So what with all the chicken/barn madness, you wouldn’t think we would have time for any other projects, right? Well WRONG. In between working on that stuff, we have also been busy with a lot of gardening.
Originally, my plan was just to focus on the side garden right outside the kitchen door. I really wanted to make this a happy little herb garden, and maybe, at some point, put in a little water garden as well. Back in April, I posted some pictures of my initial clean-up work in that area. Tom was also installing some of the cutest little brick paths you could ever hope to see in your life.
At first, things were going as scheduled. I got a bunch of herbs and planted them… and then we started to get a little out of control… again. 😀
Honestly, I don’t even know exactly where to start, so I’ll just start posting pictures and telling you what we did, and you can decide for yourselves when/if we crossed the line from “normal amount of things to accomplish in one year” to “what?!”
So the reason that I wanted to plant herbs is because I love them. I love that they are useful for different things, and I love that they smell wonderful. A lot of herbs are perennials, and that was my main focus this year. However, my favorite herb is an annual – basil.
One of the things I love about basil is that it comes in lots of different types. I prefer some of the milder flavors (not a huge fan of thai basil, for example). This year, I got variegated, purple, lemon, sweet, and African blue. They each have their own distinctive flavor, and are pretty much my favorite thing for cooking everything. Also, I learned this summer that rubbing a fresh basil leaf (well, the oil from the a fresh basil leaf) on a mosquito bite will stop the itching entirely almost immediately. Brilliant.
The washtub is one I have had for years, and I wish that I had about a dozen more. It’s sturdy, and the handles make it fairly easy to move about, even when it is full of dirt and heavy.
Because I was planting a fairly shallow-rooted plant in the tub, I filled about half of it with straw, and then put dirt on top of that. You can also use old leaves or lawn clippings. Basil roots aren’t going to grow much past the halfway point of the pot depth anyway, so there is no sense using all that extra soil when a different filler will work just as well. Plus, you’re already composting for next year!
I bought Tom this awesome alligator at a local greenhouse. It’s moved around the garden quite a bit (in true alligator fashion) and for some reason just makes me happy every time I see it.
Because the side garden is fenced in and right outside our kitchen door, it turns out that that is where it’s easiest to take Waylon out. We have a small area at the bottom of the garden where he goes to relieve himself, but he frolics throughout the whole area, artlessly smashing all sorts of plants, and attempting to eat whatever he hasn’t smashed. (He actually loves basil – he doesn’t just chew on it, he actually eats it – by the mouthful!)
The point is, hostas are pretty toxic, and Waylon found the big, floppy leaves of this one completely irresistible. Plus, if I’m honest, it was just a bit in the way. It was an inherited plant, and while a beautiful one, didn’t really fit with everything else that was going on in the garden. So, we dug it up and moved it down under the mulberry tree where it has reestablished itself and is doing quite well.
We had some really, really nice weekends throughout May and early June, so we were able to get tons of stuff done. Here, we moved the picnic table from its winter shelter on the front porch to the flat area in the side garden. The kitchen door is to my left as I am taking the picture. Beyond the table is Waylon’s little private area behind the hibiscus bushes.
Underneath the front of the garden is an old cistern. It’s actually pretty big, and our eventual hope is to have a pump in it so we can use the water for plants and whatnot around the house. Our roof runoff drains into it. This is the before picture – Tom tore off the old decking you can see here and replaced it with treated lumber in preparation for eventually building an upper platform with a pump. The old wood was getting quite rotten and was a little scary, especially since the cistern is rather deep.
Also pictured: the water garden, which will be the subject of its own post; Waylon, thinking about digging again; my basil garden; our bright blue rock that we can’t get the paint off of (although we have diminished its brilliance with diligent sanding); and the alligator, looking as though its head has been severed by my trowel.
While replacing the decking on the cistern, we made sure Waylon was locked securely in the house. That dog would have fallen in for sure.
The cistern itself appears to be in good shape and is completely full of water, probably because it hasn’t been used in years. Our roof catches quite a lot of water – one whole side of the roof drains into this cistern.
Here is the same area after a weekend of very hard work – new decking, new path, and freshly weeded!
When hiking in areas where blazes aren’t used, rock cairns are common trail markers. Tom and I built our own home cairn, since all our trails lead here. 🙂
Incidentally, we need to practice, as our cairn has fallen over several times. 😀
We have tried planting watermelons several times, but they are a favorite of marauding groundhogs and rabbits. This year, we decided to put them in a large tub and keep them in our fenced-in garden. Of course, now we have to worry about crazy Waylon nomming them instead.
Oh wait, did I already mention that basil is my favorite? As you can see, it’s growing quite well.
Believe it or not, I actually did plant a lot of other herbs… I just don’t seem to photograph them as regularly! I have several varieties of sage and thyme, plus oregano, winter savory, rue, parsley, lavender, bee balm, and rosemary. There are also coneflowers, daisies, nasturtiums, violets, baby’s breath, and lamb’s ear, plus other odds and ends that I have picked up off the clearance rack at Lowe’s!
Overall, everything is doing pretty well. As of today (6/27/15), we have gotten about 6-10″ of rain in the last two weeks. Honestly, the garden is a bit out of control – everything is growing like crazy, and it’s hard to find time to weed between the rain showers!
Here is the garden in pretty decent shape before the monsoon started. I love everything about this garden. You have no idea.
While it has been a lot of work to get stuff in the ground, and it definitely is going to need some maintenance as well, I am overall just super pleased with what is happening in this side yard, especially compared to what it looked like when we moved in – full of ugly shrubs and cat poop.
Almost everything I have planted this year is a perennial, so hopefully at least some of it will get well enough established to overwinter and reappear next year. We’ll see what happens!!!