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Monday, May 25, 2009

First Project - The Overgrown Garden Beds

Well, when I first moved here over 20 years ago, the backyard had a small field on the left side and horribly overgrown woods for the rest. The field was just a sand and gravel silt plain that led to the swamp across the street.

The overgrown part of the back yard was vines, thorny locust trees about 6-12' tall, and poison ivy, with a thick growth of 30' tulip poplars, maples, river birches, and a few huge old oak and sweet gum trees.

I spent 3 years hacking down the undergrowth and trying to kill the thorny locust trees. Those thorny locust trees and just plain evil! The thorns are vicious and they would just regrow a couple of feet every year after being cut, but with multiple trunks. Like the Hydra. I read once that early farmers would cut them down and use the trunks as fenceposts and they would start growing again! I believe it.

Trying to garden at ground level in the field was impossible. Tomatoes, peppers, cukes, etc don't like sand and gravel. So after a couple of years, I built 5 raised framed beds of 8' x 3', a single 8' x 2' bed, two 3'x3' and a trellissed bed 30" x 2'.

The picture has an error. The bottom bed is 8x3, not 8x2. Sorry, but too much trouble to correct the image. That bottom one, BTW, is an asparagus bed, so nothing ever changes there.

I started gardening the framed beds and worked at improving the non-gardening field soil. I collected bags of leaves each Fall from my neighbors (who were leaving them out as trash) and tilled the leaves into the soil. At least I can grow grass there now.

But over the past 5 years, I let upper half of the framed beds (from the square ones and above) get overgrown with honeysuckle and Virginia Creeper. Well they are shaded by a new shed, so they weren't very useful. I am going to disassemble and move them to the bottom! Another corner of the back yard where I used to keep firewoodhas underbrush taking it over again I moved chunks of tree trunksin there and then couldn't mow the area. The center of the back yard has a lumpy ridge about 6' high, 60' long, and 30' wide that has been reclaimed by the vines. Too uneven to mow.

SO! It is time to reclaim my back yard. I am starting with the vines in the framed garden beds. I'll start with the right square box. The vines are atrocious to pull out, but I have to do that just so that I can find the roots and dig them out. I want to plant herbs in that box. As they don't like really fertile soil but DO like good drainage, I will be adding a couple of bags of sand (the soil level is low anyway).

"Before" and "After" pictures tomorrow (weather permitting). I am planting oregano, chives, sage, tarragon, thyme, parsley, basil and cilantro.

1 comment:

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