My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!


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the veggie garden

Here is what we’ve done so far…

1] Chris built the raised planter box.

2] I removed all of the weeds from below.

3] We covered the base with weed barrier because our backyard is full of weeds that turn into small trees.  No joke.  There is nothing stopping them.  I know a lot of the weeds are dandelions, which are edible, however, a lot are not.  We actually have quite invasive weeds in our backyard that are actually monitored by the city!  Also, our backyard is not truly a yard.  It’s covered in rocks and is where cars park since we have no garage.  We have alley access to our back”yard” which is very typical in Ft. Collins.  Garages are not visible from the streets here. 

garden (1 of 11)

4] We bought a ton of topsoil and luckily hit a good sale at ACE Hardware.

garden (2 of 11)

5]  One of the secret ingredients mixed into our soil [from the other day] is Cocogro coconut fiber!!  It’s used instead of peat moss and has loads of benefits.  ie: requires less watering, great drainage, helps retain nutrients, anti fungal properties, etc.

garden (3 of 11)

6] The third ingredient we used is called Agrichar.  It was actually developed by a biochemist here in town, and the only store where you can find this is in Ft. Collins.  We talked to the bio chemist and got to look at loads of studies he has done using this product.  We were blown away.

A few cool things about this product:

  • superior water retention
  • builds a living soil structure
  • better nutrient retention
  • reduces green house gases
  • no need to till the soil
  • little to no need for using fertilizer

For more detailed information check the Bath Garden Site.  I cannot even begin to explain how it works!  We are excited to see what happens.  Up front, this whole system cost about $40-50 more than a more standard mix of ingredients [soil, compost, peet moss, etc].  However, if all goes as planned it will save us money, as there should be no need to add anything else to the soil from year to year.

garden (4 of 11)

7] Instead of buying a wheelbarrow [ummm they are like $50-100!] we used an empty plastic storage tub.  Totally worked for soaking the coconut fiber blocks that you have to soak in water before mixing with the soil.

garden (5 of 11)

8] We used 60% topsoil, 30% coconut fiber, and 10% Agrichar. 

garden (6 of 11)

9] We layered soil, then coconut fiber, mixed them together, and repeated two more times.

garden (7 of 11)

10] Here is what the coconut fiber looks like after it soaks up 10 gallons of water.  It smelled amazing!

garden (8 of 11)

11] mix, mix, mix

garden (9 of 11)

12] This is what the soil + coconut fiber looks like after being mixed.

garden (11 of 11)

13] The Agrichar is simply sprinkled on top and then doused with water.

garden (10 of 11)

14] We’re trying to follow the square foot gardening method.  To mark the feet off I used bamboo skewers + twine.

garden (1 of 3) 

15] I stuck in a skewer every foot, then double knotted the twine on each end.

garden (2 of 3)

16] We have 32 square feet waiting to grow a lot of veggie goodness.  I hope!

garden (3 of 3)

17] Per a readers suggestion, we’re covering the weeds with a tarp to kill them.  They should die from lack of sun + moisture in a few weeks. We’re probably going to mulch around the veggie box to further help keep the nasty weeds away.  We also spread out the extra top soil bags for coverage as well.

garden (2 of 2)

18] I perused a companion planting guide and so far with what we’re growing, shouldn’t have any neighborly problems.  I used extra wide popsicle/craft sticks to mark which veggie goes where.

garden (1 of 2)

19] Tomorrow I plant and hope that it’s not too late into spring!  Typically it isn’t out here, but this year has been very unseasonable.  We’ll see how it goes!

Here’s what will be grown so far:

  • kale
  • carrots
  • chard
  • broccoli
  • sugar snap peas
  • spinach

20] I really know nothing about gardening!

21] Goodnight!


Reader Comments (28)

Exciting! Can't wait to see what pops up!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennF
I love how eco-friendly your veggie garden is!! That's so awesome! One day when I have my own house (hopefully in Boulder! I'm a CO native) I'll be able to make a veggie garden like that. I've never heard of the coconut fibers but that is so neat! I'm excited to see how everything grows :)

Ashley--> Thanks, Alex! Woohoo Colorado!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex @ Raw Recovery
I'm going to have to reference this this summer when I start my own, can't wait. Thanks!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @KatieDid
Exciting! I cannot wait to plant my garden, but due to the weather here I am still about 3 or more weeks away from being able to do so.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey
Sounds like you found some great products. Are you planning to buy organic veggies? I wish I could garden but I live in a condo beside a highway so it is just too dirty outside to eat anything I grow. One day I hope to live somewhere with a garden!

Ashley--> I bought organic, non-GMO seeds. I think one of the packs is not organic, but still from the same company and non-GMO. Seeds are much cheaper than I expected.
Ahh! You always amaze me!!!! I hope the gardening goes well. It looks great so far (even without visible plants!).

Ashley--> You are too sweet!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
What a great start to a garden. It is going to be a great haul when everything starts growing.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie
Looks great...I can't wait until we have the space for one!!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizAshlee
I am a garden junkie and have never heard of that coconut fiber before! That is awesome! Going to check it out now :) Are you planting your carrots using the square foot method ? Have a wonderful day, good luck planting! I don't think you are too late into the season by the way. And for some of those veggies you are planting, you can even do a second crop later in the season.

Ashley--> Yes, we are using that method! I held off on the "warm season" veggies but can't wait to get them started.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Hi! from our personal experience with square foot gardening (which is so awesome) veggies that grow down into the soil, like carrots and beets, don't do too well. Maybe not enough soil for roots, etc? Everything else does beautifully - cucumber has been our greatest success these past years ususing this method. Truthfully, I've tasted nothing like them. ever.

