Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Spring has sprung in my little corner of Western Pennsylvania and I am super excited for all my projects and ideas for the future.  My first project this spring is more raised beds for vegetables.


Last year I removed some bushes from around the house and put in some raised beds.



This was great and I really enjoyed the bell peppers and tomatoes.  This year, with the addition of more beds, I am planting far more than two crops.  I have already planted carrots, lettuce, and spinach which have germinated and began their journey to maturity. 



The newest boxes that I put in will hold onions and potatoes.  As far as the soil goes, I have treated it all with sand, peat moss, and some packaged compost but am increasing the percentage of sand where I am planting the root crops.  I am attempting to try some zucchini again (which fail last year) but am fertilizing this time.  On the shaded side of the house, I am planting herbs. Other crops in the raised beds will be tomatoes and peppers again and in addition I will be planting beans, cucumbers, and possibly celery.  Also I will be planting complimentary flowers around the veggies and also some nice native wild flowers in flower beds in the front of the house. Vertically I am attempting cherry tomatoes and strawberries but who knows how that will turn out.  So the food outlook is good for my family and hopefully it is enough to share with family and friends at church.

Also this year, my family has become part of a CSA.  Sarver Hill Farm is a great operation and I plan on utilizing all parts of the share that come our way.  Also we are going to volunteer at the farm as often as we can because we believe that is what makes a CSA special. 

When the CSA crops stop coming in the fall, I am attempting to make a simple hydroponic system for making lettuce, maybe carrots, and tomatoes.  I have seen some neat contraptions and am trying to be frugal about it.

Recently my wife and I have begun to buy organic staple foods like cereal, flour, sugar, dry beans, rice, and fruits and veggies of course.  Making a garden is a start to our own food independence and hopefully we can buy a nice chunk of land someday and be independent of the global food chain.




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Comment by Jennifer on April 23, 2013 at 10:11am

Hey, Ryan: Thanks so much for sharing these photos. What a great reminder that we can use any and all available space to grow good food, and I bet these beds inspire at least a few of your neighbors to try gardening themselves. You're spreading the word! One comment—and I'm probably preaching to the choir here—but if you do supplement with fertilizer, be sure to look for organic, since a non-organic fertilizer will introduce all those things you've otherwise worked so hard to keep out. Other HOMEGROWN folks might have recommendations about specific brands. (Curious to hear anybody's thoughts!) Or maybe folks have thoughts on places you can get cheap compost—or ways to barter with friends and neighbors for some of theirs? In any case, it sounds like you guys have made really significant decisions in changing the way you eat. A nice chunk of land someday sounds awesome, but it's even more awesome that you're not waiting until then to work toward food independence. Between what you're growing yourselves, what you're choosing to buy, and the CSA you've joined, you're doing it now!

Comment by Ryan Lucas on April 23, 2013 at 10:49am



I believe this is the organic fertilizer I grabbed at the local gardening place.  I didn't do any research on it but it seems cool. 

Comment by Rick Nichols on April 23, 2013 at 9:49pm

We did a couple of raised beds also for herbs and for our centuple. We used cedar to keep the wood from rotting out and attracting some unwanted insects, and we defiantly did not want treated lumber. Our boxes are in their third year, and are still looking new.

Comment by Jennifer on April 24, 2013 at 10:04am

We've got more on raised beds in this 101, but please(!) add to it! I'll incorporate any tips/resources/ideas/suggestions/hopes/dreams you've got into the 101 proper.

Comment by Ryan Lucas on May 3, 2013 at 8:39am


I have planted the potatoes and onions in my new beds and the onions have started to pop up.  The lettuce, spinach, and carrots are coming in nicely and I will be thinning them tonight.


On the CSA front:

My wife and I have purchased a second CSA for the season.  The first one is all produce and the second one is a "card of credit" for 2 markets, a bakery, and a you can also purchase from their stands at the farm markets.  We will most likely use the second for meat and the stuff that the first CSA doesn't have.  FreedomFarmspa.com is the newest one (this is the farm that is on GACtv's show Farm Kings) and the first one which I absolutely endorse is Sarverhillfarm.org

Comment by Rick Nichols on May 4, 2013 at 9:24am

Wow, just re-reading here. My raised beds were for our herbs and Cantaloupe, not the whatever it ended up showing. Due to the slow start of spring this year (batteries are a little worn down) right now most of our early start peas and eggplant, onions, herbs, and cantaloupe, are in the basement crowded into a group of repurposed feed pans. The rest I hope will survive, but I think I will leave these in the pans and move them outside in total. We have a retired dog kennel around the two raised beds, I will just set the pans inside, we have feed way to many deer our starter plants over the years.


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