We moved here in March 2013. For the climate and seasons in Charlotte this was a bit of a late start for a summer garden, but gardening was a top priority for us. We immediately began building our beds, getting the greenhouse in place, pruning the overhanging limbs that would block a good bit of summer sun and generally gearing up to start planting.
Part of any good garden, especially if you really want to maximize space in a smaller or urban setting, is planning. Since we were buying our home we had a month and a half to plan before we closed and were able to get started. Our original plans are below at the bottom of the page - we stuck to them for the most part with very little to change. All of this was built on an existing concrete pad, presumably poured a few years back for parking.
After designing the layout of the beds in the raised bed garden area we enlisted Russell Post of Post Construction to build them (along with the fencing, arbors and base / foundation for the greenhouse).
The greenhouse was ordered from Southern Gardens Grow. We purchased the 12' x 12' Freedom Greenhouse with self-watering table and interior lighting both powered from a solar panel. The watering table is perfect for getting seedlings started and can be set up for once or twice a day watering.
Once the beds were built we lined the bottom of them with chipped hardwood - about 6" - 8". That was then covered with compost and soil brought in by Jake Casteen with Casteen Lawn & Tree. Jake, an arborist, also pruned the surrounding canopy of trees (mostly pecans) surrounding our back-yard for maximum exposure / sunlight. Jake also tranplanted the fruit trees from the space we were leaving and installed them throughout the landscaping at our new location.
While we would typically start most of our own seeds or trade plants with other gardeners we didn't have time for this first year so we picked up seedlings from various garden centers and garden supply spots around town and got started!
While we had the beds laid out and the set-up was pretty final, the first year is still an experiment for which plants do well in which location within the garden. We made a number of assumptions about the best spots for the most sun, less sun, shade, etc. Many were accurate, others not so much!
For year 2 we'll make a number of adjustments, pruned back a bit more of the tree canopy nearby, and generally will take what we learned from year 1 to increase our yield, place plants where the sun makes more sense for them, and alternate what we plant with different varieties and different amounts of each plant (example: okra did so well that we had far more than we need or want, but we had a lot less beans than we'd want, so up the count for one and cut the count for the other!).
Linwell Farms - Getting Started
Soil arrives to fill the beds! With so much to fill buying by the truck is far more efficient and cost-effective than attempting to buy bags and bags from your local landscape supply or garden center.