Friday, March 12, 2010

Garden beginnings

Last spring about this time, I was busily trying to build us a small kitchen garden out behind the house.

As the same of the blog indicates, we live on a hill-- a rather steep, rocky hill.  Ruth Wilson, the original lady of the house, was a prolific gardener, and we have a number of things to thank her for-- mature flowering shrubs, a giant sprawling dogwood in the center of the backyard, and several gorgeous lilacs, for example.  But my favorite isn't these... it's the fact that she had some low concrete walls installed so that there is a garden-able spot just off the back (kitchen) door.

Because her husband J.O. inscribed and dated it, I even know how long it's been there:  90 years.
J.O. Wilson 3-7-1920
Thanks, Ruth.

Last year, I marked off a 4x16 spot near the southern edge of the flat area and created our little garden.  Some copper plumbing pipes created a trellis.  A roll of wire fencing created the first of several compost and leaf bins, and some compost, vermiculite, and grass clippings amended the soil via mulch.
This is the third garden I've built.  Ironically, we've always moved after one season in each of my gardens... so I've never had the chance to monitor and adjust, to try something different in the same spot the next year.  This will be the first year for that!

I'm pleased with the site, with the earthworms that have showed up to reside in the garden, and with the cottagey look.  I love that I can access half the garden via a low retaining wall-- so easy to pick low lettuces and such from there!  (Accessing the other side is more difficult because of the trellis, but I can live with that.)
However, due to an abundance of rain and a lack of sun, I'm not really sure how great of a spot this is.  My tomatoes barely sputtered along last year, and other hot-weather veggies never really came into their own.  We're trying again this summer and seeing how it goes.  If the giant oaks nearby do shade the garden too much for a good veggie harvest, we'll take down the trellis and make it into an herb area, and create ourselves a veggie garden in a sunnier spot.  (That will require a retaining wall on a slope, though-- I'm really hoping that our current garden will produce this year.)

I do want to take a soil sample into our county extension service for an analysis, to see if there's anything I need to add.  I hear that our area's soil is almost always short of magnesium, for example.  Whatever it needs must be added this year, so that we can give the garden every chance to succeed here.

Here's to more sun, a little less rain, and a greater harvest this year!  (I'll post on this year's garden soon, but wanted to get these pictures from last year shared before I dive into recording the 2010 efforts.)

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