Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Potager: The Big Reveal!

I'm so happy to finally share pics of the garden! However, we're not quite finished (always the gardener's lament)! We are still researching what material to use for the "floor."  I'm so glad we did not go with decomposed granite, as it surely would have washed away in the heavy rains we had early in the season. I need a larger stone with more staying power, and will post when we decide and lay it down. Anyhow, here is how it looks today. 

This is the walk from our existing deck to the garden. We used the bluestone from the old patio to make this temporary walkway. We will probably just mulch the sides until we finalize the plans for the new patio. 

There are 11 beds, 8 of them raised. My husband came up with the design which includes trim on top for a more finished look. They are 12 inches tall and the length and width vary. 

We are growing tomatoes, basil, eggplant, herbs, beans, tomatillos, carrots, and beans. 

I was gifted raspberry canes, rhubarb, sage, mint, and Egyptian walking onions by gardening friends (thanks again!). 

Seating, compost, an arbor, and a water source were important to the design. We made the pathways wide enough to accommodate our yard cart, about 2.5 feet wide. 

These photos were taken in early evening after a rain shower, so things usually look a bit sunnier! We are thinking about taking off a large oak limb to allow for more sun, but the garden is producing! I thought we would be overwhelmed with tomatoes by now, but we planted late (I was afraid to plant anything before the fence was installed in mid-June - deer) and the weather hasn't been ideal this year. We're getting lots of kale, lettuce, beans, spinach, and herbs so far, and more kale, chard and squash from the front yard where veggies are incorporated into the perennial beds where I get more sun. 

So tell me, how is your garden doing?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The New Potager - Preparing the Space

The first order of business was to remove the existing shrubs, a million and a half daylilies, about 975 square feet of grass, and an entire bluestone patio. Whew. I'm exhausted just thinking about those long hours of labor. Luckily, the hubby was able to use some vacation days to knock most of this out, along with a couple of lingering inside projects. 

We considered renting a sod cutter for the grass removal, but found that it came up really easily with a square-edged shovel. Getting those daylilies out was much more difficult. Each job was made a little easier due to things still being a bit dormant. 

Here's a pic of the patio-from-hell turned instant sandbox once we removed the bluestone pavers on top. The patio was such a mess, with pavers that had sunk, creating a very uneven and hazardous surface. Once we moved the (extremely heavy) pavers, we found out why. Whoever built the patio laid the pavers atop 8 inches of sand, not compacted gravel, which would have stabilized the pavers better. However, all of that sand worked to our advantage, because we spread it over the area where we had removed the grass for the garden. It will form a base for the decomposed granite we plan to use between the cedar raised beds. Disposing of all of that material would have been difficult and expensive, so we were happy to reuse it. 

We were also pleased to find some treasure back in the corner of the lot. 

We unearthed a set of clay bricks that are in perfect condition, and will be using them to create curved beds. All of the straight lines of the raised beds can get a little boring, so I try to include some curves in my potager designs, even if it means a lumber is not an option. A change of materials adds some interest, and these clay bricks keep us wondering what the original owner used them for. 

We removed the sand from inside these beds to allow for the free movement of earthworms. 

Joe is building 12" tall cedar raised beds with 1x4s on top for a finished look. He is using two stacked 1x6s for the sides and 2x2s at the corners. 

A white picket fence will surround the garden, with a gate at either end and an arbor at the gate that can be seen from the front of the house. We planned to build the fence ourselves, but we are running out of time before planting season, so we're leaving that to the professionals. 

All that's left is to finish the decorative tops to all of the beds, spread the granite, fill the beds, and plant! If our sore muscles can handle it. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The New Potager - Design Complete

I've completed the design of the new potager, and my husband is hard at work building the beds.

We are installing a 4 foot picket fence around the garden to keep the deer out. Nearly everyone I talk to about the fence thinks 4 feet is too short, but there are a few different factors that went into my decision to keep it short. I don't want to block my views of the forest with a tall fence, and a tall fence would look plain tacky so close to the house. From what I've read, deer don't like to jump into contained areas, and with all of the raised beds inside, they will not have a clear landing area. I just don't think they will attempt it. Also, the deer have stayed away from areas close to the house recently. Whether it's because the snow finally melted and they have access to food in the forest, or because we now have a dog, I'm not sure. 

In the next post, I'll share our progress. Until then, we have been enjoying the spring ephemerals that have been popping up in our yard and the forest. We didn't live here last spring, so each new plant that emerges is a nice surprise. Enjoy!