I’ve taken a break from writing this week to begin the task of putting in gardens in our yard. In a sense, we not only began to build utilitarian vegetable gardens but also the beginning of my very own kirimahu (ok, so I’m not an ANE King, and I haven’t conquered any foreign realms recently, but I have begun to set some things in order, so I think it is okay for me to begin to plan and plant my own “pleasure garden”). If this last sentence confused you (and you’ll also have to ignore the fact that apparently WordPress is removing the diacritics), then ignore it. If you are vaguely interested, then Doug Green’s forthcoming book “I Undertook Great Works”: The Ideology of Domestic Achievements in West Semitic Royal Inscriptions should be added to your reading list (and it has ALL the diacritics).
Now, on to an annotated photojournal of how we built several garden beds this week.
We started off with a semi-level area of the yard that gets good sunlight. I dug in a frame of cinder blocks that would be 3 ft by 10 ft. We chose cinder blocks so that we could reposition or enlarge the garden bed in the future with less difficulty.
Here is the completed frame. Eventually it will be painted (by the kids).
The soil in our yard is almost completely composed of highly compacted clay.
Here I’ve turned the soil. Before the topsoil is added, I will remove the sod and clay clomps.
It’s a small garden to start off with. Just 30 square feet. But we plan to maximize every bit of it. The holes in the cinder blocks will be filled with soil and will house small annuals, herbs, and trailing greens.
My favorite garden purchase: a pair of boots. Absolutely necessary for working in the muck.
We ordered three cubic yards of garden mix topsoil (has a blend of topsoil, sand, mulch, compost). After working with clay for days, this stuff is black gold.
We were expecting rain, so there was not a moment to lose. I was watching Ruby, so into the baby carrier she went so that I could continue to work in the garden.
Here I am shoveling the topsoil (which was dumped in the front yard) into containers to transport to the backyard garden area. The wheelbarrow was inoperable because its front tire had come completely off its rim. I’m shoveling into the yard waste bin which has wheels. Once I wheel a load to the garden, I topple it over, lift one end and dump out the topsoil.
Ruby cheers me on.
Do not be deceived by that wheelbarrow in the photo. This was taken before I tried to use it and realized it was not functional.
Still shoveling. I ended up moving every last cubic inch of that topsoil (a total of 139,968 cubic inches).
Maggie and Ethan helped by filling in the cinder block holes with topsoil.
On Saturday morning, Sarah and I went to the Durham Farmers Market and purchased the plants. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera along.
Here we are back at the garden bed. Maggie and Ethan are planting some flowering annuals and small spreading green plants into the holes.
Sarah helps the kids make sure the plants are put in properly.
After we lost our second tree on the property in a month, we had quite a few log cuttings around the place. I put some to good use by using them to hold in another bed on the side of the house. This will only be temporary since the wood will surely be a taste temptation to insects. Next year we’ll look to replace the wood with stones. But I like how it looks. This is a shady bed. I’ve put in a bleeding heart bush, some columbine, and a bit of coral bells. Still deciding on the rest of the inhabitants for this garden bed.
Ethan and Maggie fill the holes that Sarah has made for the sugar snap peas.
Here we are continuing to plant.
We’re putting in 4 varieties of tomatoes. Sarah’s favorite is a cherry-size called Sungold. They are a delicious yellow tomato.
Watering the new plants (and giving them a boost of fertilizer). In addition to the tomatoes, we’ve got 3 kinds of lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, a zucchini, broccoli and the sugar snaps.
Here’s the bleeding heart I put in.
This is the start of my kirimahu. We found a gorgeous jasmine at the Farmers Market and I placed it at our mailbox. I also put in some lavender and a few low growing plants for variety at the front. My favorite garden in the yard will be in the back woods. I have already acquired a beautiful little trillium (grown from seed… not taken from a natural area!) and some lilies of the valley.
Eventually, this will be rimmed with some stones.
Ethan asked me to take this picture of him… so his Aunt Hannah could see him.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this garden grows. We hope to add more beds next year. We also plan to buy produce at the local farms and the Farmers Market so that we can freeze or preserve some of the good foods grown around here.