Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Garden Project of 2017 - The Plan


In my last project post, I spoke about The Solution to The Problem.  In this post, I'll give a few more details on the expansion as well as the timeline.  We don't have an able bodied crew at the ready - this will change once the kids are a bit older ;) - so most of the work will be done by me, myself and I with the occasional spousal helping hand.  Translation:  This will not be a quick project!


The Plan

After the trees were moved, we were free to start the expansion.  A picture is worth a thousand words, even a very bad Google maps image, so here is a rough illustration of the planned vegetable garden expansion:

House is on the right; the street cuts across the top left corner, neighbours driveway is on the left.
Red = Current Area #1;
Blue = Expansion to Area #1;
Green = New ornamental border;
Green "flowers" = transplanted spruce trees

We need the space right beside the house to store the utility trailer as well as to access the backyard with the riding mower, so the expanded Area #1 will start approximately 15-20' away from the side of house and go all the way to the property line.

Within the blue bordered area there are a couple of trees which will remain, specifically a cherry and a white birch cluster.  They won't be a problem in terms of shade, as they are in the north/east corner of the expanded area.  I'll also be keeping the beds a good distance away from them to avoid issues with tree roots.

The cherry tree (right) and birch cluster (left) will be located within the new veg area

Both of these trees could just as easily have been outside of the enclosed area but I decided to include them for three reasons:  (1) this entire space will be covered with wood chips so I won't have to worry about mowing or edging around the trees (always a big plus!), (2) the trees will add character to the veg garden without impeding on it's productivity and (3) since I'm considering this new area an extension of the backyard, expanding the space to include these trees increases the "usable" (i.e. puttering around) space.

There are two more small evergreens near the shed which will eventually be removed - both of them are rather sad with spindly growth and a lot of dead spots, likely because they were originally planted much too close to the spruce trees which dominated the space.

Close-up of one of the trees that we will be removing

We won't be removing them, however, until after the new ornamental border (green line in Google maps image) is planted up as they do provide a modicum of privacy to the existing veg garden.

The size of this project (and the small work crew!) means that we will be tackling it in stages over the next couple of years.  This year, we moved the trees and will be marking off and sheet mulching the expanded veg area.  The ornamental border will be edged on the neighbours side while on our side, we will use stones.

The tree moving equipment did a number on the grass in this area.
The damage, however, actually works in our favour since this entire area is being sheet mulched.

Next spring, we’ll purchase and plant up the shrubs, grasses, trees and perennials.  I would love to get to some of that this fall, but doubt we'll have the time.  Once the plantings are done, I'll be adding drip irrigation - after all the work and expense of creating a new border, I don't want the plants to merely survive, I want them to thrive!

The next step will be to add the new veg beds and break ground on a second ornamental border which runs along the north side of the veg area (the blue line directly across from the spruce).  I'm slotting this in as a "leisurely project" for next summer which means that the veg beds will not be operational until the following year (2019).   Only once the veg beds and this last border are in will we "officially" expand Area #1 by relocating the existing fencing.

So where are we at?  We've received 2 dump truck loads of wood chips and are currently in the process of sheet mulching.


Progress has been slow going - our weather has been hot, with humidex readings often in the mid-30C's/90F's, which makes working outside challenging and necessitates frequent breaks in the AC.

In addition, other areas of the garden also need attention - weeding, edging, pruning...the list goes on.  A couple of weeks ago I took a break from the "project" and finally got started on weeding and de-grassing the rather neglected berry runs.

Raspberries.  Yes, they're in there...somewhere

So far, I've spent over 15 hours on the four berry runs and have finished one raspberry run and one blackberry run.  It's a tedious task since I want to remove the grass and weeds but not damage the canes in the process.  Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my garden fork?  💗💗💗!!

Heritage raspberry run is done;
I'll be starting on the Fall Gold (to the right) this week

And that is the one certainty when you undertake any big project - it will ALWAYS take longer than you anticipate.  Why?  Because life doesn't stand still when you are up to your elbows in mulch and cardboard - dinner isn't going to magically leap from the fridge into the skillet, now is it?  And taking some time for a little R & R never hurts either - in fact, sanity often demands it!

