Check out my photo album for snow pictures from Christmas morning. Hazel was so cute because she wouldn't go walk in the snow, much less go potty there, so she stayed in the iris mint bed the whole time.
I spent this morning reading up on the forums and elsewhere online about rototillers and cultivaters. If we use one at all we will just rent one. I am currently thinking that we are going to do raised beds for the vegetable garden, doing a seperate bed for each type (one for all the tomatoes, one for cucumbers, etc) The beds will only be raised about 4-6 inches above the surrounding ground, but we are going to double dig each one, working in compost and soil amendments as we go to break up the compacted clay where the veggie beds are going to be. it is going to be a lot of work, but that is what I enjoy most about gardening. hard physical labor does my soul good.
Now for a 2010 progress report, beginning with the compost pile and hole I mentioned in my previous blog and promised pictures of:
This is what we were working with:
and this is our new, hopefully improved hole method:
The hole in the foreground is not complete yet, but since the one that is currently covered with the mesh lid is full, we will need the fresh hole pretty soon. The pile in the background is all the leaves and grass we have gathered up from the yard so far that we use to balance out the compost mixture.
Now for some before and afters. here is the iris and mint bed before and after:
I had some problems with the dog digging up the replanted irises, but they are doing wonderfully despite her.
This next before and after was a real eye opener of how much progress we have made in the yard.
I will be glad when the grass is green again and when the flower beds are cultivated and have things planted in them. we are going to be transplanting the boxwoods to the property line, but we'll talk more about that later.
The Iris row is one of the main places where I did not achieve my expectations. We haven't even touched it yet, and all those poor irises need some TLC bad.
I want to put a river rock border around the whole row on both sides and around the dogwood at the end. To the left of the iris row is where the vegetable garden will be, and to the right is towards the house. The row runs north to south, with the tree at the southern end, to kindof put things in perspective. This row of Irises has been here since Randy's grandparents lived in this house and they haven't flowered in years. I would really lofe to revive the beautiful gardens his grandmother tended on this land, in hopes to keep that part of her and memories of her alive. I never got to meet her, but I have a great respect and admiration for the woman who helped raise the man I will be spending the rest of my life with. She did a darn good job.
Now on to the raised beds that we have already worked on:
The raised bed with dirt in it (dirt from the first compost hole) is going to be planted with gladiator alliums that I am getting on clearance from dutch bulbs.com and a variety of marigolds. I used bricks to make a barrier between the soil and the pole to reduce rot or anything like that. I will be adding some compost to each of the raised beds in the spring to bring the soil level even with the rock border. The raised bed around the tree hasn't been filled yet, but it will eventually be planted with fox's grape (Fritllaria assyriaca), Blue Danube stokesia, Astilbe Colorflash, a variety of foxgloves, and old fashioned bleeding hearts. Again, I used bricks and in this case some plastic edging material to make a protective border between the tree and the soil. I would eventually like to have raised beds like this around each of the larger trees in the yard, with similar shade gardens in each one.
The two crapemyrtles below will hopefully eventually have raised beds around their bases to make them easier to mow around, and I really just love raised beds and river rock borders. These two bushes are located on either end of the house.
I will probably just plant annuals and stick in some irises in the beds around each of the crapemyrtles. Is it crape or crepe?
We will also be doing flower borders around each of the storage sheds in the back yard.
The white shed needs a lot of repair but it is still a good shed. just full of junk and in need of a new floor, doors, and the steps need fixed up. Both sheds face west, so the right sides will be great for plants that want full sun and I am thinking of putting vegetables on the south or right wall of each one so I can use the walls to support trellises and use the entire structure as a windbreak.
I am using a similar concept on the south wall of the house:
The sunflower garden will be going in a flower bed agaist this wall between the air conditioner on the left and the dryer vent on the bottom right. I am putting sunflowers in the back and marigolds in front of them. We dont use the dryer very much in the summer so I dont think the vent being there should bother the plants very much if at all.
I dont have any before pictures of the bird bath bed, but here it is:
I have been putting the dirt from the new compost hole into this bed to cover the grass and I am going to till the whole bed up in the spring. in this bed I will be planting asiatic lilies (Nove Cento and Jacqueline varieties) as well as some annuals. You can see where the power pole bed is respect to the bird bath bed. Across the street you can see one of the neighbors yards with a small pond and trees in a neat line along the street. They were so kind to us when we moved in and were trying to mow our 2' tall grass with a reel mower: they mowed the whole yard for us for free in about 20 minutes. Bless their hearts, that saved us days of work. I think they think we are nuts, though, to mow close to 2 acreas with a motorless mower. We're just stubbron like that. and it only takes about two hours to maintain it. Excellent exercise and its near impossible to break that reel mower: dont have to worry about gettign it to start, running our of gas, replacing spark plugs or anything.
Now I am going to go over projects that are works in progress or that we hope to start soon:
This is the corner we want to put the Beckett 65 gallon pond kit with water fall we would like to get from Home Depot. The boxwood bushes wont be there and rather than burrying the pond form in the ground, we are going to have it sit on the ground and be surrounded by rocks so it will be more visible. We are also going to put a little path in front of it through the flower bed to the water spigot on the side of the house. The boxwoods will be transplated to the north property line, which is in the following pictures:
The metal post with the yeloowish tie on it marks our proterty line, and it lines up with the electric hub by the road that is visibile in the second picture. Along this property line we plan to plant the trees we get from the arbor day foundation, the five boxwood bushes, and a variety of blue berry bushes.
