On This Dirt I Will Build My Garden

December 24th, 2015

The major earth work (backfilling the foundation) around my new house under construction is finally done so I have had the opportunity to lay out my garden.


This area still had its normal natural forest top soil, but then a portion had been used for fill dirt storage, so there is probably a remnant layer of that, and then I had trucked in 40 yards of sifted blended compost to go on top. This compost product was quite expensive (about 30 bucks a yard, similar product in Michigan was $18) but guaranteed to be weed free. Overall compost and top soil I find to be much more expensive down here in Tennessee than it was up in Michigan, I think perhaps the natural top soil available down here, with so few low lying areas, just is not that much. Supply and demand and all of that. The top soil they do have is also a different color (this dark black compost aside) and tends to be light brown, the color of Michigan fill dirt. There is probably a post there in comparing the dirt on a more scientific level and figuring out why the color is different.

At my old home I had about 100 sq/ft of garden space dedicated for vegetables, I would grab possibly another 100 sq/ft from the ornamental beds here or there or by using containers, but overall, not a lot of space.

This new garden I laid out is 54×125, over 6000 sq/ft. The dirt alone was over $1000, the deer proof fence is looking to be much more than that, but man I will have a lot of room. My son keeps asking “Can we plant corn?” Yes, we will have enough room to plant corn. 1000 sq/ft I’m actually going to partition off and use for chickens. I want to have my chicken run directly attached to my garden so I can use them for cleanup and weed control. During the main growing season I can keep them out, but in the fall and spring let them in to scratch the soil up, find weed seeds or bugs, or tear apart old plants.


My overall goal has always been to grow as much of my own food as possible, this size will allow me to accomplish that. This plot will be dedicated entirely to vegetables, I may put a couple berries in there, I may not, I haven’t fully decided. But I have more room on my property for other beds. I will of course have large ornamental gardens, probably at least 5000 sq/ft of those, but I already have a place dedicated to fruit trees (I will end up with 20 mixed varieties of apples, pears, plums, apricots, and peaches). I have pecan trees as well. I have spots picked out for berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries), grapes (hopefully enough to make some wine), and kiwi. The fencing will likely be the hardest thing, as I’m sure the deer will get into everything that isn’t fenced. I will also be growing some venison.

I have certain goals for my garden. To provide my family with vegetables during the growing season on a daily basis is one. Another is to produce enough to provide say 50 quarts of tomato sauce a year (italian once a week). Perhaps 50 butternut squashes (risotto once a week). I would like to be able to produce a year’s supply of salsa verde which I think might be 50 pints. I would like to be able to produce spinach and kale almost year round to add to dishes, or have extra to freeze to get through the couple months where they won’t grow down here. Then of course I will have to can, freeze, or dry to preserve the inevitable excesses. I would also like to have to buy as little chicken feed as possible (and later, hog feed).

I think the size I have will allow me to do this, I can’t wait to get started. One thing I need is a heavy duty tiller to blend these layers of soil together and fluff it up. I could also possibly rent one, but ideally I’m hoping to get my own.

6 Responses to “On This Dirt I Will Build My Garden”

  1. Krishna Ragunathan  Says:

    Hi, those are some pretty impressive goals, but the space looks fantastic. I was wondering if you had any advice for how to get started for an aspiring gardener. Unfortunately I’m in the northeast and there’s quite a bit of snow coming down, so I’m not sure if I could do outdoor planting…

    But thanks!

  2. Administrator  Says:

    For edible gardening it is this: start with the best, loosest, deepest, soil you can – and never underestimate the power of sunlight. No amount of water and fertilizer can make up for a shady location.

    For ornamental gardening it is this: layer plants in odd numbers with contrasting foliage (color, texture, and growth habit). Group together red plants with blue/silver, green, and yellow. Use grasses, plants with fine foliage like pines, plants with larger foliage. Use plants that grow bushy, that grow tall, that show off bark, that are weeping.

  3. David Hamlin  Says:

    Wow, that’s a huge amount of space! I can’t wait to see what you end up doing with it 🙂

  4. claireolson  Says:

    Thanks for shared this post This is a general guide to preparing dirt for gardening.

  5. Van Leeuwen Green  Says:

    Having your own garden can provide you with many benefits such as growing your own food. However, you need to plan it well to get the best results and make sure the gardens health is maintained. It can take up a lot of time, effort and creativity. If it’s going to be tough for you to plan do all these, you can always contact experts.

    A well-planned garden will give you the best results. While you can always do this yourself, you might just want to leave this to the capable hands of experts.

  6. Michael  Says:

    i like your ideas… i did something similar a few years ago with about 6 chickens and a small garden, about 30×30. i found that the chickens really liked to eat the new vegetable plants. i got to them in time, but a few more minutes and all that work and growth would have been gone.

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