Musings of First 6 Months in the Garden

Overall Experience and Accomplishments

What an incredible first six months in the new garden.  We moved onto the property June of last year.  We were able to get in some late summer plantings and fall crop that I planted in a 20 x 10’ plot until the garden fence was built.  That area expanded to a 105’ x 45’ plot after getting the fence built.

This has definitely been a year of building many things that fortunately will be one time investments of time and money.  Some of those investments were building out the following:

  • Garden Fence – A 8’ fence with three gate entrees that surround the 105’ x 45’ garden area. Two gates are 4 foot gates to allow wheel barrows to enter the front and end of the garden.  One gate on the side that is a double gate that provides an 8 foot opening in case I need to get large equipment into the garden.  Here is a before and after pictures (the one on the left with the cones is laying out the area; the top right is plowed area and initial small garden; and then garden after the fence was built).


  • Compost Bins – A sheltered 6 bin compost system that have 5’ x 5’ bins with a 10’ x 5’ shed at the end. Everything is built except the shed at the end.IMG_4177
  • Plant Beds and Walkways – 52 rows that are 18” X 30” and topped with 2-3 inches of compost including a central 5’ woodchip pathway through the center of the garden with 18” pathways between the rows. This required to move over 250 wheelbarrows each of compost and woodchips.



  • Drip Irrigation – Throughout the garden for each of the 52 rows there are 1 to 2 drip lines for each of the 30 inch rows. Each line has its own shutoff valve and there are 4 separate half inch leads to provide 4 zones that are needed to support the many feet of drip irrigation.

Wow, just reflecting on this makes me tired.  This does not include all the other tasks like seedling trays, planting seed in the garden and all the tasks that follow up until harvesting.

In addition to building out the garden, we had a centerpiece purchased for the garden.  This centerpiece is a hightop cement picnic table that has a look of wood along with an umbrella for well needed shade during the heat of the day.

Overall, very pleased with this year’s progress.  It has been a year of building things for the first time and investments that I will reap years of reward with vegetables grown in the upcoming years.

What Went Well

Shishito Peppers
This is one days harvest to red and green shishito peppers. Probably more than 300 peppers.

Peppers went especially well this year.  I think it is partially due to peppers seem to thrive in harsher conditions.  In particular, the Georgia Flame hot peppers and the flavorful Shishito peppers were bountiful (see the links for my seed sources).  For example, just last week I harvested over 200 of the Shishito peppers in one harvest and I have probably picked close to 400 before that.  I definitely over planted these, but I know these will be dependable vegetable as I transition into a Market or CSA Gardener.

As a part of expanding the garden, I got to experience the value of rich organic soil.  We had a small area that had darker (and apparently richer) soil compared to the rest of the garden.  The cucumber and asparagus showed big differences in health and size based on the quality of the soil.  This was not an experiment that I planned, but I was able to observe the difference higher quality soil had on the yield and health of the crop.  Below are a few pictures to illustrate this.  This has further inspired me to continue to focus on building soil through composting and letting the soil mature through following a no dig approach.  My goal is to have high quality organic compost incorporated in several inches of soil throughout the garden in 2 to 3 years of building soil through the no dig approach.

How rich compost has made a difference

What Were the Challenges

The key challenge this year was feeling that I was always one step behind with planting in the garden with all the other setup tasks that I had to intermingle with the planting.  I say it was a challenge and it was, but it was a fun challenge that energized me to get out to the garden frequently this year.  I looked forward (but at times anxiously) to get out in the garden to get past the next hurdle.

In terms of challenges with growing vegetables, I had a few challenges that are worth noting.  First was the massive infestation of Mexican bean beetles.  These suckers just would not let up after they entered the garden.  They got so bad that they would kill bush bean plants before they could get out the second set of true leaves.  Quite frustrating.

I also had some unsolved mysteries this year.  I had disappearing ears of corn and seedlings that appeared one day and were gone the next.  I am guessing that the ears of corn were victim to raccoons robbing in the cover of the night sky.  With the missing seedlings, I am guessing birds.  I cannot prove this, but tried my best with a trail camera in the garden.  I hope to eventually catch this on film.

What Would I do Different

For the first full year in the garden, I think things have gone better than expected.  You can always do better based on what you have learned.  That is the beauty of gardening.  That is, you can always learn and experience something new each year.

I do think I have a solution for both issues mentioned above (stolen corn and missing seedlings).  The issue with the corn might be solved by putting a simple perimeter fence made of deer netting to further protect the corn.  I have a second crop of corn growing now with some finished ears that have not been touched (yet).  For the disappearing seedlings, I will be putting down spun lace row cover over the seedling beds.  I also am growing seedlings in trays to get past the fragile seedling stage before putting into the garden.

One lesson, that I learned the hard way, was not getting my compost and wood chips dumped into the center area of the garden before building the 8 foot perimeter fence.  Big mistake that resulted in quite a bit of extra labor.  Also, I learned that I should have dump trucks enter my property when the ground is not soft.  If the ground is soft, have them dump from the street and have a bobcat move it to where it needs to be.

