Thursday, June 18, 2009

Planning the Raised Bed Garden

A couple of years ago it became clear to me that there had to be a raised bed garden in my future. For one thing, I hate weeding between the rows. Secondly, I have been using the intensive planting/square foot method anyway. It really doesn't make much sense to spend all the time to rototill a huge area (have to take the fence down to do this because we use the tractor), then locate the planting squares in the middle of the wide open area, put the fence back, then spend the entire summer weeding wide open walkways. Weeding around the plants takes very little time at all.

And the final compelling argument is that it will be so much easier to warm and prepare the soil early in the spring. I will no longer have to wait for the garden to dry out. The raised beds will drain so much quicker.

So, I have casually mentioned all these reasons to my husband over the past couple of years. The other day, he asked what I planned to do with huge pile of composted horse manure he has been mowing around. He decided it is done cooking, and ought to be spread. Of course, this year the big garden has gone back to lawn. So, I told him I was saving it for my raised beds. With an exasperated sigh he told me to count how many Rail Road ties and 4x4s I would need to edge and fence the permanent garden and promised to work it into our summer plans. Jackpot!

So, the plan is to edge a 24x32 area with RR ties, permanently fence it with the woven "no climb" fence, build a decent gate and install raised beds with gravel or cedar mulch walkways. With good stabalization mat under that, there will be very very little path weeding. Hooray! Mission accomplished.

So, on this cool rainy day, I have been paging through scads of internet pictures. This is my model garden.

I really plan on a very basic layout with just 6 4x12 beds. But, I can't help checking out some of the fancier options I've seen. I think the idea of a rim you can sit on is brilliant, but these finials are pretty facy.

The ever popular pergola

Of course, I have every intention of incorporating the area immediately outside the fence in my purposes. The chicken coop will be nearby, as well as my garden shed. It will be a great location for a compost bin so I can throw trimmings right over the fence. I've never seen one with a lid...

Leah has built a stylish litle raised bed garden...

Here are a couple of other neat sites I found in my wanderings...

And Mom (I know you're reading this) check out this guy.... That's our idea!!! Great example to follow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spring Progress

My perennial edibles bed is doing well, and the strawberries are ripening. They are pictured below on the left under the wire cage which keeps out both the rabbits and the deer.
Horseradish down the middle, and asparagus and rhubarb down the right side.

I even put some onions in window boxes, and the back left corner has a hill of summer squash.

All my tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are doing well, and have been moved to the south side of the chicken coop where they get 12 hours a day of sun.

We have had a couple of days of hot and humid with occasional showers, and each day I can see growth and improvement.

And here is my perennial nursery. The plants in the back are Windflower and Black Eyed Susan that were 'weeded" out of the perennial bed. The 6 pots in the front contain seeds for biannual artichokes for next year. And the two flats underneath are reserved for the Siberian Irises I ordered with no plan in mind.

My bearded irises continue to impress me. I have a couple of new colors blooming this week, but these two toned blues are still my favorite.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Without a Plan in Mind...

I know you've done it too, bought a plant with NO idea whatsoever WHERE you are going to put it. I just ordered some Siberian Irises. All my Irises are the big Bearded Irises. At my husband's last house I had planted some blue Caesar's Brother Siberian Irises and he loved them.
He happened to casually mention them again.... and since I can't find them at any of the local greenhouses, I ordered some bare root bulbs. Then, I ordered a batch of mixed Siberian Irises for myself. And I have NO idea where I'm going to put them. But that's OK, they can live in pots along with the Windflower and Black Eyed Susan volunteers that I dug up and couldn't kill. Really it's not a bad plan. I've saved a couple of flats of the big one gallon pots my local greenhouse uses, so now I have a nice tidy collection of the next generation of perennials potted up and ready for our future flower beds.
Siberian Irises are beautiful, and while they don't have the huge impressive blooms of the Bearded Iris, they also don't droop all over the place and require supports. Since I had such a profusion of iris blooms this spring, I quickly ran out of stem supports. The Siberian Irises have longer narrower leaves, and look grassy or rush-like. They love damp soil (which I don't have) but are so determined they will thrive just about anywhere and require frequent dividing if you expect them to stay in their designated place. The best situation for them is their own bed on the edge of the lawn where they can provide a natural looking background. With that in mind.... I still have NO idea where I'm going to put them.