July 7, 2015 @ 5:33 PM

I had my surgeries for tennis elbow and trigger thumb last week. On day 2 I was going stir crazy and just had to get out in the garden. I worked out the little things I could do with my left hand such as weeding and picking berries and veggies and hugging chickens. Mike did a wonderful job of waiting on me, cooking, grocery shopping, feeding the critters and, well, doing everything for everybody. Thankfully it rained every day so there was no watering to be done, and I was forced inside quite a lot.

My surgeries were needed because my right hand and arm were practically unusable since last Christmas or so. This prevented me from doing as much in my yard as I usually do, so all my efforts were pretty much put into the veggie garden. Mike put a fence around the raised beds this spring to keep the chickens out, and that wire ended up being a great way to support plants. I wanted to share some pictures of my 7' and 8' tall tomato plants, the 11' tall corn and the abundant cucumbers. No matter how small or large your garden plot, you can greatly increase how much you grow by figuring out how to grow things vertically.

Our raised garden has two beds that are 3' x 40' and six that are 3' x 16'. Mike left vertical posts uncut so that he can raise the beds as we get older. It takes a lot of dirt to fill these beds naturally with our method of using composted materials, and tall beds with a low soil level would make them harder to reach into.

We love the opportunity to use recycled materials. A customer was replacing his fence and gave Mike this gate.

Beans are spilling out from the fence, and in front are white dahlias. At the back end is home of Felix the bunny. Weeds and such go under his cage and are helped along by his poop. Bunny poop can be composted immediately while chicken poop has to age.

That bed to the left with the hoops is where the lettuce was planted. I just pulled the last of it to feed to the chickens after it bolted and have planted some late varieties of tomatoes that I grew from seed. We should get fresh maters until frost. Cukes are planted at the end.

This is the first box to the left of the gate and is planted with tomatoes that are now 7-8' tall. I didn't count on them getting so tall and they're not adequately supported.

This is one of the 40' beds and has cukes, beans, tomatoes, squash, asparagus, blackberries and grapes. Plants are in 2 "layers" - vertical growers that can be picked from the outside, squash and tomatoes that can be picked from the inside.

These are Yard Long Beans - a green bean that's actually 24-30" long, so you pick a small handful and have enough for dinner.


Where that white table is, I hope to have additional beds at the end of these "aisles" in the garden. Mike will probably do this for me because while I'm in the garden I'm not otherwise bothering him as much to build or make things for me. The more space I can garden, the longer the periods of silence.



Here's the other long box on the opposite side. It's planted with tomatoes and cucumbers.

The fence is doing a good job of keeping the birds out of the garden, but I caught Jagger the turkey in the act of eating ALL of the big green tomatoes last week that he could reach. At least he won't be able to get to the taller ones or the ones growing on the other side of the fence wire.

Here's the back side of the garden.

Here we have a damson, blackberries, grapes and raspberries. Just out of view, to the right, is a small young orchard line.

By thinking of what grows in which layer you can maximize planting. The box at the center rear has the yard long beans on the fence, grapes on one side of the arbor and kiwi on the other;sweet potatoes growing under the soil and edamame as the ground layer of this box.

The closer box was full of beets. While they were still growing underground I planted peppers and tomatoes to be filling in for later in the season.

And now for one of the highlights of the garden, LOL. This is a chicken tractor Mike made a couple of years ago. It's on wheels and allows you to protect the chickens from predators while they eat bugs and grass in your yard. I ran out of space to grow cantalopes this year and decided it would be adorable to park this near the garden. I could put some chickens in it and they would be shaded (lacking in the original incarnation).
HOWEVER, we've been having monsoon rains so I had to cover part of it with a tarp so the
chickens don't drown. The wind blew off the tarp so I leaned pallets against it. I know... very
classy. But it has inspired a whole new design for next year that I'm really excited about.
Now I just have to see if Mike gets excited enough to do it for me.