Monday, May 27, 2013

Garden Upgrades

Nearing maintenance-mode on our garden, we now have the luxury of taking time for some upgrades. Here are just two.

First, since some of our beds are underlain by a field tile that is apparently broken/plugged up, we wanted to mound/raise those beds a bit so that during the wetness of spring, we could still plant early greens and such (their roots would presumably be enough above the wetness to allow them to thrive).

We are trying two methods: slight mounding and shallow raised bed.

Slight Mounding:

Since we were widening these beds a bit anyway, we thought we might simply dig around their perimeter and  pile the soil from that into the middle of the beds, thereby achieving widening and mounding during one process.

Here you can see the "before" nature of the bed - flat if not slightly concave:

Here you can see the slight mounding achieved as described above (plus a little compost on top):

Slight Mounding:

On out wettest beds we opted for shallow raised beds using fence posts that we got from a neighbor.

The shape of the posts dictates the outline of the bed: artsy - we like it!

We used some old rough-cut native hardwood boards for the ends of the beds:

We will evaluate these two methods and apply as needed to other beds over time.

Now for one of those upgrade projects that you really want but don't really look forward to doing...

The perimeter of our garden fence has presented an on-going weeding task that we wanted to eliminate so we decided to dig under the bottom board of the fence and back fill with stone achieving two things: 1) weeds won't as readily root in gravel as in soil and 2) if the do, they will be easier to pull. 

So, we got psyched up and got to work. Here you can see the result of the digging process - many, many full wheel barrels of excavated sod and a nice trench next to and beneath the bottom of the fence:

Yeah, probably 20 or 25 loads but now we have a huge stockpile of sod that will compost down for use later:

Yes, a corresponding number of loads of gravel were needed to backfill! The upside - we have a gravel pit near our house and they deliver 10+ tons for about 200 bucks. Everyone needs a huge pile of gravel around the mini farm! Here you can see the trench being filled with gravel:

Here you can see one whole side of the garden now lined with gravel. Now we have a first line of defense against weeds getting under the fence plus a clean mow-line.

We've come a long way from the early days of:

...evaluating our soils...

....laying out our garden...

...building our fence using "junk" lumber from piles strewn about the property by the previous inhabitants.

Next  upgrade: smothering the final small spot of lawn that still exists w/in our garden perimeter: it will be our pleasure!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Frost on May 24...Seriously?

 Here we are, protecting our garden plants from the second late frost of the season...on May 24!

Wish us luck (and good luck to you if you are in a similar boat)...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Two of our Favorite Things: Gardening and Nature

It's that time of year when most of our time is spent outdoors and we love it!  We are dedicating a large portion of our time right now to getting our garden planted.  Some of the beds need a fair bit of prepping so it's slow going, but will pay off later.  We planted the northeast corner of the garden in the standard 3 Sister's arrangement: corn, beans and squash.  It will be fun to see how these grow together.

After an evening of planting, we toured a garlic mustard infestation to assess how we will handle it and Steve discovered this super cute adult American toad burrowed into the soil, which is where they hang out during the day.  It's also adjacent to the wetland we created last summer.

We've heard the adults calling lately and were delighted to discover toad tadpoles in our wetland!

Many dragonfly exoskeletons are floating on the surface of the wetland so we know those guys overwintered and metamorphosed this spring.  There is so much wildlife using this small wetland after less than a year.  It really speaks to their ability to find new areas and capitalize on the more abundant habitat!

We also spotted this moth though I've not yet come up with the identification.

It's so super fun to take our daily or twice daily tours again and watch all the plants we've planted grow, the birds taking care of their babies in nests on our property and to make new discoveries each time we are out.  Love it!

Monday, May 6, 2013

So Far 2013 is a Great Gardening Season!

2011 was an unusually wet year. 2012 was an unusually dry year. We therefore surmise that 2013 will be "normal" and so far this has been the pattern, meaning that we have been able to plant pretty much on are a few pics:

Laying out plants:

Incorporating compost/planting:

Planted so far:







More peppers!:


Not pictured: cilantro, potatoes, lettuce, chard, spinach, a variety of herbs, get the idea - we love it all!