In the garden

Things are happening with the garden this year.

The hydrangea and the irises that I left after removing the other flowers and shrubs (the spot was first a veggie garden, then a memorial garden, before we bought the place) are now gone — the irises tossed on the brush pile (I offered; only one local person wanted some) and the hydrangea laboriously moved to a spot near the back door.

That, and squaring up the plot to have nice straight lines and right angles, meant a significant increase of space.

And now that we know it’s a 24×31 plot, I’ve got a to-scale planting diagram — with the birch tree and the compost bins marked in their actual locations.

The garden has already escaped its budget, what with the seed order, fencing materials, and more fencing materials, but I still need more fencing materials. I’m short just about ten feet of chicken wire, and in some places it looks like I need some sort of stakes or anchors to hold the bottom edge snug against the ground so the bunnies can’t just squeeze under.

The first sprouts have appeared — peas by the backyard fence, and mixed salad greens in the garden itself. I’ve also planted half the beneficial insects flower mix and some carrots — hoping to get beets and cilantro in this week. Meanwhile, some of the starts will soon be ready to transplant and have been hardening off here and there.

So far the permanent mulch idea — with its promise of less backbreaking labor — is not so labor-less as I’d hoped. Maybe I don’t trust it enough, but it seems I still need to break up and rake up soft loose raised mounds for things like carrots and salad greens. Maybe I didn’t have enough mulch to start with, but there’s barely a half inch anywhere — the method is supposed to involve maintaining eight inches, which seems insane. I have maybe ten bales of straw to spread, and then as the season progresses there will be grass clippings. Even so, I don’t know if it’ll ever get to eight inches. It seemed to start at eight inches last year with that huge load of spoiled hay.

It sure does well at reducing weeds and watering, though.

I got a broadfork for my birthday. I love the idea of it, but I’m not sure it’s working very well. It lifts up great clumps — and reworking the same area doesn’t seem to break up those clumps much more. Is the ground still too damp?

Today I worked with a hoe and a rake instead — mostly because I was working on smaller beds, I suppose. The back corner bed for the beneficials mix was especially laborious, as it was turf just a week ago. When I dug the pea bed by the backyard fence, I just turned the sods upside-down, but there is a little grass still making its way back through, so for this bed I broke up the sods and tried to loosen as much dirt from the grass and roots as I could.

I only caught the new fence with the hoe once. It is a little bulgy there now… but not too bad.

I’m still not sure about bracing the corners. I don’t know what I could use for horizontal braces (posts are 6′ apart), especially already being over budget, and I don’t know if the diagonal wire braces would be effective without horizontals.

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