At the end of last week, I called someone who was offering gardening supplies for free on CL. After a short conversation, we both agreed that none of what she had was what I needed. Then she mentioned she had a lot of perennials that I was welcome to since she’s moving away, and told me to call her back in the beginning of this week when things quieted down. So I did!
Today I went over with a couple of the kids, and we got a bunch of nice plants -free -to add to the garden. The woman herself was so nice – you could tell she loves gardening and said she was glad to give her plants to people who would enjoy them. We got a lot of strawberry plants – we got home when it was dark so we haven’t transplanted them yet. Anyway, I’ll count how many we have when we transplant them, but it’s a lot. I also got lemon balm (smells amazing! and also good for tea), mint (I think it’s spearmint, but not sure – my mint in a pot is alive but hasn’t thrived this year – also good for tea and upset stomachs), St. John’s wort (chosen because I prefer plants that are dual purpose, and this is medicinal), and bee balm (I don’t know if it has a medicinal value or not, but it attracts bees and butterflies, which are beneficial to the garden). There were many other plants I could have taken but I’m not interested in flowers that only look pretty.
In addition to that, I got a nice sized agave cactus/aloe plant, a few pots of columbine, and a huge amount of scarlet cockscomb. I got these just because they were so pretty and thought they’d look nice in the yard, and put them in front of the front porch. We had three blueberry bushes there, but I had ds10 move them to a different part of the yard a week and a half ago (the area I’ve named ‘the orchard’ because of my plans for it – a little presumptuous for a small side yard, but the kids like the sound of it! :)). I was planning to make a small raised garden bed in front and fill it with ornamental edible greens, but the space is now taken by ornamental non edible cockscomb instead. I planted most of the cockscomb after I got home, thinking that it was easier to plant them in the coolness of the evening than do it in the heat tomorrow. It was a lot of work, and they’re such beautiful plants -I hope they’ll transplant successfully.
But I still have everything else to plant tomorrow morning! When we took apart the platform deck to replace it with a brick patio, I saved the wood. When we built that deck, I got all of the supporting boards free from someone who had taken his deck apart, and we used a high quality plywood for the top. With the boards, we’ve so far built three new raised beds (each 9′ x 3′ 2″), and hopefully will make a fourth in the next day or two (I need to buy just one more board – I have one the right length, but it’s a little narrower than the others and I’d like them all to be identical and uniform). I have more plans for repurposing the plywood – any guesses?? But we have to finish this patio/garden work before starting another project. Those four beds are going in my backyard, right where the mountain of dirt from digging the patio is, near where my first raised beds were built last summer. It’s fun to keep finding more and more way to fit more in – my ds16 was commenting that it seems strange, but even though our yard has so much more in it, it feels bigger now.
It’s been a lot of work to fill the new raised beds with that dirt, since the mountain was in the way of being able to put the empty boxes in. But three raised beds are full now. I was planning to get composted manure to add to the soil in the new beds to boost the soil strength, but the person I got some from a few months ago said the new batch isn’t yet composted and to call him back in a month. Of course I could go buy compost but that’s not going to happen. We compost all of our kitchen scraps, sometimes putting them in the compost tumbler, but in the summer, we’ve been keeping it very simple. We either bury it deep in an empty part of a raised bed or pile it on top of the area surrounding the garden plants. In the latter case, what I did was cover the soil with a flattened cardboard box to act as a mulch, put the scraps on top, and take a couple of shovels of dirt from the mountain to cover it. That’s pretty much my daily way to do it now that the weather is so warm. I’m hoping that once we fill all the new raised beds, we can add the rest of the dirt to the soil of the lasagna beds in back. Right now it’s a little challenging since the plants are in the way, though. Once we can do that, they’ll be higher, more like raised beds, and we won’t have to make yet another trip to the dump to get rid of all the dirt!