Ev asked for pictures of the garden, so I had The Boy (who is a great photographer) take a few shots today while I finished raking the wide beds.
This shows the new ‘mini-raised beds’: large tin cans with the tops and bottoms removed, filled with soil and planted with herbs that should be kept from spreading (or clearly identified). I have no idea how well the cans will hold up to the weather, although all of these are enamelled on the inside, so perhaps they’ll be more durable than the usual sort. Trying them out seems a good way to discover the outcome – they were free, after all! (Thanks Mom!)
If you look closely you can see the wooden plant labels – I splurged and picked them up at Lee Valley, having grown tired of cutting up yogurt containers into strips that just get lost in the dirt. The orange thing is a spike waterer: you put a pop bottle on the top and it’ll slowly water a plant (another Lee Valley widget).
And here you see yours truly, decked out in garden gear, raking the wide rows. The straw cowboy hat keeps the sun out of my eyes and off my fair skin, and the rubber boots are lined with sheepskin which makes them both warm and cushioned. The belt is my “Quaker Sword Belt”: it’s a thrift store D-ring belt to which is attached my Japanese hori knife (for weeding), a sheathed dagger (I’m useless with a flip blade, and there’s always bale string that needs cutting if I haven’t got a knife with me), and a net bag containing the house phone, my cell phone, and a family radio (I was on call today, and The Boy was out and about). It’s very handy having all the ‘usual tools’ attached to a belt that can just be added on to whatever I’m already wearing – although I do need to replace the net bag with something smaller … it was what was handy today, but it’s too big to really work well.
Anyway, the white arch is plastic tubing (previously used as row cover supports) which is marking where the rebar row-markers are placed (I discovered that rusted rebar isn’t particularly visible against a dirt-and-straw backdrop, so these are serving as safety markers). The wide rows are measured very scientifically: they are just as wide as I can comfortably step across. I figure I won’t always want to walk around to the end of the rows, so if I can take one big step and get across, that’s about how big it ought to be. The pathways between the rows are about as wide as I am, on the assumption that I won’t be taking a wagon down between these paths, just walking (the raised beds are spaced so that the wagon fits between them, but then, those are rather solid fixtures, and it’s best to have a bit of room to manoeuvre).
There are only 5 rows for the wide beds, which doesn’t seem like it could possibly be enough. However, with the wider rows, there’s room for more plants – it’s not just one long row of tomatoes, they can be staggered so that each still has enough room to breathe, but the total number of plants is almost double what we’d get if we just had one single row.
I’m sure I’ll still find that I need more garden space – as I learn to preserve what we grow, I’ll want more available to put up for winter, plus our summer eating, but for now, it sure feels good to have all that compost spread out, raked mostly smooth, and marked out for planting.