Enclosed Vegetable Garden

stephf(5a)August 20, 2012

Hi everyone!

When we bought our new house this summer, we inherited this vegetable garden in the backyard. At least I THOUGHT it was a vegetable garden until one of the kids who lives behind us told us that the previous owner actually kept rabbits in there. If it can keep the bunnies in, it can keep the bunnies out, right?!

The problem is, well, I'm sure you can see what the problem is. The thing is just downright fugly and overgrown. Believe it or not, I actually removed all of the overgrowth not too long ago. Some of the wood is rotting and pulling away from the gate. The chicken wire is in pretty good shape though. I want to fix it up and make it look pretty so that it can hold vegetables next year and actually look like it belongs in the yard. I have visions of putting down stone or mulch over the entire fenced in area and building raised beds, and perhaps having some plants grow over the sides of the chicken wire. However, the enclosure is only 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 feet, so I feel like my visions are a little too ambitious. So, if you inherited this thing in your backyard, what would you do with it?

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Raise chickens!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 1:56PM
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It is usable, though small. You can use it as, say, tomato patch (9 plants) one year, and cabbage patch the next. The soil will be rich, the seed bank bad. Keep a pile of mulch nearby, use transplanted plants only, and mulch June 15, when most weeds are up but small, so that you are effectively depleting the seed bank. Place a grass barrier around it. Add some nitrogen every now and again and you are good to go.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 2:14PM
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I personally would make it bigger. But a good structure too start. I would start with cutting one side off to extend it more into your yard. Which ever way has more space..or you can just ad on and leave the fence as a barrier. Your not going to be able to put many raised beds in that small of a area.
But it will work for some small plants. I've learned my lesson. Tomatoes get huge! A long with.a lot of other things.

I'd start with figuring out how big you want to make it and figuring out how to built the structure. Don't make it difficult veggies don't care about how it looks as long as it will support them.

You mentioned you would like grow something up one side..I would recommended on the east side or side that's not shading anything. To build a high trellis and run some cucs or string beans or cantaloupes...etc.

Once you figure out the size and get it build. Then go in measure how many raised beds you could fit. Take in mind raised beds need pathways to get to each bed froM both side. I'd recommend no less than 4 feet wide.� Use treated would but line the inside with thick plastic to keep out chemicals. I didn't this year. Opps.

Remember you asked what we would do. This is all my personally opinion and am not a experienced garden at all. But tend to enjoy it very much so.

After your raised beds are built. Bring them into incloser. Level them out and fill them with great soil...compost and other good stuff. I'd do your research first.

You also use 5 gallon buckets on the outside of it to grow extra such.
There's tons of different ways to.build structures and grow veggies. Just think outside the box and have fun.
Research first before doing anything. That way you wont have to do it twice. But trial and error is the best teacher.

Here is my inclosure. Hope this helps. Feel free to email me with any others questions. Always willing to offer my 2 cents.

Here is also the link to a old post where I showed my entire process of the build. Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Thanks for the responses, although I can say with certainty that I won't be raising chickens...

I have definitely thought about just ripping the whole thing down and building a nicer / bigger one in it's place. If this is what I decide to do, what size should I build the new one? If 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 is considered too small, and I don't want anything TOO big, what would you say is a "decent" sized garden?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Why not build a larger one next to it? Use both until the old wood rots away. Doesn't look like an eyesore to me IMO.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:14AM
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I would say go huge!
U don't have to plant in the entire thing
This year. But over the next few years you
will wish you went bigger.
mine in 20 by 16.
Wish it was 100 by 100

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:51AM
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A "decent sized garden" is one that is big enough to provide what you want, and small enough for you to be able to tend to it adequately.

Start by deciding what you want to produce, and how much you need for your family. Then think about where things should be planted (companion plantings, tall things not shadowing short plants, etc). Are you close to a source of water?

I agree with melikeeatplants, I don't think it is an eyesore, but if you want to pretty it up a bit, you might want to check out the potager forum. You will see some really nice set-ups there.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Do not constrain yourself to something that someone else built, for a completely different purpose, simply because it is there. There is really not much substance to that structure and I agree with you that it is very fugly. The most valuable things on it are the chicken wire and the gate hinges.

I agree with others: Tear it down, lose the rocks, clean the area up, then stand back and look at your entire yard area to decide what you want to do regarding a vegetable garden. Once cleaned up, you can stake out the dimensions of your new garden and run string lines to help you visualize your new layout and location.

Look at the big picture. Is that area even in the right location in your yard for growing veggies regarding sunlight, easy access to water, ease of both garden and lawn maintenance, etc.?

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:29AM
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melfield_wy(5b Wyoming)

Darn! I was with diespiter and say raise chickens! That would be a great chicken yard. Oh well...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Yeah, I'd tear the whole thing down! You'd be happier if you did. Just wait til the cooler weather comes in. Or, if you are allowed to have chickens, use it for a chicken coop! It is kind of an eyesore as others made mention, as well as you, I believe!
You could paint the wood if you do decide to reuse it next yr!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Is there a wildlife problem in the area?

If not what good does the enclosure do?

The soil inside should be really good for a few years, use or lose it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 6:03PM
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There are rabbits that frequent the yard for sure, so I assume that's why it exists in the first place. This is our first year here, so I'm not sure how long veggies would last if they were not protected by an enclosure. Surprisingly enough, the enclosure was built in the sunniest spot in the yard, so if I was to rebuild, it would likely be in the same spot.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Great ideas already shared. You'll find more ideas on the potager forum for use of that fenced area for intensively planted raised beds with permanent paths that will produce quite a bit of produce if the soil is well prepped & watered deeply as needed. Once you start growing lovely plants the existing structure will be hidden.

Untreated lumber screwed into frames with corner braces to be raised beds to hold the soil around the perimeter of the fence and no more than 4' wide in the middle will give you quite a bit of growing space. Be sure to make 3' wide paths to make gardening easier because once beds are full of plants narrow paths make it difficult to get around.

Happy Gardening,

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:33PM
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I don't think it's "fugly," I think it's charming, called "shabby chic!" I wouldn't bother with raised beds, but that's just me. Have fun.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:51PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

if rabbits were there - must have a lot of um - fertilizer!

make this your garden, work it a year or so, and if you get the bug, go bigger, but it may well satisfy your gardening needs and you can always go bigger later.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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