My sister and I finally moved the first weekend in May. While some of our stuff remains at our old place, we are gradually shifting everything over to the new place or storing yard sale items at our old place until Memorial Day. We were barely in the house a day and I was already digging up one of the two beds. It took three days, but all of the weeds in the left bed were removed with prejudice (I include in the "weeds" category items that are not technically weeds but a huge nuisance in PA - spring onions).
My backyard is a little small about 30'x25' in size. On the left side there is a bed that extends almost the entire length of the yard before curving in front of a detached garage and ending at the walkway. The section of the left bed that is in front of the garage is largely un-plantable as it contains a Persimmon Tree and an Asian Pear. I might be able to get some spinach under it (or some other shade liking vegetable or fruit), but at this point I'm giving up the several feet I would have gained. The left bed is fortunately about three feet wide and almost thirty feet long so there is plenty of planting space.
The right bed extends from the house alongside the path past the garage. About half of the bed is fairly well maintained ground cover, two trees, and a rose bush and will not be touched. The rest, closer to the house, is a gangly weed/ground cover/spring onion mess and will be entirely ripped out.
While in the past few years I have stuck to container garden due to lack of space, I quickly and admantently have become a proponent of square foot gardening. I didn't build a raised bed like recommended or use the "Mel Mix." What I did do is enrich the soil with compost and composted manure and plant according to square foot spacing. The soil in my area is generally pretty rich, but I planted some heavy feeders that I plan on treating with compost and a lovely mixture known as compost tea every 2-3 weeks or so.
I planted some plants that require extra sprawl space or trellising. I choosed trellising and went with a commerical type of trellising known as Florida Weave or Basket Weave. What this essentially means is creating a post line where the end posts are a heavy type of post (think wooded stakes or metal t-posts) and the middle posts are a lighter but sturdy plastic or thinner wood (such as wooden ties or bamboo rods). The plants are planted between the posts and then sturdy twine is woven between the plants and the posts about every 6-8 inches on the plant. Since I have plants that will become quite heavy I added a heavy post every 8 plants.
Here is a basic diagram:
[Heavy Post] Plant Plant [Light Post] Plant Plant [Heavy Post]
The weave is wrapped around the post once or twice, then strung straight across the front of the plants to the next post where it is wrapped twice then across the front of the plants, then wrapped twice around the last post. Once you wrap around the last post you then string along the back of the plants repeating the wraps around the post. At the last post you tie it off tightly, effectively "trapping" the plants between a line of twine on both sides.
I placed the Florida Weave in the middle of my left bed and buttressed the plants that needed the weave with different plants on both ends. On the near side of the left bed I constructed a "teepee" for plants that need something to climb but don't need to be heavily trellised.
The left bed contains the following plants:
- Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpea
- Tall Telephone Garden Pea
- Snow Bird Snap Peas
- Yellow Wax Bean
Florida Weave Trellising
- Sun Gold
- Black Krim
- Mr. Stripey
- Yellow Pear
- Black Cherry Pearl
- Purple Uk Tomato (2)
- Bush Beefsteak
- Mortgage Lifter
- Purple Beauty
- Chocolate Beauty
- Bell Boy
- Golden Bell
- Burpless Bush (2)
- Marketmore (2)
Non-Trellised Plants - Far End of Left Bed
- Chantenay Red Core carrots
- Atomic Red Carrot
- Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach
In the past I usually stuck with tomatoes, peas, and radishes, all of which are fairly easy to grow. I stayed with this tradition planting things that are relatively easy to grow and only need well drained soil, steady watering, mulching, and the occasional compost. Cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes I purchased as seedlings (except for the Purple UK (2) and Bush Beefsteak (1) that my neighbor and landlord gave me as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.
I adore cow peas and am very excited for this patch to come in. The remainder peas/beans I have really no experience with. Last year I planted a different type of snap pea (which turned out marvelous). They are really only for me and my sister's baby. My sister is still on the slow route to admitting she likes peas and beans (as she ravenously devours bean filled chili...I know).
Last few years I have planted the following tomatoes with wild success: Mr. Stripey (gorgeous color and mild/sweet flavor) and Black Krim (beautiful purple/black/green color and a wonderful almost salty taste). I have always heard wonderful stories about Yellow Pear and I was intrigued by the idea of a Black Cherry tomato. Mortage lifter I planted for the story. Brandywine is an immensely popular heirloom tomato in my region so I figured I'd give it a shot, but not conviced it could turn me away from the Black Krim and Mr. Stripey.
Like the rest of my plants, the pepper, spinach, and carrots I planted for easy and for color. Really...who is going to turn down a purple/black bell pepper?
As for the right bed, it's a little smaller, about 1.5 feet wide and about 20 feet long. I still have to rip up weeds which to me includes the spring onions, some easter lilies, and ugly ground cover ivy things. In its place will be another bean/pea teepee and a lot of sunflowers - Taiyo and Harry Wilde Sunflowers to be specific. Stayed tuned for Part 2 when I lay out the right bed and include pictures.
Here is a picture of the left bed as it is right now.