Annual Vegetables, Permaculture, Sustainable

New Vegetable Bed

My Nematode issue in my primary vegetable bed means I can’t plant tomatoes and peppers there this year. But skip them entirely? Blasphemy. Far better to convert more yard to garden.

Here’s the before picture of an ugly corner of my yard, where the shed meets the awful metal/chain link fence. Someday I’ll tackle both the shed and the fence, but today is all about the vegetables.

That weed-covered trellis is propped over a 2′ x 2′ chunk of concrete. I’ve tried digging it up and can’t find the bottom. No idea why it’s there but it’s in a terrible location and I can’t get rid of it today. So I’m going to try to work with it.

Step 1. Clear out that trellis. Dig up the soil. Mix in manure and a bit of garden soil.

Step 2. Lay down cardboard. This should serve as an early weed block while the garden establishes, without the heat-capturing damage that plastic can do. Eventually it will degrade and feed the worms.

Step 3. Cut holes in the cardboard for seedlings.

Step 4. Cover everything in mulch. I decided to do this before planting so I wouldn’t have to be gentle around fragile transplants. I covered the concrete as well. Hopefully this will help pull it into the design.

Step 5. Plant. I spaced those cutouts so I could easily find them under the mulch. I planted tomatoes and peppers every 18″ or so. In between them, I added peppermint, spearmint, mustard greens, and mesclun mix greens.

Step 6. Clean up, add a bench and a few potted plants. A small mulberry tree in a pot sits on top of the now hidden concrete slab.

It’s not beautiful yet, but it’s better. And when the veggies are tall and full of fruit, I’ll love it. (The dog already approves.)

Here’s the best part of the new area: the view from that little white bench.

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Florida Natives, Permaculture

Home again, home again

I love my time in Minnesota celebrating the holidays. I feel warm and loved with my family. But after ten days of wind and ice and a blizzard that ushered us out with a foot of new snow, I was looking forward to my own backyard.

Cranberry hibiscus

Cranberry hibiscus

Full blooms on perennials waited for me.

Peace lily and hibiscus tree

Peace lily and hibiscus tree

Firespike

Firespike

Firespikes that I thought I killed a year ago returned. This is the first time this gift from a generous neighbor has flowered for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing the pollinators it attracts.

Leaf of life blooms

Leaf of life blooms

And my sprawling Leaf of Life plant shot tall flowering spikes dripping with little purple bells.

And the mulch. That beautiful gift of mulch I received in late October is still underway. In the past few weeks, I mulched the giant perennial bed, the smaller vegetable bed, and the pots. I mulched the oak trees and avocado and mulberry and citrus. My husband pitched in for a few wheelbarrow loads along the front of the house. And still, this remains:

All that shoveling and hauling and dumping and spreading and I’m only halfway through this massive pile of mulch. Sigh. So, you can guess my weekend plan.

Still, it’s good to be home in sunny Tampa where I’m prepping for the next growing season, starting… now.

Sustainable

The Gift of Mulch

Cool temps and soft breezes. I am thrilled November has arrived.

And, there’s more! I came home from a business trip to find this giant pile of mulch in my driveway.

Mulch from Chip Drop

Chip Drop came through for me. If you are unfamiliar with Chip Drop, this is a sustainable service worth learning about.

To add the recommended 3-4″ of mulch over my giant perennial bed, and my annual vegetable garden, and my large potted trees and bananas, I require bags upon bags of mulch. So many good trees demolished. So much plastic. So much cash.

As an alternative, Chip Drop connects with local tree services companies in the area. When someone in your neighborhood has a tree cut down, the tree service mulches it and drop it in your driveway or yard or wherever you specify. This is my second delivery.

The first time, I received a fresh pine tree and my yard smelled of Christmas for weeks. This one is a finer, cleaner mulch. And they provided enough for me to mulch everything in my backyard as well as start the other landscaping projects I’ve been planning all year.

Technically, the Chip Drop service is free. But there are so many sustainably-minded homeowners in my area that waiting for a free drop can take over a year. I upped my bid from $0 to $20, and voila, a vehicle-sized mound of mulch appeared three weeks later.

I am anxious to get started. Before and after pictures to come.

And perhaps now is the time to buy the wheelbarrow I’ve been coveting. I always appreciate a clever yet simple product design, and this would cut my bending, twisting, and lifting in half.

Find out more about it at Allsop Home and Garden.