Gardening in the past (same location, different lifestyle):
During that time period we tilled a spot, layed black plastic over it, and then planted a "salad garden"-one or two tomato plants, a few green beans, one cucumber, and one or two zucchini.
Gardening last year (first year of homestead lifestyle)
We tilled a slightly larger spot, layed black plastic over it, and then planted a garden- tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, corn, zucchini, lettuce, spinach,... you get the idea. And that worked really well. Except when something was harvested through the plastic, there was a big hole left that sent out personal invitations for the weeds to come have a party at my house. At the end of the garden season last fall we pulled up the plastic and the weeds immediately started encroaching from all sides! Add to that the fact that I really don't like tilling (not the actual work, DH does that) and this Hoosier Girl was not happy with gardening.
So this year, after some arm-twisting, and pleading, and deliberately finding stuff for DH to do so he didn't have time to till (we really did need that buck pen!) I have been given the go ahead to experiment with the garden! And experimenting it is.
First I laid out my goals
1. Have fun
2. Plant things that have been proven to grow well- for a comparison.
3. Plant some new things for variety.
4. Start as many seeds as I could inside to make the planting in dirt that wasn't tilled manageable (at least for the first year.)
5. Use more natural materials as a weed barrier.
And here is an update on how that is going:
1. I am having fun!
2. The cabbage, lettuce and spinach are growing as well as they did last year(those are the only ones up far enough to compare so far.)
3. There are radishes almost ready to pick and today I planted celery and beets for the first time ever!
4. I DID start several seeds indoor and had beautiful seedlings ready to go out after the last frost. However a bad experience with the exterminator destroyed every single one of them. I don't know why I didn't think to move them before the treatment! :(
5. Every place in the garden where I placed straw from the chicken coop and goat sheds and the wasted hay from the goat pens has NO WEEDS. So every time I clean them out, I place the piles in the garden. The weeds are slowly being eliminated!
As the plants continue to grow, the plan is to place the straw/hay around them to hold in moisture.
Of course it isn't going to happen overnight, this will be a long work in progress.
But hopefully it will all work out well and everyone will be impressed with my new gardening skills!