I came home this summer after having enjoyed all kinds of GFL (good, fresh, local) food at the University of Nebraska and wanted to grow some myself. After searching instructables I came to realize that there were no complete how-to's on a simple, some what cheap, vegetable garden that would be suitable for the suburbs, let alone in hot So Cal. Naturally, a few thrift store books later I had a plan and here are the fruits (pun totally intended) of that labor!
Two books I would highly recommend looking at before starting:
-"Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening" (a very good reference book-$5 at thrift)
-"The Victory Garden Companion" (overall good and very "pretty" book that covers all gardening aspects- $9 at close out store)
This instructable is in four basic sections:
1. Bed Preparation
3. Growing and Watering System (including problems experienced and Fixes)
4. Harvest and the Long Term
1 pair of gloves-$2
Dirt/compost x7 or more - may end up about 60 dollars!
Garden Stake- < $10
Plants-$2-20, $40 -60 total
PVC and Fittings- $10
Tape Measure- Free
Rocks, stolen from bottom of one of my trees- Free
Paperclips to hold drip irrigation hoses- Free
Jeep-Free when borrowed.
On one last note before you begin, the whole goal of this project was to grow some healthy, good food as cheaply as I could manage, while leaving my yard mostly in-tact and with as little maintenance for my mom as possible while I am away at school. I have kept these ideas present in my design as seen by the simplicity of the final product. P.S. this instructable is entered in the Get into the Garden Contest and all votes are much appreciated!
Step 1: Plotting your Garden
As I am starting with a limited space, I have a few common plants that I want to grow, but the bed is the real decider of what will be planted. Hence, this instructable will start with the bed. In general there are two choices: raised bed, or, an in ground bed. Raised beds are good in that they provide great drainage and are not really affected by poor natural soil because they are above it. I have very sandy soil and as such will be mixing it to a limited extent with bought soil and compost to have a semi-raised bed.
You want an area that will be receiving at least 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. To get a general idea of what size area in my yard I would be dealing with, I used Google Earth, and the "Path" ruler to find the dimensions of my planting bed.
After an actual inspection of the garden I settled on the same rectangular area viewed on the map. It is important to take into account the slope of your land, as it will affect how your soil holds or loses water. A slight slope is ok, a steep one may mean you need to level the area which can be tough if you do not have a ton of time.