The Terraced Row Garden

Sunday, June 16, 2019

I have been spending every nice weather day in the backyard since the beginning of April, digging up goldenrod root balls from a 20-year-neglected, 650 square foot garden plot. Amazing progress. A half deer-protected plot for asparagus and other veggies in raised beds. And a half terraced/rows garden, for daffodils, onions, garlic, and alliums (that deer and rodents do not eat). It has taken so, so long to get the garden to this state. Weeks and weeks of digging. Then more digging. Hauling root balls to the far edges of the yard. Breaking dried out stems down into bits for walkway mulch. I had blisters on both my thumbs at some point.
Making Terraced, Mounded Rows in the Garden

I'm using a mounded row approach from OldWorldGardenFarms, with 18" growing rows and 24" walking paths, for half the garden, outside of the deer fence. The soil drains a little better on this side of the yard and there's a reasonable number of varieties of plants that deer and critters do not prefer.

I cleaned out all the decomposing goldenrod stems in early spring, before anything was growing. Then I dug out the entire top ~5" of the plot, pulled out all the goldenrod root balls I could find, and mounded the growing rows as needed to make a sort of terraced garden, as our yard is very sloped. I then covered the walkways with a whole bunch of broken up goldenrod stems previously removed. I mixed some 2-2-2 fertilizer into the native soil for the daffodils. For the middle row (which now has a bunch of onions), I also mixed in some composted cow manure and azomite mineral dust. The native soil is very clay-like, and retains moisture too well. In the future, I'll probably mix more leaf compost in to help with drainage.
A wheelbarrow of weeds, after Memorial Day Weekend neglect

The back row spent some time covered in cardboard, to hold back the weeds while I determined what plants to place their (and acquired mulch). The first several years are going to be spent on improving the soil and killing the weeds. 'Hoping going no till helps with this.
Usign rocks to hold down garden cardboard walkways


The daffodils are in the front row of the terraced plot, volunteer asparagus appeared in the middle and back row, and I planted 200 onion sets in the middle row for red, yellow, and green onions this year. Chives (a perennial) are on the end. This was the initial plan, but I've since drawn up a new plan to place a perennial pollinators' garden in the back row. This will move the chives and daffodils there, leaving the asparagus to share a row with garlic, and the front row to handle onions (remind me to do rootball removal on this row after I move the daffodils).

Daffodils - May 17, 2019
I talk a bit more about the daffodils in a separate post on spring-planting autumn bulbs.

Chives are Planted A new baby asparagus blooming
The middle row currently houses volunteer green asparagus, red onions, yellow onions, and green onions (really just white onion sets planted close together and harvested early). I have a whole separate post on asparagus coming up so I won't drone on about them here. Next year, this row will be asparagus (need to transplant one from the back row) and garlic, I think.

Row Garden - Perennial Flowers Planted
The back row is an assortment of perennial flowers for pollinators that are deer and critter resistant. I'll plant white bearded irises in August, and a whole bunch of alliums in the fall, as well as transplanting the daffodils and chives. The way it's worked out, the flowers will be planted in drifts (small drifts at first, larger when I figure out what thrives/dies) with taller species toward the back, and a few things flowering at all times. Whites and shades of purple. This should help attract bees and other beneficial critters, while also being smelly enough to discourage deer and snails.

Row Garden - Slate from Patio Demo

Garden Clearing

Friday, June 14, 2019

When we moved into the house in July, this was the (very lovely) view from the dining room:

Notice the giant, ~640 sq ft patch of tall goldenrod, formerly the garden where the original owner of the house grew asparagus and squash, and other vegetables. The plot gets full sun [nearly] all day, and while near the bottom of a hill it is not the bottom of the hill, so there is somewhere for the water to drain off. At exactly 100' from the house, a hose can be used for all the watering needs. It is a pretty good spot for growing vegetables. Which is why I spent the past several months since April turning the above goldenrod pile into the below garden:
Garden Time Lapse - 6/12

