Monday, March 21, 2011

Potager Evolution

My energy and time and enthusiasm have all been poured into the potager during the last month or so. It helps that it's been unseasonably warm and that I've had lots of help this year, too, all culminating in the production of a winter-long re-design brainstorm. There were times when I'd step back and look at what had to be done and feel totally overwhelmed and like there was no end in sight, but it's a good thing I'm stubborn...

Let's take a look at the evolution of the thing, shall we? We all remember what it looked like last year...

So quaint...

The problem was that my four 4x4 foot raised beds weren't big enough to accommodate everything I wanted to plant. I ended up spreading things out around the yard, past the reach of the hose, and out of the regular monitoring range that the raised beds benefited from. I realized pretty quickly that it was a mistake to have, say, zucchini and pumpkins at the back of the yard with no amended soil, water, or pest control. It got my gears turning- what if I expanded the beds north and south to make room for my squash, gourds, and melons? That way, everything could be monitored and watered and perhaps would then stand a better chance for producing... well, anything. Hmmm. I sketched it out and started planning. 

In the meantime, the mud that I'd used to hold together the walls of the raised beds had weathered, shrunk, and washed away. I realized I should have used mortar from the beginning, and had made a labor-intensive mistake. Lucky for me, I have a crafty hubby and father-in-law who were able to solve the problem of my crumbling walls in a single afternoon. 

 A little dirt relocation, some sand and mortar, and voila! The base four squares were ready for another season. Thanks, guys!

Now we just had to implement my expansion designs and work through the late winter to get everything in order for spring! I was very insistent that procrastination not get the better of me this year, as last year I waited way, way too long to put seeds and plants in the ground, and I shorted myself quite a bit of veggie production due to the heat. So, this year, we started the rototiller in mid-February (and by we, I mean the hubs to the rescue, yet again). 

Don't feel sorry for the hubby, he had a great helper

Damp, hard clay and weeds tilled up and baking in the warm Texas February sunshine

With more help from the in-laws, the hard clay lumps and weeds were raked out of the newly tilled spaces, hauled to the back of the yard, and used to fill in holes that had been doggie escape hatches throughout the winter. Once that fun job was finished, it was time to start defining the new beds with stones.

This wasn't the best part the first time I did it, and it certainly wasn't my favorite part this time around, either, but we got it finished! I am so thankful for the free supply of stones from the front yard. What a huge bonus in our garden designs!

Don't feel sorry for me, either, as I also had an awesome helper

Things slowly started to shape up and fill in...

After multiple afternoons of toil and troubles, loads and loads of topsoil and compost, and many a muscle ache, my garden visions finally manifested themselves, and they now stand ready to receive their precious charges...

The trellis Bill made for me, based on a method for growing a "tomato wall" which I am super excited to try this season!

I finally decided to annex the tree and use it to support climbing cucumbers

As if my persistence, stubbornness, and particular directions weren't hard enough to work around, the hubs and the father-in-law also had to work around seeds I started planting in late February in the original 4 raised beds. They worked faithfully, though, and completed some of the hardest parts of the garden renovation for me without me having to lift a finger. This project was truly a community affair, and when our plants start to produce their springtime and summer treasures, we will feast in their honor and enjoy every bit of it!

This season, we will be growing:
Radishes (scarlet globe and icicle)
Sweet yellow onions
Lettuces (several varieties)
Green beans (green bush, purple bush, and pole)
Yellow squash
Tomatoes (roma, big boy, and celebrity)
Peppers (bell and hot)
Sugar pie pumpkins
Sugarbaby watermelons
Chives (standard and garlic)
 Red basil
Lots and lots of flowers

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