One of my goals this spring was to build, fill and grow plants in two raised beds in my back yard. We built the boxes several weekends ago, per instructions on The Pioneer Woman. My husband and I spent most of two days building them, with "help" from our 4-year-old. Thankfully, my 6-month-old cooperated by taking some good naps so that we could get the job done.
Because I've never done a real garden before, I wanted to give myself a shot at success by bringing in good soil. Gotta love this southern clay/rocky soil we've got here, but it would need a lot of amending to be fertile for vegetables. We built two boxes, one 6 inches deep for herbs and small vegetables, and the other 12 inches deep, for growing potatoes, carrots and anything else that needs deep roots.
A local landscaping company delivered 5 yards (which my geology genius husband confirms weighs over 5 tons) of "potting soil" (already has sand and compost mixed in - and side note- the first time I typed the previous phrase I wrote "pottying soil". nice.) and they dumped it on our driveway. Unfortunately for us, the garden is in the back and all that dirt had to be carted one wheelbarrow-full at a time. To date, all the dirt has successfully been transported to the back (thanks in part to an industrious young teenage boy looking to earn some money), though about half the dirt is still in mounds and needs to be worked into some landscaping areas.
I am champing at the bit to get my seedlings planted, but it would be prudent to wait another week or so, just to the weather is warm enough. I did plant some potatoes already, but have yet to see any sprouts. Its sort of silly how excited I get to see if anything has popped up. Below is a photo of a couple of squash plants I started from seed a few weeks ago. Yes, I know the pot is broken. I have my suspicions as to how it got that way. :)
In addition to the vegetable garden, I am planning a small succulent garden underneath a willow tree, incorporating it into a little rock wall that separates the back yard from the rest of our little property. Like the vegetable boxes, I lined this area with newspaper and filled it in with dirt. The newspaper was about 5-10 layers thick, which should will be enough to block weeds coming up. My little helper was ready to dump dirt before the area was fully prepped.
A third gardening goal this spring and summer is an easy one... I want to grow a flower garden, not only to soften up all the brick of our house and retaining walls, but also for cutting and bringing fresh zinnias and sunflowers into the house. Overlooking the driveway from a retaining wall, there was a pathetic little juniper garden, which I ripped out this week (photo below), and now I plan on working some compost and "pottying" soil into the clay and then scattering a mix of seeds out there. Simple enough, and I hope it will be low maintenance, but high impact.
My last idea for the yard is to plant some sort of border plants along the front of the house and along the rock wall in the back yard. I don't have anything particular in mind, but I am sure I will fall in love with many options when I hit the nursery next week.
Certainly gardening like this requires some forethought. I have never built a garden from scratch, though I have inherited two gorgeous perennial gardens in two different homes we previously owned. I am much more invested in planning and planting now more than before. In the past, the gardens were burdens to upkeep, rather than something to be enjoyed. Now I feel like the interest, time and passion is there... I almost feel like I'm working my homestead (inside and out), as opposed to solely focusing on the inside.
What do you think? Do you enjoy gardening? Do you enjoy someone else gardening? What are you planting this year? Any suggestions for perennial border plants?