement place beds to extend my growing season because they can be covered to become miniature greenhouses for early planting and late fall harvests. I’m looking forward to experimenting with fall planting in a big way this year.

Tim's beans and peas growing well.
Peas and beans doing really well! The beans are reaching up to the top of the string trellis.

My peas are doing great too, at least the ones birds didn’t get as seeds. I’ll be doing an August planting for a Fall harvest, starting the peas under a strip of black plastic sheet until they sprout. And of course, since the peas are doing well, so are the Lazy Housewife Beans.  They’re really heading for the top of the wired trellis.

The retirement place is in Southwest Ohio. The area has problems with bugs, and because the land wrapped around the Buckeye Garden is in a hidden valley with a fair-sized creek, there is a lot of dew almost every morning. There’s a lot of potato fungus too. I needed to be creative to keep the ‘taters growing well.

Peek in at the potatoes! Tim picked up the containers cheap. He recommends checking end of season sales for containers.

To keep my potatoes happy, I put them in buckets–you can see them in the picture to the right.

The buckets have six 1/2″holes drilled in the bottom and 16 more divided into two rows across the sides for ventilation.

I sunk the bottoms into the ground, so they’ll stay put, even in Ohio’s toughest thunderstorms.

I have 3″ of straw covered with 6″ of compost mixed half with sand that the plants are in.

Now I pack with straw every second layer of leaves as the plant grows. I add 2″of compost to the old layer of straw right befow I add a new layer.

Raised beds at Buckeye Garden at the retirement homeplace.
Raised beds at Buckeye Garden at the retirement homeplace.

By 5 pm the entire garden is shady! Our half of the valley has a 5-acre field that floods bi-yearly. I dream of a small tractor and the Buckeye garden growing to a 2 acre plot from its current 30’x 70′ footprint!

Onions, cucumbers and lettuce in the low bed to the left, and peppers (mild to nuclear) in the low bed to the right, with Dragon Carrots and squash.

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