Family Garden Reimagined

This is our second spring in this house and we decided we wanted to redesign the garden we created last year. We learned a lot of lessons from last years setup and wanted to be more thoughtful this time around. First we dismantled last years garden setup. Our 3 year old had a great time helping us create the new garden space! This is a whole family activity!

The next step was to build the new garden boxes! We decided to build them tall this time for multiple reasons. We wanted more room for roots and the new horticultural technique we wanted to try out. We also learned the hard way how hard on your back low garden beds can be at harvest time. We also figured tall beds would keep the dogs out of them (we were wrong about this… our dogs can jump…)

The new horticultural technique we wanted to try out is called Hügelkultur. It’s where the base of your planter is constructed from decaying wood debris and other compostable plant biomaterial.  It’s suggested this technique helps to improve soil fertility, water retention, and soil warming, benefiting plant growth. Some say to let the material rest for several months before planting, others advise immediate planting. We decided to split the difference and let it rest about a month before planting our produce. The original German publications described the mounds as having a lifespan of about 5–6 years, after which they have to be rebuilt from scratch.

The next improvement was a Gravity Irrigation System. Last year we used these metal tubs for planting but any heavy rain just built up and drown our plants. We decided to repurpose it this year as a way to water our plants with ease. An additional benefit is when it rains it fills it back up and cuts down on water costs. The tub is full of water and we have a hose splitter with a timer so we can control how much water is being released. That way we can adjust based on need, for example spring will need less water while summer will need more. The water travels from the tub through the hoses laid out in the garden beds. These hoses release droplets of water throughout the length of the hose. evenly watering the entire bed.

We had a huge storm hit us in February and which most of the branches and trees we lost were hauled away and burned we decided to utilize as much of what nature provided as possible. We used some for the Hügelkultur system and the prettier ones for a gate and this trellis. This trellis will be used for our peas and beans instead of a store bought one. I love how unique it looks!

The rest of the branches were used to create a much needed gate. Our dogs were not deterred by the tall branches and immediately jumped in and started digging… My husband is a genius when it comes to creative solutions and this may be some of his best work yet! He attached branches to the house and the property line fence. Then he built off of that with similar sized branches. In the middle he created the doorway with a removeable and lockable gate. He decided not to hinge it and instead make it completely removable. By interweaving the branches you can lock it in place and even our dogs couldn’t get through. Plus I think it looks really cool!

All that was left to do was plant! We did careful research on what plants grow well together and mapped out a plan before purchasing plants. It was still getting cold at night when we planted them even though the days were reaching nearly 70. So to keep the plants warm we built a make shift greenhouse that could be easily removed during the day.

He also built a compost box right outside the garden which we have been talking about for years. We have been waiting for the right time to buy a fancy one but he had left over materials and a compost box really doesn’t need to be fancy… We started putting our lawn clippings, coffee grounds and just everyday produce waste in there and it has already started creating soil from it.

Next week I will show you the custom herb garden wall we built! I’m in love with it!!!

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