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Friday Favorite: New Garden Areas

January 2nd, 2015

There’s something exciting about new garden areas, even if they are only an extension of another garden area. For the past two years I’ve been mulling over my plan for the main garden back behind the garage. As I work I look at the surrounding areas, the lay of the land, the trees, etc. I plan out where access roads/paths will be, where hedges will be planted and where drainage ditches will need dug. All of these plans lay in the future, a few years down the line, but that doesn’t mean that I can start preparing. The garden in the back needs expanded quite a bit to make way for perennial borders, fences, and hedges. The pigs have helped greatly in tilling up the sod to make way for these new gardens. Now that they are finished with their work I set to work laying down cardboard with a this layer of compost.
new garden area
In the spring they will be over seeded with various cover crops that will be mowed down for a weed smothering mulch. It’s a slow process, this garden will take more than a decade to become what I see in my mind. The slow, steady process of reaching that goal is fulfilling, and it helps me learn to be patient. There is such new promise in a new garden bed, one that has only grown sod. The possibilities are endless and that’s what I’m loving right now. I just need to remind myself that it’s a slow process, because admittedly it can be disheartening at times when you left behind a place that was just reaching it’s full potential and are starting all over again. I have to relish the newness and the possibilities!

Do you have plans to expand your gardens this coming year? 

Here We Grow Again

April 22nd, 2014

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week expanding the little potager behind the house.
back potager
back potager (1)
Last fall I laid down cardboard around the permitter and topped it with compost. I’m working on smothering ridding the garden of it’s couch grass infestation. One of the ways to do that is to keep the grass mown short around the garden. The problem is, two sides of the garden are difficult to mow because they are so steep.
potager expansion 1
potager expansion 2
I’m planning on digging the soil back a bit and building a rock wall to level the garden and keep the soil in place. It’s a BIG task, but I’m up for the challenge. Before all this can be completed I’m trying to keep the majority of the couch grass that’s in this location. In the are that the grass was smothered, I’m digging up buckets and buckets of rhizomes. In the area that is still in sod, I’m turning it over and the chickens are scratching it up exposing the roots.
expanding the potager 1
As a result I’m adding roughly 400 more square feet of gardening space. Most of this will be take up with rock walls and hedges. One of the reasons for expansion is to plant a few low windbreak hedges to protect the plants within the garden.
expanding the potager 2
In the next few weeks I’m hoping to get Mr Chiots in there with his tractor to dig down for the base of the rock walls. I may have a strong back, but that’s not something I want to do with my shovel.

Any garden expansion happening outside your window?

Much Mulch

August 6th, 2013

A few weeks ago, Mr Chiots stopped and talked to the local tree service guys about dropping off their wood chips at Chiot’s Run. They started dropping off HUGE loads a couple days later. This is coming in very handy in our effort to expand the main garden behind the garage.
Mulching the Main Garden 1
We’ve been using all these wood chips to add a thick layer of mulch to smother the grass that surrounded the garden. We’re also using it to cover half of the garden that was planted in a cover crop. With this layer of mulch, the garden has doubled in size from what it was when we arrived.
Mulching the Main Garden 2
Since this is mulched wood and leaves, it’s smart to wear a respirator because it’s decomposing very quickly. Mold and dust roll off the stuff in clouds when we’re moving it.
Mulching the Main Garden 4
The nice thing is, this will decompose slowly while helping to improve the soil underneath. Most likely, this garden area will lay fallow next year, perhaps another layer of mulch and minerals will be added. I don’t want to do too much to this area until I have the final garden plan laid out. There will be hedges and brick walkways, and hopefully a greenhouse and maybe even a small pond.
Mulching the Main Garden 3
This is the easy way to expand a garden, but it does take patience. That’s not a big deal though, I have a lot of patience. Mulch is one of the most valuable things you can provide for your garden.

Do you use mulch in your garden? What’s your favorite type?

Liberating the Lawn

April 30th, 2010

Last year I dug up a section on one side of the front lawn. I desperately need some full-sun garden space and I finally decided that I’ll grow a few vegetables in the front yard. After all I think a tomato plant can be just as beautiful as any other ornamental plant. Last spring I spent a few hours each day for a few weeks digging up the many sapplings that grew in half of it and the sod that grew in the other half.

Last summer I grew a cover crop of crimson clover in this new garden area to amend the soil (which is really bad, lots of clay). It was both beautiful and beneficial, the bees loved it (as did the deer when they found it).

This spring we worked up the soil and were pleasantly surprised by the great job one crop of crimson clover did for the structure of the soil. I planted onions in one section and the other will be filled with tomatoes, basil and peppers when the weather warms enough. I have now gained about 120-140 sq ft of full sun garden space. My tomatoes and onions should do wonderfully this year in the new sunny are of the garden. This fall I plan on using a cover crop of winter rye in this area of the garden to further improve the soil.

I have another area about 5 ft wide and about 20 ft long covered with a tarp to kill the grass so I can liberate even more lawn into edible and beneficial garden space. Each year the lawn gets smaller and the gardens get bigger.

Have you expanded your garden space recently to accommodate more edible plants?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.