I started clearing brush around our last snowfall the first week of April. Piles and piles of dead and decaying goldenrod. 640 square feet, neglected for 10 years. Hard, hard labor during a very stressful work period. My back and arms ached, I was covered in scratches, but the debris was removed and carted to a corner of the yard.
Still more brush to clear
...only to be carted back to the yard and broken into little pieces by hand, to serve as walkway ground cover, or filler in the bottom of raised beds:
Making Terraced, Mounded Rows in the Garden

I uncovered 4 boards with spikes buried under the goldenrods, and set them up to support the mounded terrace rows.
Trees Need to be Removed

J transplanted two small trees from the garden elsewhere, and removed two thorn bushes in late April, just after I planted a mix of daffodils in the front, raised row. Then I dug out the top 3" of the back 3/4 of the row garden, removing all the goldenrod rootballs and exiling them to a special pile in the corner of the yard. The daffodil row did not get this treatment. Maybe in the fall when I transplant the daffodils elsewhere?

The first week of May, Jim built the raised garden beds from untreated pine, and a week later I was double-digging a space for them, with 2' of space as a walkway.
Double Digging for the Shallow Raised Bed

The dog greatly enjoyed the digging phase:
The Dog Enjoying Her New Mud Pit

At first, I thought I'd have a half deer-protected section, and then a half raised row/terrace section for alliums, onion, garlic, and daffodils. I'm rearranging what goes in the rows a bit, but the same basic structure will be maintained: ~3 mounded rows that aren't deer/critter-protected, and a second half of the garden protected by fencing. We'll see how this works out!

Garden Time Lapse

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

i.e., what I've been doing for months now.

Garden Time Lapse - 4/5
Garden Time Lapse - 4/6
Garden Time Lapse - 4/7
Garden Time Lapse - 4/13
(Daffodils planted + trees removed!)
Garden Time Lapse - 4/20
Garden Time Lapse - 4/21
(First volunteer, green asparagus makes its appearance!)
Garden Time Lapse - 5/5
Garden Time Lapse - 5/19
(Short raised bed completed and purple asparagus planted!)
Garden Time Lapse - 5/15
Garden Time Lapse - 5/19
(First purple asparagus appears!)
Garden Time Lapse - 5/31
Garden Time Lapse - 6/3
(Mesclun lettuce mix planted, 3/6 already bolted, even with cardboard partial shade)
Garden Time Lapse - 6/12

Winter Sowing Seeds

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Winter Sowing - Sugar Snap Peas, Kale, Kohlrabi, and Chives
While a previous post may regale you with the success of spring-planting fall bulbs...winter sowing in spring will not be quite as successful.

Don't get me wrong, the winter sowing method in used-up milk & fruit jugs worked gangbusters. It's just that you need to plant in February/March so you have seedlings ready to plant in May. My second raised bed still isn't ready due to a garden injury, but I figured I'd start my seeds anyways. Not sure how I stumbled on TheReidHomestead's post on Winter Sowing 101, but it seemed like an approachable enough avenue of attack - and it was!

Winter Sowing - Sugar Snap Peas, Kale, Kohlrabi, and Chives
Basically, you cut around a cleaned container around 4" from the bottom, leaving 1" uncut to use as a hinge. Cut some drainage holes in the bottom and the side/bottoms, and maybe a couple optional holes at the top of the container to let some additional moisture escape. You then fill the bottom of the carton with 2-3" of potting soil (I use Happy Frog). Now you have a mini greenhouse!

Next you plant the seeds a little more shallowly than suggested on the package. The best plants for this approach are the kind successful in early spring and a little hardy in cold temperatures. It's best to start this in winter (sprouting won't occur until much later). The greenhouse will buffer the seeds from the worst weather, but many plants actually prefer a little coldness action. You won't have to do anything except ignore the mini-greenhouses until the seedlings get a few inches tall.

