Our daughter has a 12 x 12 area where we have been growing veggies.   The first year, it did great.  We grew about 50 spaghetti squash, some zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, flowers and herbs.

July 2011

The second year was disappointing.

We were plagued by poor, clay-filled soil and invasive grass.

Our Garden was disappointing in 2012

I knew we needed to fix the soil in order to achieve success.

And then I read a great book which gave me the idea of what to do:

Vertical Vegetable Gardening, A Living Free Guide , by Chris McLaughlin. 

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: ALPHA (December 31, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1615641833

12 x 12 garden area.

So, on January 1st, 2013 I began to create a raised bed in which to make our improved soil.

 Here is how our garden looked when we began.

 We had an Asian Pear tree in the center and a climbing rose to the side.

We needed to build a border around the outside to contain the new soil, and around the existing plants, to keep them from being smothered.

A man with a truck and tools came in handy here

That’s where Jim came in.

He agreed to spend the first day of this year using his muscles, truck, and tools.

Jim built a cinder block well around the existing plants.

We happened to have six planter boxes.

 Nabbed from a yard sale –for free.

Jim bolted them together.

Then we started to create our layers.
First came the cardboard.  This served to smother the grass.

Adding a layer of cardboard.

Next came a layer of newspaper, about 2 inches thick.
Our little helper watered it well.

Watering the newspaper layer

Then came a layer of soil, followed by a layer of compost…

A layer of manure

… followed by a layer of leaves.

 A layer of leaves

…followed by a layer of soil,

then a bunch of composted steer manure,

… a half-bale of straw…

and more soil.

Garden areas and foot paths created with reclaimed brick

We used leftover tree poles and deer fencing for supports on two sides of the garden.
And we used reclaimed brick to create garden segments and foot paths.
We also eliminated the climbing rose, reducing the size of the inner well.

Almost Ready to plant

And then we enjoyed rare snowfall while waiting for the last frost date.

Our Compost sandwich with snow

The only thing left to do was to plan the garden and install the drip irrigation

— a must in our desert climate.

Drip irrigation

Jim installed a system of in-line emitters to saturate the planting areas.

Here our strawberries will share a bed with pansies,

followed by bush beans and calendula.

A bed of herbs

We we are excited about the way things are shaping up.

Our main helper is not pleased with the bugs she sees, so her mommy provides a girly kneeling mat.

Learning how to walk in a garden bed.

I show her how to plant seeds.
And I am reminded of the promise that you will “reap what you sow.”

Planting Seeds

Planting is accomplished.

4 tomato varieties, 4 pepper varieties, zucchini, Mexican grey squash, 2 varieties bush beans, 2 varieties strawberry, arugula, lettuce, radish,  2 varieties basil, chive, cilantro, mint, parsley, marigold, pansy, calendula.

We used as many heirloom varieties as we could find.

Completed 3-16-13

Here is our garden on March 16th, 2013

Compost Sandwich Garden Experiment

 Here it is on May 1st

Thank you for joining us.

We will keep you posted on our progress.

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