Ashley--> Thanks so much for the tip! I skipped the carrot planting. I'm more concerned with planting TONS of greens because we eat so many. I eat carrots daily, but they're much cheaper overall. I may try planting them in a deeper container or planning a little better next year. :) I'm super excited to plant pickling cucumbers to make my homemade pickles!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJS
I am so excited for your garden, can't wait to see more pictures of actual plants growing!!

Ashley--> I can't wait either.
aww that looks fantastic!! good luck with the gardening! :) I'm anxious to get mine started, but it's still just a tad too early here in Ontario to get going. I'll be planting in a couple of weeks.
Sooo exciting!!! It's looking incredible so far!!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCait's Plate
good luck! I had my first garden last year and it was an absolute blast. I knew nothing about gardening, and not everything grew, but the things that did grow were amazing. Beware planting zucchini; they're delicious and prolific, but totally take over the garden bed. Our one plant crowded out some kale, lettuce and 2 cucumber plants. We did harvest more than 50 zucchinis over the course of the summer though, so maybe it was a fair trade :)

Ashley--> Thanks, Beth! I have been warned about the zucchini and am on the fence if I'm going to plant any or not. :)
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
"I really know nothing about gardening!"
HaHa Ashley! You and Chris already did the hard part. That's an incredible raised bed - you can't go wrong with your setup. I love the technical aspects too. Not that you need any tips, but they say the most common mistake for new gardeners is over watering. I've been guilty of that sin more than once. A good soak every 2 or 3 days right now will force the roots to dig deep in search of h20 in between waterings. When summer heat hits (90s), I water daily. We live in Colorado too, and our leafy greens have been doing great outside with our early spring weather. I've been harvesting individual branches of kale the last few mornings which my wife loads into her smoothies. Fresh as it gets. And so fun and rewarding! Thanks for the Cocogro suggestion. Looks like great stuff. Btw...did you start seeds indoors in rooting cubes? Or are you dropping your seeds directly into the raised bed? Just curious, as I am fairly new to gardening as well.

Ashley--> Thanks for the encouragement, Mark! I'll be sure to go easy on the watering. Good to know you're in CO and have had luck. That's so fun about harvesting the kale leaves! Since we got a late start, we started the seeds directly outside. I think they'll be fine since it's been so warm this spring.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Crossing my fingers that your veggie garden produces gorgeous green produce, Ashley! Looks like you worked very hard on it!

Ashley--> Thanks so much!
Hi Ashley, I tried your cinnamon buckwheat bread bake and it's so awesome! Thanks for the recommendation! Can't wait to see what else you have this week.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
awesome! so jealous, I hope when I finally get settled at my new home, that I can get Gary to build me a garden ;)
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpure2raw twins
I was actually wondering recently why you didn't have a garden, when you eat so many veggies! I just started my first "grown up" garden this season as well. I think next year I'll refer back to this post for tips - the soil here turns out to be more like clay.
Good luck with your veggies!

Ashley--> Oh believe me, I know! We finally bought a house last year and had a little more time to plan the garden. I know we could have started in large pots, etc. but it just never happened. I wanted to build a raised box and it's a bit of an up front investment that we were finally able to make. We're so excited to see what happens!
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichal
I've been following your blog for awhile 'creeper style' aka without comment... but I've come out of the woodwork to say that I'm so very excited to watch your gardening experience! I'm in a condo and have very little gardening space... and even less sun exposure. Especially looking forward to the kale from-seed-to-stalk transition. Best if luck!

Ashley--> Thank you for saying hello!! I'm so glad you're excited about the garden. I will keep it well documented. If things grow, that is.
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
Sure looks like you know a lot about gardening, I think your seeds will be convinced anyway!

Ashley--> I'm glad it looks that way!! :)
May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiki
Yay gardens! I'm so happy you guys are getting one started this year!
May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
This is so exciting! I'm a little jealous since I'm still an apartment-dweller. One day!
Can't wait to see what pops up!
May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHolly W
Love this whole garden post and am now wishing I would have waited an extra few weeks before I did my planning/buying/planting so that I could use some of these tips! I sadly still have to plant in large pots, no ability to create a raised box since we are renting -- but it is my first growing season as well. I am actually new to Colorado (Denver) - 1 month today exactly - and having some space to grow fruits and veggies (even in pots) was a must! I hope you do a few more posts throughout the summer to say what worked - would be super helpful for a newbie like me to reference!

Ashley--> Good luck with your potted garden too! I'll definitely be keeping people posted!
May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia
We're planting in Fort Collins too, we always wait until at least May 15th, because that's the average last frost date, and a lot of sprouts are too tender still for the cooler nights. You definitely showcased some products I'd never heard of before, can't wait to hear how everything works out

Ashley--> Kristen, that's so good to know! Thanks for the tips. We'll see what happens!
May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
Nice job, overall! You guys have done a great job and will undoubtedly enjoy the fruit of your labors for years to come.

Regarding Agrichar: Be very cautious when the marketing material includes staements like: "The process is very efficient, generating more energy than it consumes..." This statement is beyond misleading. It is wrong in every sense and should send up a red flag when evaluating other statements on the web site.
May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFreeBeer
Hi Ashley! I work for Bath Garden Center and I stumbled onto your blog while I was checking keywords for Agricharge and Fort Collins. Keep posting about your experience with Agricharge, I'm excited to see how it works for you!
June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarly
Great job! It's definitely something I will do very soon. For your weeds you can use the most organic herbicide I know: Rinse and boil 1Kg of skin-on potatoes, keep the water and the peels, eat the rest. Pour the water where you want to get rid of weeds. Use the peels for compost, mulch and fertilizer (very rich in phytonutrients) or Google for the other uses, they are a lot!
April 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniele

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