Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New garden beds

Black nursery pots aren't exactly a brilliant design statement, but they're what I have to work with at the moment. I'm hoping the plants will fill in and cascade enough to draw attention away from the less-than-lovely pots underneath them.

It's divine gardening weather right now, at least as far as I'm concerned. It's clear, with low humidity, about 68 degrees F, with a light breeze - PERFECT. I grabbed some garden time while the kids did their math on the swing set. (Yes, really, they did - one in the "tower" with worksheets on a clipboard, one under the "tower" with a workbook.)

Since moving to the new house, I've been creating garden beds from scratch. I haven't had any soil brought in; I've just been outlining beds by digging in the turf, then smothering the grass in the middle with a layer of heavy cardboard under a couple inches of shredded pine bark mulch. In some cases (esp. the veggie beds) I turned over the turf, let it sit and sprout a little through the fall, turned it again in the fall, let it lie fallow all winter, then turned it again this spring and mixed in some composted horse manure before turning them again. That's hard work; smothering is much easier, and works fine as long as you don't want to plant a bazillion little annuals in that spot your first year. It takes a year or so for the cardboard to decompose. I can't stand landscape fabric - it's evil, lol. I WANT things to self-sow. I WANT the mulch to decompose into the soil and enrich it. I WANT plants to spread.

Today's project was putting cardboard and mulch around my little blueberry plants. Last year I dug a long, narrow bed along the back of the yard, just shy of the drainage swale. I didn't get around to doing the cardboard/mulch thing early this year like I'd hoped, and a lot of grass resprouted in the dug-over area. A LOT. It's ugly! The blueberries came a few weeks ago, so I had to plant them, with a little ring of mulch around each one so I wouldn't lose it in the grass. Today I made a start on doing the whole bed. I redug the edges, and arranged the cardboard so that each plant was surrounded out to the edge of the bed before I started mulching. I ran out of cardboard, so I need to find some more, and I'll need a lot more mulch. I'm hoping to score some boxes from some friends, but there's always begging at the local grocery store. I miss the Giant grocery stores we had in Binghamton - they had a "box corral" at the front of every store where anyone could take as many boxes as they wanted, free, every day. I practically LIVED there while packing to move. I don't know how many dozens of boxes I got from them. If I go down to Binghamton next week, I'll probably stop at a Giant and stock up, if I don't get any boxes locally.