my brother in law david answers your questions and comments re: april's garden blog (see last month).
I read everyone's comments. Here is more information about our garden.
There is no question that I was totally inspired by Martha Stewart and consider Martha and Alexis to be part of our extended family. Last July, my wife (Stacy) and I visited Martha at her beautiful home in Maine. I was completely blown away by her garden and the amazing tastes of all of the fruits and vegetables. I was immediately hooked and driven to start our own garden. Of course, Martha was the ultimate host - I'm fortunate to have access to Martha - she's the real deal!
My first task: learn everything - I went straight to MarthaStewart.com, the obvious starting point, and read dozens of articles and watched tons of videos. Then I purchased 5-6 books on organic gardening, plants, garden rooms, outdoor projects - you name it. I now watch two great TV shows on gardening: "Cultivating Life" and "Victory Garden" (both on PBS) - I'm obsessed!
By January, I knew what I wanted to plant, the number of plants that I needed, the optimal pH needed to grow each plant, the dimensions of each raised bed, what wood I would use (untreated white cedar - it lasts for years and doesn't contain chemicals), the date I needed to plant seeds and the date that I needed to transplant them in the garden. I also got approval from Jennifer and Keith to setup the garden in their backyard because they had a great flat open area (my wife and I and our 3 kids, Jennifer and Keith and their 2 kids and my father-in-law all live on the same property). No, we don't get into fights living that close together - these particular individuals play nicely together (other than normal kid scruffles).
I learned that Martha buys many of her seeds from Johnny Seeds in Maine so I purchased seeds from them to arrive in time to plant indoors in mid-February (they have a great catalog with lots of information about gardening). I then purchased grow lights and set up an "indoor greenhouse" in my basement. We now have 330 seedlings growing in our basement.
In March, we removed the grass from Jen's backyard and started building the frame using railroad ties - we have extraordinary help from our gardener/handman and his helpers. We then brought in amazing soil to cover the entire garden bed.
Next year, we intend to lay brick in the areas outside of the raised beds. The entire garden is 60' by 60' with a 17' by 17' open area in the center - this will ultimately become a work and dining area. It has cost several thousand dollars to put the garden together; hopefully, the money that we save from not buying fruits and vegetables at the market will start to offset the startup costs (we buy tons of expensive blueberries at the market so we will definitely save some money)!
Since we live in Zone 7 (Google "USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map" if you aren't aware of your zone), I planted some of our plants around April 15 (the average last frost date for our area) and will plant a lot more after May 15 (the last possible frost date for our area).
The only regret that I have with the garden is that I didn't start years ago - Bunny (my mother-in-law) would have loved to have been part of the process of setting up the garden since she was really into flowers and landscaping - she would have hated the railroad ties framing the garden (she would have wanted expensive stonework or a white picket fence framing the garden).
Thanks for some of the hot husband comments; and no, I'm not Jarrod!