For the past few years, the garden has rested. Due to other construction projects on the farm, the garden was not maintained. The beds lined with gopher wire and river rocks were invaded by gophers because after a few years, the wire rusts. At this point, we decided to redo the garden and let it go to seed with wild flowers and native weeds. In 2017, most of the river rocks were removed and used in the perennial garden. Also, in winter, Iris bulbs were removed from the beds and transplanted in locations that were not going to be dug up.
We knew we wanted raised planter beds lined with heavy duty hardware wire. An idea came that we should use black locust trees on the property. We had already used locust stumps to line the perennial garden beds and build the garden fence. Black locusts had fallen during the winter storms, so we saved every part of the trees (trunks, chips, limbs and branches).
The branches and limbs were moved into the garden for building the beds:
In January 2017, the garden with weeds and rusted gopher wire:
Starting in March, after the heavy rains stopped, I began to pull weeds, remove wire, and level the area. With only one person working on weekends, the process was extremely slow. I decided to seek help and hired a local, young farm hand named Will Burke who is permaculture certified. He has great ideas and will be helping on the farm.
After his help on Saturday, April 22, 2017, about 1/3 of the garden was cleared.
On Saturday, April 29, Will and I continued to remove weeds, old metal pipes, and river rocks to clear the area. Will wanted to build an insect condo, so he moved old logs from the horse/goat corral and drilled holes to make a place for insects to live. We’ll check in a few weeks to see if it’s working. We are going to experiment with raised planting beds, known in permaculture as hugelkultur. We are starting next week.
On Saturday, May 6, 2017, we built our first Hugelkultur mound using rotten wood, horse manure, branches, hay, and compost. All the materials were located on site. To read more about the process, visit the page on Hugelkultur. It turned out great, and the size fits nicely in the garden.
On Friday, May 12, 2017, I picked up 120 clay pipes because I wanted to use them for an insect habitat under the garden deck as well as garden borders. Time to get creative! On Saturday, May 13, 2017, we created a new planting bed border. To learn more, please visit Clay Pipe Planter Bed.
After 2017 clearing the garden and setting up boarder spaces with the clay tubes, Will and I continued to build planter builds using the black locust tree limbs. It took time because trees had to be available, and fortunately, some fell on our neighbor’s property and they also let me cut some down.
To see our progress month by month, visit: Black Locust Planter Beds
Not only did we haul the branches and build the beds, we dug out the soil from the walkways and sheet mulched before adding thick layers of wood chips. We layed the hardware wire, and Will filled in every bed with composted horse manure.
In March, 2018, Will and I also created an herb spiral. It was another wonderful opportunity to use up materials laying around, such as wood and rocks. To see our design process, visit: Herb Spiral
From May – July 2018, a Potting Bench was built in the garden, and the edge was bordered with black locust stumps.
An electrical line was run for an outlet to add lights along the fences for outdoor lighting.
Once the redesign was finished, we have enjoyed using the space. I turned the Redwood Greenhouse into my bee workshop for storing hives and materials. Bee Haven, the bee zone, was decorated with a sink arbor and improved with a retaining wall and gravel walkway to keep the bees healthy.
In spring 2019, we grafted the heirloom apple trees (Hauer Pippin and Yellow Bellflower) to plant them on the hillside and expand the Heritage Orchard. Over half the grafts took thanks to the expertise of Forest Dale.
The garden just continues to flourish. We made sure to plant a lot more flowers and perennials in the garden for the bees. We even had a pruning expert, Andie, from Mountain Feed and Farm in Ben Lomond come teach me how to espalier the two pear trees we planted in 2016. The garden is pure joy!
One last project was the icing on the cake, but it also never ends with the love of landscape design and farm art. In late November, 2019, an Eclectic Garden Fence was built using rustic farm tools and colorfully painted spindles. I felt that something artistic should be added to the left side of the garden to mimic Bee Haven.
In spring 2020, we continue to plant perennials, graft branches onto the apple root stock, and nourish the soil with worm castings…. Happy Planting!