The trick is to "know" that this will be the case and not drive yourself crazy trying to stick to a rigid timeline.  For me, that's easier said than done.  Now off to move another pile of mulch (in a very relaxed "it will get done when it gets done" sort of way)  :)

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. Hmmm, don't bank on your kids helping out in the garden when they're older, my two were so enthusiastic when I got my allotment, I even bought them their own tools, it didn't take long for them to get bored with it. What a large job you're undertaking. I know it will take time, these things do, but how exciting seeing it all come together. I can't wait to see how it all pans out.

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    1. Thank you Jo - I've been thinking of expanding that area for a few years now and it is very exciting that this "future" project is now underway. As for the kids, one can only hope they will lend a hand once they are older...or perhaps a bribe with some baked goods will do it!

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  2. Hi Margaret, You are so organized and patient! It will be so beautiful and functional once you get it all done. That raspberry row looks so pretty now that you have weeded it! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy - I usually find myself stopping when I walk past sections of the garden that I've "finished" - so satisfying!

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  3. Funny, I've got the same work crew here - me, myself, and I. This weekend the spousal support kicked in for an afternoon and the thing that I had to laugh at was that at the end of the work session when I said it's time to make dinner (same work crew), the support staff said you worked hard this afternoon, take a break. Ha ha I said, do you think this is any different from a typical day in my life? You would never eat if I took the evening off after a hard day in the garden.

    I've got the same philosophy about garden projects, they get done when they get done.

    Looking Good! The berry runs and the mulch look so tidy.

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    1. Thanks Michelle! Oh, so funny about your husband - I think our experiences are par for the course for most gardeners. I'll be working outside for hours and then come in, start dinner, tidy the kitchen - the list goes on...no big deal, right? It's always rather amusing when my other half works outside for even an hour or two...he will inevitably make a comment about how "long/hard he worked" and spend an even longer period of time in recovery on the couch :)

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  4. Nice blog- thanks for sharing! I love how you write too- very encouraging.

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    1. Oh, thanks Donna - such a compliment coming from you!

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  5. Isn't it satisfying after you have finished tidying a really messy area. I'd love to have the space that you have. Look forward to seeing how thing turn out.

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    1. I love it when an area is finished! Well, finished in the garden is relative - in reality, most things are only finished "for now".

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  6. My goodness, that's a big project. I've been working on quite a few projects around my yard this summer, but nothing comes close to moving trees! Can't wait to see the progress.

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    1. Thanks k - sometimes I think I bit off more than I can chew. But then I remind myself that the timeline is my own and it's not solely about the result - the process should be enjoyable too.

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  7. I love your plan! You should be very excited. As Robert Burnham said: "Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood." Just substitute "gardeners'" for "men", and it applies just as well.

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    1. Love that! I am very excited and am hoping to make some good progress in the next few weeks, especially as the days get cooler. I'm also REALLY looking forward to picking out the plants (of course!) as I need quite a few and this will be like getting "permission" for some serious plant shopping...I'm getting giddy just thinking about it!

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  8. Margaret, once again you have me in awe. Not just a thinker, but a do-do-doer!

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    1. Oh, you make me blush :) My husband actually thinks I need to be a bit less of a doer and a bit more of a relaxer, like him...as if that will ever happen!

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  9. Wow. more garden space. What a dream. I am a firm believer that you can never have enough garden. I will watch with excitement as your new plan unfolds!

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    1. Thanks Lexa :) I'm with you - there can never be enough garden space. My husband, however, would tend to disagree especially when I ask him to help move some mulch!

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  10. It's times like this (reading your post) that I'm glad Mark's Veg Plot is very small! Other times I wish I had more space... :) At least you're being realistic about the timescales.

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    1. I think a lot of us go through the back and forth - less space=less work; more space=more veg - it's a quandary :)

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  11. Wow, you are busy, busy! It's good that you aren't rushing through it--that way, it will be more manageable and enjoyable (?). I envy all your sun. I do, however, think the loss of the neighbor's large Oak tree has allowed more tomatoes to set in my sunny(ish) garden. Good luck! It will be fun to watch your progress!

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    1. That's true - when I think about it one piece at a time (i.e. today I'll do the edging for this section), it's not as overwhelming and very gratifying when I see the progress made, small as it may be.

      It's always sad when a tree, especially a mature one, has to come down - but more tomatoes is never a bad thing!!

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