Busy Week

I’ve been going for it on several different fronts in the garden over the last week. Work starts up again next week, so my days of happily toiling in the garden will be reduced to weekends and mornings pretty soon, and there were a few things I wanted to get done before that happens.

The first was to build a new trellis for my two hardy kiwi plants. All of the books I read raved about how delicious hardy kiwis are. If you aren’t familiar, they are small, grape-sized kiwis that have smooth skin that you don’t need to peel off. They are super sweet when ripe and I’m looking forward to eating fistfuls of them in the near future. I’d never heard of hardy kiwis, but after reading about them I put them on my list of things to add to the garden, and I was happy to see one of our local home centers selling small plants last fall.

Aside from reading how delicious hardy kiwis are, I also learned that they are fast and prolific growers that require a trellis or some other means of supporting them. In haste, and before I had starting with actually building things our of wood, I bought a bunch of bamboo and screwed it all together. After one Ishikawa winter, the thing was leaning and already starting to fall apart before ever being touched by a hardy kiwi tendril, so it was clear I needed something more substantial.

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So I built and equally simple but far sturdier trellis the other day, and I’m patting myself on the back.

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I’m really tired of driftwood and I didn’t feel like weeding, so the next thing to do was start prepping the vegetable beds. I added several different kinds of animal shit and churned it all together with my old-fashioned rake/hoe thing. One of the most satisfying sights to me a freshly fluffed and smoothed out veggie bed.

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The other biggish job I had was to put some plants in the ground. I planted 2 raspberries, 2 currants, a peach tree, a mikan tree, and two different types of grape, and some Jerusalem artichokes. Fingers crossed that everything lives!

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When that was done I had no choice but to find homes for all the driftwood I had scattered around. I’m declaring myself done with driftwood, by the way. It looks cool, but it seems to rot pretty fast and it’s a pain in the ass to fit it all together. That was a fun challenge at first, but when my current batch rots away I’ll find something else to contain my beds.

We’re still getting temps close to freezing here at night, but the days are warming and lots of things are getting ready to pop. Anticipation abounds…

Building Raised Beds

Year two of my forest garden is getting underway with the temps starting to warm. My planting of perennial plants and trees will be a lot less ambitious than it was last year, when I was starting with a blank slate. I’ve bought a few trees and shrubs to plant this year, which will bring me pretty close to capacity in terms of how many larger plants I can actually fit into my limited space.

This weekend I built two raised beds for growing vegetables in the narrow strip of land on the west side of my house. This area of the yard has been a bit of a black whole so far — I’ve had a hard time figuring out exactly what to do with it. The main problem is that the water lines to the house are buried there, along with some drainage pipes, so I’ve been hesitant to plant anything with deep roots that might mess with the pipes.

I put a few rough beds there when we first moved in, but basically it was just overrun with dandelions. Last year when I was scattering all kinds of seeds willy nilly around my yard, I made the mistake of including dandelions since they are good nutrient accumulators. They are also a major pain in the ass once they start proliferating. But there was a silver lining.

Here’s what the site looked like before I set to weeding. Quite a mess.

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Once I had the weeds out, I moved all of the good soil onto a tarp and levelled the land. Then I started constructing the raised beds.

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I decided to make one 3 foot X 3 foot bed and another 3 foot X 10 foot bed. The only cutting I had to do was dicing up a few 2 X 4’s, so I kept it traditional with the saw. If I build anything more elaborate it’ll be time to get some power tools though.

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I got the beds in position and levelled them as much as I was willing to.

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I had a pile of semi-decent soil sitting in the yard which I used to fill the bottom half of the beds, then added a layer of uprooted dandelions thinking they will add some nutrients. I filled the rest of the beds with the soil from the tarp.

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Fifteen bags of gravel later, I’m happy with the results. It’s not particularly beautiful, but very utilitarian, low maintenance, and a lot better than it was before.

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I should be back again soon since I have a pile of driftwood sitting in the yard that needs distributing and the aforementioned other projects, which I’ll explain later. Bring the spring!