Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow Volume 2: June 2011

It's been a cold spring here.   Changes in the jet stream have made it a cold, rainy and windy on and off since March, making it hard to get out and work in the garden consistently.

And this is a big garden year for us.  After 3 years of 3 temporary, stone-bordered beds, we've finally decided to spend a bit of time and money and make the garden space more permanent - more beds, a fence to keep out the unwelcome locals, such as deer and rabbits, and to keep in the newest members of our family, arriving in late July - 5 chickens (5 more will come next spring).

We've finally settled in with our new budget, and so some of the money that we had saved for projects - money we were afraid to spend until now - is getting spent.  Garden updates, a chicken coop and the associated residents, and finally, work on the exterior of the house, which is in dire need of insulation and new windows, a new front door, and various other expensive maintenance.  

I didn't start as many seeds as I had hoped to, time got away from me, as usual.  But I do have a respectable number of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, bok choy, spinach and other greens.  We 
got a few pumpkins into the ground, as well as some cukes, and we might try a few late melons too.

Along with the new garden comes more long-term plantings as well.  Two dwarf apricot trees, two golden muscat grape vines to train over the arbor entrance to the garden and some more raspberries to line the garden fence are heeled into temporary locations while we finish the garden construction.  I also got my act together this spring and ordered garlic to plant in the fall, which always sells out before it crosses my mind in the summertime.

So this year should be a good year for garden produce, and in a few years we should see the literal fruits of our labors from the long term plantings - including some apples finally from our dwarf apple trees, and perhaps a cherry or two from the North Star cherry tree we planted 2 summers ago.  We still want to fit in cranberries, bayberries, blueberries and cornelian cherries, but those can wait a little longer.  There's only so much we can do in a year.

It's funny, when we moved in, we never imagined that 4 years in we would still be working on setting up a permanent garden, or have so many house projects still in-flight or not even started yet.   Sometimes I look around us and think, "We're going to be at this forever".  

We knew when we bought the house it would be a project house, and that some things would take years (not in small part because house projects are paid for in cash in MoneyPenny world).  But some of the smaller things have hung on far longer than we hoped for - pre-empted by other projects in some cases, pre-empted by lack of time in others.  

But first, the garden. Have you ever seen 15 yards of dirt in your driveway?  It looks something, like this:

Although actually, this was after a yard or two was used.  Affectionally titled 'Mount Dirt', it has taken up a good chunk of the driveway for the better part of the last 8 weeks.

The garden will eventually be 8 beds of varying sizes surrounded by a retaining wall, a fence, and an arbor with golden muscat grapes growing over it, flanked by apricot trees.   So how do you build such a dream garden? (please note, when I say 'you', I mean your incredibly tolerant and accomodating husband who hasn't yet run away to a nice clean white condo where no one talks of wanting livestock).

Well, so first, you tear up a good chunk of the front yard.   
Then you buy 15 yards of dirt to level it, that is, if your yard slopes down a hill as ours does:

Then you get $500.00 worth of lumber and start building beds.  3 of the long beds are done (16' x 3').   You make the beds, drag them up the yard in the hot sun, and line them with weed-suppressing cloth.

Then you fill them with dirt.   Approximately 35 wheelbarrows of dirt fill one.   Patiently ignore wife who is fretting over how 'leggy' her seedlings are getting and she needs to plant them today, now, after you've spent hours of backbreaking labor filling aforementioned freaking beds with dirt.

Once beds are finished, then call in garden expertise to plant:

And then:

Well, okay, now we repeat it 5 more times, and then start on the fence, but you get the idea.


Eric B. Schultz said...

Whoa--this is impressive!

Dvlish said...

Just popping on to say "hi". Hope you are well! LO is darling and getting so big! The house looks great:)