In summary, it has been quite the year for Iron Mountain Organics.  A year of building many foundational elements of the garden and I look forward to the extra time we will have to focus more time on the plantings.  I also expect that I will be putting more energy and time into creating a better environment that will invite beneficial insects into the garden.  This is the next big hurdle for me.  I will be sure to share with you all what I learn.

The Story Behind the Logo

The Backstory

I have recently been through the process of building a logo for Iron Mountain Organics.  I have been a part of the logo creating process three times at the company (ThreeWill) I founded with my brother Danny.  He was the driving force to figure out what would work best since his passion is marketing.  I was definitely involved, but it was Danny who really was in charge (I was more along for the ride and voiced my opinions along the way).

The logo for Iron Mountain Organics was the first logo where I was the primary driver.

BTW – This whole logo design was made possible by my son Alex who pulled together a GoFundMe that allowed me to hire a design professional.

It is an interesting process to determine a logo for your enterprise/mission.  Before I even had my first meeting with the designer, I went through my own process to determine a name for the Market Garden.  I could write a blog just on that, but for now I will just share the note I shared with my family when thinking about what to call the Market Garden

February 16, 2018

Any ideas gang on the name for the business that will sell organic produce in the future? I might go through USDA organic certification or just use organic methods. The current ideas are:
– Iron Mountain Farms [street name and we know a blacksmith that could built things like signs out of iron]
– Liberty Hill Farms [street name]
– New Beginnings Organics [theme of life always has new beginnings, starting over from cancer, starting new business (ThreeWill), starting new farm/garden]
– New Life Organics [healthy vegetables can provide a new and better life for folks]
– Painted Dogwood [was something people have commented on before with our house – there was a dogwood that died and was painted blue in our yard. Seems like an eclectic name.]
– Blue Tree Farms [will need to plant blue spruces that mom likes]
– Blue Spruce Farms [same as above]
– Split Rail Farms [since we want to have a split rail around the house]
– Iron Gate Farms [since we are on Iron Mountain and we could get an iron gate built]
– Orange Gate Farms [since we are Clemson grads, we could paint the gate orange]
– Gray Barn Farms [we liked the ring of this and could build a gray barn]
– Lavender hill Gardens [since we have lavender]

Also you can use Farms, Organics or Gardens interchangeably with the above sample names. Like “Liberty Hill Organics”

This is just a starting point. Anything come to the top for you? Do you have any ideas for a name?

Note that “Iron Mountain Organics” was not even in the list.  It was my son Austin that suggested this variant.

Inputs to the Design Process

What made “Iron Mountain Organics” stick was the combination of the following:

Another major factor is this is the name of the road we are on, so that is the key reason why Iron and Mountain are in the name.  Be sure to pick a house on a cool street name if you want that part of the name ;).

Having the name “Iron Mountain Organics” going into the design process, I had to come up with colors, fonts, and sample logos to build my own custom logo.  I was provided a questionnaire to tease out what was needed to start the design process.  Things like what are logos of similar businesses and samples of logos I might see as good starting points.  One of those questions was “What six words best describe the feeling you want your logo to convey?”  I had answered the following:

  • Local/Neighborly
  • Fresh and in season
  • Sustainable
  • Working in cooperation with natural systems – no dig, natural lifecycles for pest control
  • Rustic (we have an old split rail fence around the property)
  • Simplicity

We went through three versions to get there, but it was amazing how good the logos were from the beginning.  I liked all the logos provided, so it was a tough process of elimination to determine which logo was the key direction for the design.

I picked one that was simple and reminded me of brands I respect (like Patagonia).  To show you how close my designer got in the first round and how that evolved, here is the progression of the design

Version 1


Version 2


And the final logo


As you can see, it was a great first version and there were small tweaks that helped nail this final version.  We also decided at the end to create an additional smaller logo that can be used for some branding and especially for social media profiles that require a square or round shape.  That logo became the following logo that was nailed in the first try.


The Rest of the Story

As I had discussions with my wife Linda and brother Danny, the major guiding principals in the final design were: simplicity, having an element of being rustic and getting back to nature.  I think the designs meet those criteria.

You might be asking “why did you pick Know Thy Food as the tagline?”  Well it was the brainchild of Linda.  She brought this up as we were having tea from the porch.  She came up with tagline because she knows how important it is for us to know about the food we put into our bodies (where it comes from and the quality of the food) along with the importance of being connected to nature. She is brilliant and I love the tagline she has created.  It really sets the tone of what Iron Mountain Organics is all about.

I know a logo does not have to last forever, but I am so happy where we landed with this logo.  I think it really speaks to the movement of getting back to nature and being in wonder of what God has gifted us with food and the abundance of variety God has provided.

I hope you found this post helpful.  I searched for posts like this as I was looking to create a name and brand for Iron Mountain Organics.  I hope this is handy for the next entrepreneur that want to create their version of an Iron Mountain Organics logo.

Let me know what you think in the comments.  I would like to know what others have done to determine their logo and timeline.

The Journey Begins

My dream is becoming a reality.  A garden that I can pour my heart into that will yield a harvest that will be good for the body and soul.  I look forward to providing healthy food for my neighbors and for the friendships I will build through this endeavor.

I am just at the beginning of the journey and excited to share what I learn and accomplish as figure out how to be successful in the garden.

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.
– George Bernard Shaw