March 6, 2010
Just before Valentine’s Day, a client of mine asked me to install a garden for his wife for Valentine’s Day. What a great idea! A garden is definitely one of those gifts that keeps on giving. I was able to do a quick sketch for him (see below) to give his wife on Valentine’s Day. I installed the garden the following week. I was also recently asked to give the gift of a vegetable garden consultation and design to a family that wants to grow some of their own food in downtown Austin. I love being a part of people’s gift-giving! And because I am having so much fun being a part of this process, I’ve decided to offer gift certificates from Edible Yards. Contact me if you’d like to give a garden to someone!
Valentine’s Day Garden
September 24, 2009
We just added this raised garden bed to our backyard mix. We designated it “Joe Henry’s Special Garden” and we told him he could grow anything he wanted in it. As you can see, he has decided that the best current use is for earthmoving with his diggers. He’s also planted plum seeds (even though we told him they probably wouldn’t grow to produce plums like the one he ate.) In addition to plums, he also wants to plant corn and strawberries (strawberries, ah-ha, finally something that works in this planting season!)
There are so many things to say about building raised beds in Austin. Many folks choose raised beds over in-ground beds because you can fill them with some really fabulous, imported soil mixes and get good results right away. Raised beds are often easier to manage too. There are many different ways to build raised beds and many different materials to use. Some of my favorites for outlining the bed are untreated cedar or pine, tree logs including native cedar, cinder blocks and rocks. We had some old limestone blocks sitting around and decided to use them to outline Joe Henry’s garden. It might be hard to see in the picture, but we leveled the bed since it is built on a slope. When building on a slope, it is important to level the beds so you don’t end up with a bunch of seeds and soil running out one end. Also, if you are building a raised bed in an area with a lot of weeds or grass, you should try to put down some sort of weed barrier underneathe the raised beds – make sure it spreads out into the path area since weeds love to creep through the paths and into our gardens. Good weedbarrier material includes things that may break down over several season such as cardboard, layered newspaper and paper mulch. These will all allow water and air to move through and will hopefully kill the grass and weeds below. Once these materials break down, the soil underneathe the raised bed will provide additional depth and fertility for your plant roots. Here’s a link to an interesting discussion about raised beds. I really love the raised beds made out of willow. Anyone out there trying anything like this in Austin? I’d love to hear about other interesting materials used to create raised beds.
July 24, 2009
This week we’re traveling throughout the Midwest. One of my missions on this vacation is to study and be inspired by the vegetable gardens and farms we visit. I am paying close attention to their designs – layouts, repeated patterns, hardscape features and the ways food crops are integrated into the landscape. Our first stop was Kansas City, Missouri:
Our friend Jessica and her youngest daughter, Pearl, pose next to their edible front yard in Kansas City. Even though her yard is tiny (about 400 square feet), Jessica has transformed her front lawn into a thriving vegetable garden complete with cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, squash, tomatillos, and a lovely border of zinnias for color. She has integrated several hardscape or permanent features into her garden that give it structure, prevent erosion and give access. The railroad tie and rocks keep her sloped yard (and rich, organic soil) from sliding down onto the sidewalk. Check out her brick pathway lined with flowers and tomatoes below:
Here’s a shot of Josephine (Jessica’s oldest daughter) and my son, Joe Henry, picking tomatoes while standing on the brick pathway. A more permanent pathway makes it easier for kids to remember to walk on the paths and not in the garden beds!
Green Zebra tomatoes in Jessica’s garden