January Projects

We've been very lucky so far this year. The weather has been dreamy, even balmy, at 61 degrees for a short stretch. As we love nothing more than spending time outside and as the project list is still a vital document in our household, Facilities Manager and I took advantage of our rare, warm January weather by tackling a couple to-dos.

 First up, paths: I love them. They give definition to the garden and make for logical places to traverse our property. They also link vital areas. Here, we are looking at the edge of the labyrinth garden and Himalayan mounds. This area is close to the vegetable garden, so I wanted to connect the two with a path. This is a "before" shot in November. Also, note the scraggly lilac on the far right.



 A few weeks ago I defined the path area by digging out the edges. We've have a lot of rain since then, so I hadn't worked on it any more, what with the heavy soil and all. The lilac, now without its leaves, received a good pruning last week. I considered taking it out all together, but I decided to wait until spring and see whether the haircut improved matters.




 The new path swoops down towards the gate to the vegetable garden. The tree in the center of the photograph is a dwarf fig tree, beckoning you towards the edible portion of our gardens.


Facilities Manager surprised me by not only digging out the rest of the path but on Monday morning visiting our local rock quarry to obtain big, chunky gravel for the bottom layer.


 FM dug down a generous six inches, a good thing since this field grass is quite aggressive. We want to keep the grass from encroaching on the path as much as is possible. As a bottom layer, FM also re-used landscape fabric that we found under six inches of sand in the former labyrinth when we first began working on the garden spring of 2016. As a rule I detest landscape fabric, but for areas where you really don't want anything to grow, like a path, it comes in handy, especially if it's free.



This is the connecting point of three major elements of the garden: the labyrinth garden, the Himalayan mounds to the left, and the new path leading to the vegetable garden. It needed some love.


 Here it is after FM dug it out and added chunky gravel. 



 We added quarter-ten crushed gravel as the top layer, we use it all over the garden and have a rather large pile in the driveway. I think we'll always have gravel hanging about, it comes in handy for so many tasks. Here, I've added three wheel-barrows full to the top of the path. I predict it will take 20 loads for the whole path.





 At this point I had added six loads of smaller gravel (top of path) atop chunky gravel (foreground). Normally I try to do more than that, but I had other projects in mind to work on. This can always wait another week or two when I'm in the mood for an upper body workout.




 What I want to do here is remove that triangle of grass and plant it up with a low shrub of some sort to soften the lines of this part of the garden. Another day.




This is what it looks like today. A major path through the labyrinth garden now continues on and connects two very different parts of the property.  UPDATE: FM added five barrows' full with his big barrow. Job done!




 This is what it looked like last weekend. Gravel and Facilities Manager are my best friends.


 To the gate! We realize it's a little silly to keep the gate here without a fence, but it's well-built and cemented into the ground. Plus, it looks cool so we leave it for ornamental purposes. The path that for now ends at the gate will continue on through it, to the edge of the fence in the distance. You can just make out the flags that mark where path will go.

The question now is how to build that path and of what materials. Gravel is expensive and that is at least 100 feet of path to build, no way we're digging out that much field grass and soil. It's uneven, so at the very least I would like to smooth it out. We are open to ideas and suggestions. Facilities Manager thinks we should leave it as grass for at least it won't be muddy. I agree, but long term, the unevenness is a hazard.


 Next up: Raspberries. Facilities Manager wanted to create a trellis to support our up-and-coming raspberry patch. He wanted to use branches from hazel trees on the property, so he designed this. We like the rustic look of the branches, but he did reinforce it with fence poles on either end and five others on the right side of the trellis.



 The plastic is in place to try to solarize the weeds in between before we put down a mulch. We have five plants here that won't be allowed to flop over with all that support.



 Lastly, our little raised-bed area needed some love. This photo is even after I weeded all around them, for the crimson clover we planted as a cover crop took over the gravel FM laid down between the beds last summer.



My plan was to use those pavers seen on the left as paths between the raised beds. I also cleared out some old parsley from the box on the lower right and planted sweet peas.


 My incredibly simple trellis, I hope it holds. 



 I leveled the soil/gravel and began to lay down the pavers. As this is a downward slope, I found I was setting them in more like steps rather than a flat path. That could be a real hazard, so I dug these out and started over.




 Satisfied with this imperfect path, I carried on and added the remaining pavers where they would be most helpful.



I top-dressed the whole thing with a layer of gravel. It will probably be planted with some creeping thyme between pavers to keep the soil in place. For now, I'm very happy with it.


 Much of our focus for this year's projects will be on this part of the garden, so it feels great to get a jump start on the season. A few more paths, some tilling and amending of the soil and adding a few more permanent vegetables like artichokes and asparagus will keep us busy for a long while. Oh, and weeding as well. I keep this pace going because I tell myself that projects like this, if done right the first time, I will only have to do once, then I can move on to improve another part of the garden. With two acres on our hands, I predict I will be busy for the rest of our lives. Here's hoping.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and commenting. Happy gardening one and all!