Use duct tape to seal around the mid-carton cut, and remove the lid of the container. Place the mini-greenhouse where it will get sun and rain/snow, but where the wind won't knock it over.

Modifying Mini-Greenhouses for Winter Sowing with Twist-tie Closure Modifying Mini-Greenhouses for Winter Sowing with Twist-tie Closure
As the seedlings sprout and get larger, you'll need to open the top half on hot days, so the seedlings don't get fried. At this point, you'll probably want to water them. As you get close to transplanting day, it's a good idea to occasionally open the top half of the carton to give the plants some real world exposure. I found myself opening and closing these quite a bit (the consequences of sowing in spring, not winter), and this wore the duct tape out pretty quickly. So I modified my containers to have a twist-tie closure which is considerably more reusable. Not quite as critter proof, but it should be okay for spring planting in mini greenhouses.

Winter Sown Seedlings (in spring), 2-3 weeks growth
Top row - sugar snap peas (planted May 9 & May 17)
Bottom left - purple and white kohlrabi - planted May ~17
Bottom right - mixed kale - planted May 9

Either way, this approach worked so much better then trying to start seeds in egg cartons indoors. And this way, no hardening-off is necessary!

Purple and White Kohlrabi

Source: By The Moon Seed (c/o Etsy)
Winter Sowing - Mixed Kohlrabi, 5/24/19, 1 week after planting
1 week after sowing (5/24)
Purple & White Kohlrabi Winter Sown

Sugar Snap Peas (Cascadia)

Source: High Mowing Organic (c/o Aubuchon)
Sugar Snap Peas Winter Sown
Planted around May 17 (5/29)

Nancy's Baby Leaf Blend Kale

Source: Hart's Seeds Organic (c/o Aubuchon)
Winter Sowing - Mixed Kale (5/19/19, ~1.5 weeks after sowing) Winter Sowing - Mixed Kale, 5/24/19
Left: 1.5 weeks growth (5/19). Right: 5 days later (5/24).
Mixed Kale Winter Sown
Sprouting their second set of leaves (their first real set). Close to edible already! (5/29)

Preserve Status: The Jam Cabinet

Friday, June 7, 2019

On the left is the jam cabinet after fall/winter gifting. Getting a little light on goodies. Still some strawberry jams left, a pint of cherries here or there, and a decent supply of autumn's apple butters and apple sauces.

Jam Cabinet at Spring 2019 Jam Cabinet after Dandelion Jelly, Vanilla Pear Jam, and Strawberries in Vanilla Syrup
I really like giving preserves as small thank you gifts. A jar of brandied cherries work great at parties, bread & apple butter for pot-lucks, other preserves for housewarmings, vanilla pear jam to complement a recent gift of homemade bread, etc. And so, after ~9 months of these type of events, the jam cabinet thins out a bit. But now getting into spring again, the supply is getting replenished (see photo on the right).

Below is the jam cabinet at November 2018 (the end of last year's preserving season), and then some photos of a recent batch of 3lbs of strawberries in vanilla syrup when they went on sale for $1.50/lb. Really fills out the cabinet!
The Canning Cabinet in November Strawberries in Vanilla Syrup
Strawberries in Vanilla Syrup

Preserving: Vanilla Pear Jam (or sauce?)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Vanilla Pear Jam/Sauce
My first-ish experience with liquid pectin (right after my first experiment with powdered pectin), and I have real doubts about the setting of this Pear Vanilla Jam from Food In Jars. Perhaps it's because I let the chopped pears sit in sugar overnight, and then food processed before cooking? I don't know. However, the leftovers I have in the fridge are set fine, and go absolutely brilliantly with croissants, or other jam-delivery-mechanisms. This is a definite make again, assuming the jam sets.

Set or no set, this jam will make a tasty syrup for some yogurt or ice cream. It's so good. Possibly better than strawberries in vanilla syrup. Will make again. Someday.
Vanilla Pear Jam/Sauce

Related Posts with Thumbnails