Thursday, May 02, 2013

This Year's Garden Project

Because I have a little more time these days to garden one of the criteria for selecting a house was that it should have plenty of room to play outside. I don't have an acreage that would give me enough space for a natural woodland garden or a formal arrangement of garden rooms, but I do have a quarter acre with a variety of exposures to play with. Last year I started a hydrangea and hosta bed in a shady corner which  should be beautiful in a few years with almost no  expenditure on my part because I was able to start it with offshoots and divisions. I have a shady bed that is nearly full and needs only light maintenance - weeding, some compost, and cleanup in the spring before the bulbs come up. A sunny corner is full of mature shrubs blooming from spring through fall. I added a shrub bed in the part shade front of my lot to block road noise and provide privacy in the fullness of time.

This year I added a few holly seedlings (thanks Wanda!) to the front bed. They will not provide privacy for several years, but when they are grown they will be a fuss free privacy hedge winter and summer. I want a shrub border on one side of my yard. Last year I was given two small blueberry bushes and two small hydrangeas to start me out (Thanks, Alison!) and this year I moved a rose of sharon that was being overwhelmed by my humongous forsythia, and took a sprout from that giant as well. I was able to get a couple of dogwood seedlings and additional hydrangea sprouts from my late mother-in-law's garden and a couple of offshoots of something of whose species I am not altogether sure - peegee hydrangea? doublefile viburnum?  After moving a pieris japonica across the yard to a more suitable location I have the start of a lovely border - in about ten years, when everything is grown. Gardening is a long game, especially when you must violate the first rule of gardening: Have Lots of Money!.

I did not bother to dig out a bed for the new shrubs; I will just get them mulched over the summer one at a time. As small as they are there is not great hurry, except to identify them to avoid running over them with the mower. I have access to as much free mulch as I want from the dump, the only provision being I have to take my own containers and fill them myself.

This year's big project is a combination veggie garden and sunny flower garden. For my birthday I got 36 big cinder blocks and four yards of loam to build my garden. The blocks will form a raised bed and short wall to keep erosion under control on the sloped area which is my most reliably sunny spot, all the more sunny because several trees have been removed on the east side of my property.  To get this project started I also cadged a few used cinder blocks from a friend (thanks Wanda!) and some newspapers from the in-laws to mulch over the grass inside the raised bed. After I moved all the cinder blocks into place I made a mulch path around the veggie bed for access. Then I dug out several inches of the sandy soil surrounding the raised bed for my flowers and replaced it with loam. I schlepped the sandy and rocky soil to the driveway to build up low spots that become little pools in rainy weather.  I also burned the rest of my brush pile and moved a shrub to a happier location before I started digging around in this area.

This weekend we will start planting in the raised bed - lettuces  and kale first, plus some of the more hardy flowers and herbs that will live in the surrounding cinder blocks. Later we will put in bush beans, pole beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. That seems ambitious enough for me. The veggie portion is meant to be Shana's project for the summer, with the flowers being my domain. Given the amount of weeding the veggies will need I suspect she will be happy to share. I have a few flowers "parked" around the yard waiting for a sunny bed to get my part started, and a friend who had perennials to divide and share will expand my selection so that need only pick up a few to fill it out this season. It look bit puny now, but considering that this area was completely bare when we bough the house I have high hopes. I am thankful that my job at A Major Retailer has provided me with the strength and endurance for this project! I have been doing all the heavy lifting myself without major discomfort. I have tired feet, tired hands, tired back, tired knees, tired shoulders and elbows, but nothing is injured. It has been strenuous. I am taking today off from digging and lifting. Tomorrow I will get the rest of the loam that I need for this project moved and move a shrub from my front bed to a happier location beside the shed  with a nice big loamy hole where it will get better sun and therefore reach its full potential. The birdbath in this area has a leak, so I also need some better duct tape! Roxy has been happy to supervise but so far has not done any of the work.


lacochran's evil twin said...

Who needs a gym membership when you have a strenuous job? :)

I envy you your future tomatoes. Enjoy!

zippiknits...sometimes said...

Gardening is the best exercise, I mean building the garden from ground up. Congratulations, and to Roxie, you can dig later my grrrl. hehehe