Comments

  1. Wow! Everything looks wonderful. I love the path and I am blown away with your rustic raspberry support trellis. My raspberries are going crazy, I need a better support but will have to cut the plants down to the ground to build one. I'm still pretty new to gardening and country living, tell me, will it hurt them to cut them back that far. I would hate to kill them, they give us such amazing fruit.
    I hope you have an answer to this and that you'll stop by and visit. I am celebrating 6 years of blog this week with a Give-A-Way. Come put your name in the hat:)
    Connie

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    1. Hi Connie! Well, there are two types of raspberries - June bearers and everbearing. For pruning, it should be ok, but read here for more information: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/sites/default/files/ec1306.pdf

      It's a great resource.

      Thanks for commenting and mentioning your give-away, that's mighty sweet of you!

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  2. It's been great to have these few nice days to get a little jump start on projects. I've made a start too on clearing a bed out that I want to redo. It's just me though, so it's slow going. I wish I had a Facilities Manager. The pavers look great set in gravel around the raised beds. Your rustic supports are fun too!

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    1. I wish you had a Facilities Manager too, Alison. It has been soooo wonderful to have some fresh air to breathe and be outside. I'll head over to your blog to see what you've been up to! Always fun stuff with Bonnie Lassie!

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  3. I love the new paths, especially the pavers and gravel between and around the raised beds! Since you don't need the gate there with the deer fence all around, maybe you could take the gate itself off of the posts and use those well-anchored posts as foundation for an arbor? The two posts with an arch between them would be enough for a smaller flowering vine or climbing rose, or add at least two more posts to create something big enough for grapes or kiwis!

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    1. Oooh, Evan, that's a GREAT idea. I think I'll do it! We have a bunch of hops David's cousin gave us, but I bet they'd be too aggressive for this. Maybe a flowering vine would be better...hmmm....

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    2. I thought you were my friend, Evan! FM gots lots and enough to do! heehee. FM

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  4. You 2 are the most industrious couple I know of! Well done!

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    1. Thank you Kris! Industrious and sore. I hope my body doesn't regret this in years to come.

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  5. A few sunny days = a Great Leap Forward. The artistry of it all is what most impresses me. No surprise there, my dear...and Happy Belated Birthday to you!

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    1. Aaaw, thank you Rickii! Can't wait to start working with you again at Joy Creek!

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  6. The raspberry trellis is awesome! Much more handsome that the 'rope' method we employ in our plot. And..T! Your raised beds look so smart now with the pavers and gravel. We placed about 4 yards worth of bark chips from the tree we took down, around all of our raised beds. I have grand plans to use retaining stones I got from Heather for free to build an edge and then continue to fill with bark chips. I'd love to put a picket fence around my edible area too. As you wisely said..all this land should keep you busy for the rest of your lives. I am in the same boat!

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    1. Oooh, bark chips! Yes, if we had those we'd use them. I like how wood chips look in a veggie garden. Your plan sounds very cool, picket fence and all. Here's to playing in our gardens for the rest of our lives!! :)

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  7. I love your raspberry trellis ! Maybe I'll just hack a few branches from the giant Hazel that seems to have seeded itself in my place .
    I like all your new paths . My dogs are responsible for all mine , I just went along with it and dumped gravel down , which gets scattered about and needs more gravel every year . I actually quite enjoy the re graveling to be honest .
    Happy Belated Birthday !

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    1. Thank you Linda! Hazel limbs are great, we have enough of them at any rate.

      Dog paths are legitimate paths, I like that idea! Maybe we need to adopt some dogs!

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  8. It always feels so good to get a project finished. Your path to the veg garden is great. I think the gate is a promise of good things to come. I like trellises that are made of sticks. They look so natural. I am sure that the raspberries will like it too. Much better getting cozy to a more natural prop than wire and steel. The pavers look so neat and tidy in the raised bed section. I can't wait to see how this area develops over summer.

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    1. Oh, yes, I love a finished project. Thank you for your kind words, Lisa. I think the gate is a promise of good things - I just have to design something. Ideas are welcome!

      I am looking forward to seeing it fill in this summer, too.

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  9. Love the look of the gravel paths! I plan on doing gravel for the main paths and wood chips for the secondary paths. If you did the arbor over the veggie gate, you could also grow climbing edibles like beans (scarlet runners are especially attractive), peas, even squashes and cucumbers would look cool hanging down! My veggie garden is several years off yet, so love seeing what you are doing with yours :-)

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    1. Miss Gina of Fernhaven! Thank you! Gravel rocks. I want to do wood chips for a bunch of the veggie garden, probably for paths in between. I like your idea of growing edibles over the "veggie gate" - scarlet runners would be fabulous! I like it! I could mix it with other things like nasturtium/cucumbers - whatever! Great ideas, Gina.

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  10. Tamara, I work for www.gardeningknowhow.com and wanted to see if you may be interested in being a Guest Blogger for the upcoming garden season? You previously wrote an article for us and we would love to have you back! You can email me at stacey@gardeningknowhow.com if your interested. Sorry to contact you here, but glad I ventured here! Love your blog! New fan! Stacey Weichert

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