Monday, March 24, 2014

Bed Construction

I came home from a girls weekend to find a neat stack of cedar 2x6s cut to 4 foot lengths and a 2x2 sitting next to it, ready to be cut to 12 inch lengths for the bed corners. 

Construction was a a tad sketchy, simply due to the lack of a level spot in our backyard to work on. But we made it work, using the first completed box as a staging area for the second.

We moved them to the garden area last night, just as the sun was setting.

My project for tonight, in the 65 degree weather (!!) I hope to figure out their positions and get the boxes leveled so I can fill them and put some seeds in the ground.

You'll notice we propped up the fence. This post is completed rotted through and can't support itself. Another post behind the rhodie is leaning and also got some support.

I'm going to attempt to follow the square foot gardening guidelines for filling my beds: 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost. However, the guidelines suggest only 6 inch deep beds, so HALF of what these guys are.  I probably will only fill them 8-10 inches deep in order to keep costs down. I guess that if I want to expand in the future, I could always split one of the beds into two 4'x4'x6" beds for shallow rooted veggies, and keep the other one a full 12" bed for the deeper stuff.

My tomato seeds all sprouted over the weekend. The peppers should soon follow. Only one romaine seed is up; looks like it's time to toss those seeds. Maybe I'll scatter them over a couple of squares in the bed once they get filled as a test.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Beginning of Beds

It's beginning to feel like spring time in Seattle. I'm been furtively trying to get spring clean up done in the yard between rain showers.  Over a month ago we decided to tackle the english ivy growing up our doug firs out front and cut all of the stems near the ground and started pulling them off the trees.  Those plants are super resilient, because the leaves are just now starting to turn yellow and droop. Maybe once we stop getting an inch of rain per week they'll come off the trees easier.

I just finished my spring pruning. I started two weeks ago and got the blueberries, one of the roses, the hydrangea, and the forsythia.  Oops! The Master Gardner informed me I was supposed to wait until AFTER the flowering shrubs bloomed to prune.  Apparently I got over excited when I was cleaning up the side yard. But in my defense, the forsythia looked like it hadn't been pruned in years and years and really needed some of that dead wood cut out..... maybe.

I only got one of the roses the first time around due to the waning light, but last night I failed to finish pruning the big rose for the second time. I would say that this rose has been neglected, but it looks like someone tried to take care of it, but had no idea what they were doing. It's two stories tall!! Someone pruned it to grow straight up, and then tied the stalks to the house so they wouldn't fall over into the yard. There are several branches that are dead in the middle of the knot. I did what I could with my two foot step stool, but couldn't reach the top, oh, five feet of the rose.  Add rose pruning to the list of reasons why we need an 8 foot step ladder!

The seed starting has begun!! After getting the grow light set up in the shop room, I started three kinds of kale, broccoli, leeks, romaine lettuce, basil, lemon balm, and marigolds two weeks ago. All but the lettuce have spouted - Maybe the seeds were old? Just yesterday I started my tomatoes and peppers. I knew I needed to cut back this year, so I only started three sungolds (one for Sarah), two nova, one indigo rose, two purple calabash, two saucey, two jalapeno peppers, and two anaheim peppers. Is 10 tomatoes really cutting back? I'm conveniently not remembering how many I had last year.  I am sticking to my guns this year and plan to actually snip the second seed in my cells instead of separating and keeping the seedling growing.  That will definitely cut back on the amount of final tomato plants!

George Washington's birthday came and went and I still didn't have my peas in the ground.  My garden area is far from ready to plant, so I found an alternate home for this year's pea crop.  When we first moved in a planted this weed flower bed with strawberries, thyme, and winter savory.  I hope to get a jasmine or clematis or some nice smelling climbing flower to plant along the trellis, but for now it will get peas. Yay, peas!

I recently started on the garden.  I found that putting cardboard down over the lamium didn't really do anything to it. When I pulled up the cardboard there was still happy little green sprouts of lamium completely covering my future garden.  That means lots of back-breaking work with a hoe... or does it?

I started out near the edge of the grass and started working my way towards the fence. At about 5 feet out I found the edge of the landscape fabric I noticed last time I was working outside. After some muscle flexing, I discovered that there are two 3 foot strips of landscape fabric running along the fence, covered in a couple inches of soils and a bunch of weeds. We were able to pull up the outer strip before we lost the light. If the ground would dry out a bit, and I had a strong helper, I would quickly be able to pull the rest of the fabric and begin leveling out the area in preparation for installing raised beds.  I'm currently thinking I will start with two 4x4 beds and try my hand at square foot gardening. This first year will be quite the experiment to see what we can grow in the filtered sunlight.

When I realized I couldn't pull up the heavy fabric on my own last night, I switched to the back corner bed.  The bed itself doesn't seem to be in bad shape once the weeds got pulled.  However, there are blackberries coming at it from two sides.  I think that the corner of my neighbor's yard was once an attempt at a compost pile, but it never got hot enough to kill the weeds and now it's a blackberry haven.  The other option is that the corner diagonal from us is overgrown with blackberries and they've taken over the old compost heap. Or a combination of the two. Either way, it will be a constant battle to keep the blackberry suckers from taking over. I'm going to put rhubarb back there, and while the flavors go well together, keep those pokey bushes away from my edibles!!