Monday, March 19, 2012

The overall plan and signs of real spring

I've finally been able to sketch out an overall layout of the garden. It's wonky, it's in photoshop (which I have a love/hate relationship with), but it's done. Considering my San Francisco backyard contained just one little 4'x6' bed, this is quite a shift. The largest bed is 15' in length to give an idea of scale.

Fruit trees surround the raised bed garden area but there are more fruit trees around the rest of the property. This is only about 1/4th the area of the yard shown. It looks all neat and tidy on the plan but I don't do something soon, the weeds were going to over and I won't be able to find these raised beds. Here's the last of the beds I haven't tackled yet and the weeds surrounding.

I called in my gardener for a quote to till the weeds and lay down landscape fabric and then mulch or gravel over top. I usually won't allow the gardener in my bed area, that's my domain, but this was becoming a crisis. If I were here full time, I could tackle it myself. I might have to still if that quote comes in high. I dread that, sigh.

In the meantime, I had some nice little surprises over the weekend. The first fig leaves are popping out.

And the tulips under the apple trees bloomed!

They are as beautiful as the previous owner, Kendra, told me they would be. I had to cut them so we could enjoy them this week back in the city. And see all that green behind those tulips ... weeds, weeds, weeds. sigh.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Planning the garden

It's time for some organized planning. I've struggled with how to keep my thoughts in order with so many beds to lay out using the square foot gardening method. I decided on a plan to have two large gridded sheets. It naturally worked out that one sheet covers most of the early spring plantings and the other the later spring plantings. I can use the see-through vellum to overlay succession plantings for the next go round. I tried to keep track of everything on the computer but I just couldn't coordinate well enough between the actual planting into the keyboard.

Finishing the planting of bed J (lower right on the sheet above) was the focus this weekend. I had half of the bed completed but was afraid to tackle the rest because I knew what was lurking underneath.

The bed from hell. These are roots of a certain pesky weed which I can't remember the name. And these are likely those weeds that just multiply when you break the root in two. Sigh. I did my best but at least I know I won't be planting any carrots here! I first sowed one more row of shelling peas just in case 132 plants aren't enough. Seriously, they say 170 for a family of four. We'll just see!

Then onto the weedy bed. It will be a guess just how much sun this bed gets in the full summer. I think a fair amount. There's a cedar tree just south of it that blocks out most of the sun in the winter.

I hope to save this leftover chard in the foreground. I transplanted two spinach plants over and planted two more squares. The bed will also have lettuces, radishes, kale, beets and flowers. And a surprise awaited me in the compost pile. A rapidly growing rhubarb plant which I did my best to salvage for another bed that already had the rhubarb.

I suppose in my haste of weeding beds last fall I chucked it before I knew what it was. We'll see if it survives although I'm sure any plant would be happier growing in pure compost.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March in the garden

We have been coming up Saturday mornings lately. I try to already have everything I need to make dinner so the only shopping I have to do is in the garden. This week I was able to harvest my usual pile of chard and the first spinach and lettuce leaves to make a side salad.

The weather has been so mild these past few weeks we've been taking afternoon bike rides throughout Sonoma. A few blocks away from the cottage we have this view to enjoy. There's a wonderful spot nearby to set out our picnic blanket which we plan to do a lot of this year.

Back in the garden, things are turning green, especially the weeds in between the beds. I'm debating what to do about the surrounding paths.

On the one hand, if you follow the concepts around permaculture, this is a vital part of the garden, providing shelter for good bugs (but also bad). The downside is the paths are uneven, you have to hand trim the paths because of the irrigation lines, and it just doesn't look very tidy to me.

I'm looking into mulching the paths, not sure if I'll go forward with it. In the meantime, I'm slowly removing an old straw bale bed to make way for a seating area with a fire pit between the beds.

In the midst of all these thoughts, though, the plants are growing well. Radishes sprouted last week, the snap peas have their first flowers and my flowers seeds (nigella) are growing fast.