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Posts tagged ‘Design’

My Veggie Garden Evolution

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about how I think it’s mean/discouraging when someone criticizes someone else’s garden or garden style. It happens. I’m one of the folks that thinks that anyone can and should garden (see my quote in the side bar). Really. Just do what you can.

To give a little encouragement to those just starting a veggie garden, I’m going to post pictures showing how my garden has evolved over the years. I’ve been growing veggies since 2002 – so almost nine years.

You’ll notice that my first veggie garden was pretty ugly, weedy and wimpy!  I mulched the pathway but not the weedy beds and those trellises wouldn’t hold anything up.  I remember how proud I was of this garden – and still am.

2002 Veggie Garden Beaux Arts Cottage

I doubled the veggie garden the second year. I also added tomatoes and dahlias! Oh, and the neighbors started remodeling their house — now that’s UGLY! The crazy mess in the middle is my herb garden.

2003 Veggie Garden Beaux Arts Cottage

I couldn’t find a picture of the 2004 Veggie garden but remember it was crazy with two large rows of green beans.

I had a wimpy garden in 2005 with mostly squash since I just bought a house and creating the perennial gardens took up all my time.

In 2006 I cleaned up a sunny spot on the North side of my lot and made brand new trellises for my green beans. This was back when I used red plastic mulch under my tomatoes. Now I cut up black garbage bags.

2006 Veggie Garden Monroe House Spring

In the winter of 2007 we added raised beds – I love them. We still have them today. Look how nice the beds look in early summer.

2009 Veggie Garden Monroe House

This is what the garden looks like in late September. Yikes. I have plastic over the tomatoes to keep the rain off.

2009 Veggie Garden Monroe House Late Summer/Fall

Here’s what the garden looks like today. We are in the process of remodeling the backyard and adding a stone patio — but it sure looks ugly right now. I’m not worried. I know it’s going to look great!

2010 Veggie Garden & Backyard Remodel MESS

See. It takes awhile to get your garden started. When you do get it started it may look good on some days and look like a bomb went off on other days. At least I have a fence to hide behind.

Updated 3/23:

What I’ve learned

  1. Raised beds are better for weed control and don’t need to be fancy. The community garden in my neighborhood uses *free* pallets and cuts into sections for raised beds.
  2. Drip irrigation works great for watering. I got a timer for $30 at Costco and I have all my drip hoses hooked up for early morning watering (in summer). My garden waters itself. Plus a lot of plants don’t like to be watered from above.
  3. To remove grass I now put down newspaper/cardboard and cover with mulch (we use leaves in the fall).  This kills the grass and adds nutrients back to the soil.  This works WAY better than laying down a tarp.
  4. If not using raised beds, try using mulch like straw, bark and shavings to keep weeds away. I cut up black plastic garbage bags for tomatoes & peppers and place over the drip irrigation (even in the raised beds – it adds heat). I hear you can call your local arborist and they’ll sometimes give wood chips for free (they dump it anyway)!
  5. Add compost. Before I made my own, I purchased bags of cow manuer from our local hardware store. Some of you may even have a neighbor with some to spare.  I mix it with the soil to add nutrients & feed the plants.  Make sure you have more soil than manauer when mixing – adding too much can burn the roots.
  6. Grow only what you eat. I grew stuff I thought was cool but never ate. This takes up room you could be using to grow something you would eat.
  7. Plant your veggie garden in a FULL SUN spot. Part of my first garden was in shade. I had a hard time getting anything to grow in the shady spot – even lettuce.
  8. If you want to save money, buy seeds. Easy seeds to start outside are lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, cucumber, sunflowers  and squash. These are also fun to grow when getting started. 
  9. Have fun, experiment and don’t give up. Start small and expand until you get overwhelmed. I learned by reading books and experimenting.
  10. Have the right support for your veggies. You can create trellises out of scraps of wood, fencing, bed frames or you can build your own.  I created my two trellises (in 2006) out of 2×2’s and nylon twine. I cut the 2×2 with a saw and wrapped/criss-crossed the twine to connect the wood together.

Inspiration Needed for Front Pathway

We were chatting about how we were going to remove my front pathway and before I knew it my pathway was being broken up into tiny pieces. It was way easier to remove than we thought. Unfortunately, I haven’t decided what I’m going to put there INSTEAD!

I have my two inspiration pictures (at bottom) that both have large pieces of stone leading through a garden. I guess I figure when I get to the stone yard I’ll pick a stone that speaks to me.

I appreciate any ideas, tips or encouragement you can provide.

Here’s the space we need to add a new pathway:

Pathway leading from the street to the front door. Check out all the river rock they used as a base!

A different view of the entire front yard

Here are my inspiration pictures:

Red-ish Stone

Black Stone

I don’t have sourced for these pictures because I clipped them both from magazines awhile ago. Let me know if you know the source.

Front Shade Garden Project

Sunday was such a beautiful day we spent it working on our new shade garden. We really started the project in the Fall by setting newspaper and leaf mulch on the grass to kill it – and it worked perfectly.  All I had left to do was till the soil (with a shovel) and remove any roots.  It already had plenty of worms and organic matter from the leaves and  newspaper.

Added slate under the Apple Arbor & tilled the soil under the Saucer Magnolia

I started the planting by moving shade tolerant plants from other spots in the garden. I added a Camellia, Azalea, 4 Hydrangeas and a Juniper bush (yes I kept it). Then I divided plants in other parts of the garden and added them here, including five variegated evergreen Irises, over 30 Heuchera and a couple Red Twig Dogwood cuttings (I’m experimenting).

To fill in the blanks, I purchased a couple plants too. They’re still hiding so don’t expect to see anything yet. I planted 4 Hosta ‘Avocado’, 4 Hosta ‘Revolution’, 4 Hosta ‘Frozen Margarita’, 4 Hosta ‘Summer Music’, a Hosta ‘Big Daddy’, a Hosta ‘Wolverine’, a Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, a Heuchera ‘Pino Gris’, 5 Heuchera ‘Purple Palace’, Bleeding Heart ‘Alba’, Darmera peltata, and Astilboides tabularis. Those last two will get really big.

We still need to finish the slate sitting area but at least we have the stones all set out. I’ll post another picture this summer when the garden is showing off.

Apple Arbor Perch – Wordless Wednesday

Tropical Paradise in Zone 8a

Over the last couple years I’ve become a huge fan of tropical plants with big leaves (and succulents).  It all started after seeing a HUGE Hosta during the Queen Ann garden tour a couple years ago and reading an article about a Seattle gardener who successfully grew hardy tropical plants in his garden (I read this article so long ago I can’t remember where I read it). 

Since I primarily grow perennials and veggies, I’ve decided it’s time to branch out and get a couple more tropical looking plants for the garden.  Last year I grew four Colocasia (Elephant Ears) and LOVED them.  I also have a couple big leaf Hostas that I’ve acquired over the years that are perfect for the shadier parts of the garden.

So far this year, I’ve purchased three more Colocaia and two Agave plants.  I ordered my new plants from Plant Delights in North Carolina.  I’ve heard great things about this nursery so feel pretty good about the quality of plants I’ll receive.

I also plan to purchase a hardy Banana tree and a couple Yucca plants.  This is really the extent of my sunny tropical purchases since this will fill most of the available sunny spots in my yard (after I move some plants).  I’m especially excited about the Agave and Yucca plants since they look great all year long and will add the needed ‘winter interest’ that’s currently missing in my garden.

I figure what I don’t have room for in the garden, I’ll put in pots for our new patio area.  Tropical plants always look amazing in pots.