After I finish digging the second compost hole I am going to start removing dirt from a big pile in the back yard:
This big pile of dirt and trash is behind the barbeque pit and it is a major eye sore factor, as well as being right where I plant to have the melon and pumpkin patches. I am going to salvage all the dirt I can from it while removing the trash that is in it. the backstory of this pile is when the people who lived before us were rennovating the yard, they just leveled it off and pushed it all into this one big pile. Somethere there is a pear tree in this pile that Randy and I lived off when we were experiencing an exceptionally tight week the first time we lived here four years ago. It makes me sad that the tree is gone. This pile was covered in smooth sumac saplings, which is very invasive around here, and it had a fence post sticking out of it, but we took care of that yesterday.
The BBQ Pit and shed is a big work in progress.
The room with the red wagons in it used to be a storage shed for Randy's grandpas tinkering, bits and pieces of which can still be found, rusted and hidden in the grass and dirt. We will be using it to house the firewood for barbequing as well as gardening tools. some of the things we will be changing are we will be hanging the swing, taking down all of the wals but the back wall, and taking down the gate. I cant have too much stuff planted around the cooking pit because the heat would be bad for it, but it would still be nice to have it fixed up so we can use and enjoy it. Behind the bbq shed will be the pumpkin and melon patches and to the left of it is where the beggie beds will be. to the right is the south property line and the side pasture.
This concludes my 2010 progress report, lol. There is so much to do ahead of us for 2011, but I feel so blessed to just have the opportunity to do so much.
For those who might be interested in seed sharing or swapping, following is a list of all the seeds I plan to purchase from burpee for the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. I am trying a ton of heirloom varieties this year so we can try saving seeds.
Beans; Kentucky Blue Pole, Scarlet Runner, and Purple King
Cantalope: Hales Best Jumbo (heirloom)
Carrots: Kaleidoscope Mix
Beet; Bulls blood (heirloom)
Corn: Golden Bantam (heirloom)
Cucumbers: Straight Eight (heirloom) and Lemon (heirloom)
Eggplant; black beauty (heirloom)
Gourd; Orn Loofa
Melon; Super Dew Hybrid
Leek; dawn Giant
Lettuce: black seeded simpson (heirloom) and four Seasons
Peas; Sugar snap
peppers: Hot false alarm jalapeno hybrid and sweet carnival mix (organic)
Pumpkins: connecticut Field (heirloom) Small sugar (heirloom) and mini harvest blend
Radish; french breakfast
Spinach; Bloomsdale long standing (heirloom)
Squash: summer gadzukes Zucchini Hybrid and Summer Early Prolific Straightneck
Tomatoes: Amish Paste (organic/heirloom), Gardener's delight (heirloom), yellow pear (heirloom), big rainbow (heirloom) and brandywine pink (heirloom)
the herbs I will be starting from seed include: basil, catnip, roman and german chamomile, cilantro, mammoth and fernleaf dill, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet leaf stevia, and creeping and common thyme.
I am putting together a shopping cart on burpee seeds: I will be getting all my vegetables, herbs, and flowers from them this year and starting everythng from seed. Hopefully I will have enough surface area in the sun room to start everything.
Recently I have been working on a new compost system; I had been working with a few piles; one of just plant material and one that we were constantly contributing food scraps, plant material, and other compostables to. The dog wouldn't stay out of the food scrap pile long enough for much to happen, so for the past few months it has been neglected and, well, the wonderful thing about compost is it happens regardless of what you do, so it has been rotting nicely on the bottom of the pile, but it has turned into a major eye sore because of the poor construction of metal railroad spikes and a broken door *we were seriously scrounging for things to keep the dog out of it*. Our new compost system is a 2'x2'x5' hole that we cover with a rectangular mesh fence attached to a wooden frame that allows air and moisture to travel freely but keeps the beloved hound out of it. I moved the entire first food scrap pile into the hole, and am digging a second hole to start contributing food scaps and plant material to so the first one can have time to decompose the rest of the way before spring. This new method is working well: all i have to do is open the covering like a big deep freezer lid and turning the completely filled hole is still relatively easy, and the dog hasn't been able to get into it. Probably the biggest bonus has been that I am moving the removed dirt to the raised flower beds, so now we shouldn't need to buy dirt at all.
The three flower beds in the front yard are completely edged in river stones, and they are mulched with a thick layer of leaves to try to prevent any new weeds and grass from growing. We will till the leaves under in the spring to help break up the clay soil. Now we just need more stones for the sunflower bed, the raised beds around the crapemyrtles, the beds around the sheds, and the iris row.
Plans are in the works for a 65 gallon above ground pond in the front flower bed next to the front porch. Its about $150 for the preformed kit from Home Depot and I think it might be a nice first step into the world of water gardening. We dont relaly want anything too big, and it fits in the flower bed nice from what we have measured. We are still brain storming on how to go about doing the back patio in flagstone.
We will be donating to the arbor day foundation and they are advertising that for each donation they will send 10 free trees, among other things. The neighbor has been cutting down trees on their property and we hate to see such old, beautiful trees go, so if we really do get the ten trees for our donation, we will be planting them along our property line between our house and theirs. We used to not be able to tell anyone lived there because thje forest was so thick even when the trees lost their leaves, but now we can see their house clearly and it really takes away from the living in the middle of nowhere feeling.
Things we need for the garden: new garden gloves, a wheelbarrow, a rototiller, a large garbage can, a much longer hose with a rack to keep thigns tidy, and irrigation pipe for each of the flower beds.
Pictures of the new compost system and the progress we have made with the yard coming soon!