Creatrixsblood's Weblog


Project: Pretty up the Place

This year Chris and I have been experimenting with Square Foot Gardening. At first, this idea was, frankly, not on my agenda. However, since caring for a bed built in this fashion as well as three other beds built with more traditional means, I’m a believer.

When I moved here, the only flowers on the place that I was aware of were two clumps of irises which had been untended for an estimated 10 years. A clump of purple irises resided by the machine shed, and were mowed weekly, and a clump of yellow irises were allowed to grow and bloom by the garage. The yellow irises grew at the end of what used to be a flower bed, but had since been mostly overrun by weeds.

I dedicated my first summer here to digging out the weeds there and poking fun at Chris for his bed of nettles and tall grasses. I had learned the hard way (when I attempted to fix the overrun flower beds at my aunt’s house) that one really has to dig a good two feet into the ground to properly remove nettle roots. Given only a spade as a tool, and working alone, it took quite a long time. I only managed to dig up and replant half the space with iris bulbs thinned from the existing clump. Occasionally, Chris dubiously regarded my work and said he hoped it would look nice.

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They’re only bendy because it’s really windy here

Lo and behold, come this spring, it did. He was impressed with the thick and attractive foliage from the irises, and apparently was reassured about my gardening skills. Together, we dug up the rest of the bed of nettles and tall grasses and I planted it full of irises. The yellow ones I separated last year bloomed for us. There are three colors in the bed, ( a friend traded me purple and yellow for some pale white-blue blooms) so hopefully they will cross-pollinate next year and give us some new colors. Sadly, some tulips and hydrangea planted in the same bed seem to have not appreciated the sun and wind.

Once I’d finished planting those, I decided to put in a bed of flowers on the side of the house. We dug it up and made it happen, discovering a rose bush in the same location that had presumably been mowed for 10 years. In the bed, I planted some daylilies which I had discovered wilting in the shade under over-grown bushes

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Now on an improvement kick, Chris and I examined the front yard where there used to be “scraggly” bushes next to the house. With dreams of a vegetable garden in the location, we started digging…and discovered lots and lots of rocks. We discussed some options, when I suggested raised beds and planting more flowers there instead.

Chris didn’t give up on the vegetable garden idea, and did some research on growing produce in raised beds before settling on Square Foot Gardening. He ordered the book, which followed him everywhere for quite a while. He modified the design slightly to make the space only two feet wide so it could sit against the house. He bought wood, weed mats, and special dirt. Occasionally, I dubiously regarded his work and said I hoped it would look nice.

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This is the first half of our square-foot garden space.

Lo and behold, later in the year it did My favorite part is the complete lack of weeds! The worst I deal with is the occasional mushroom. We eagerly tried planting a few things out of season which are looking sorta..crispy, but most of our plants really like the space. I planted some flowers in the space including lavender, marigolds, hollyhocks and scabiosa. I finally read the book. Although Mel Bartholomew is a bit of self-promoter, I cannot fault his method. It takes many of the same principals from growing plants indoors and applies them to outdoor gardening. We now have a plan for our tiny little garden next spring. It will be 48 square feet packed full of more than 21 different kinds of plant.

We have few tweaks to make to the space. We’re looking for containers suitable for composting. Nets for vining plants are being delivered theoretically sometime next week. We also plan to move the hollyhocks to barrels beforethe end of season… which shouldn’t much of a problem with this method. In fact, I’ve already rearranged a few of the plants. Since the addition of three new beds (to cover half the length of the house) I’ve relocated bush 4 bush tomatoes and a “Jack Be Little” pumpkin plant.

In addition to the Square Foot Garden and flower bed we also shored a side walk and put in a strawberry border, and planted a red raspberry bush.  Shortly after planting the red raspberries, we discovered wild black raspberries had colonized a section of land behind the tractor building.  I haven’t even mentioned any of my indoor plants! Project: Pretty up the Place is in effect!

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The butterflies love our yard now!

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