Monday, August 13, 2012

Herb Garden - The Plan

The herb garden isn't exactly a new project for us. I suppose I should refer to this as the herb garden expansion and re-organization, since that is basically what we are doing. Right now we have a 9' x 10' section planted in herbs and peppers, and another 9' x 10' section planted in flowers. Our plan for next year is to expand the herb garden to 9' x 41' with an additional 1' by 16' section in front of the porch planted in sun flowers.

Andrea has been working on  layout for the herb garden, and deciding which plants we will plant there. Over the weekend she drew up a diagram, which I then replicated as a, fairly crude, digital image. A copy of the image is available here, for anyone who would like to see it.

Since the herb garden is so large, we need a way to walk through it without compacting the soil. This year we had a simple stone path through the middle, but Andrea wants to try something new next year. She plans to use large rocks, spaced at out intervals to create stepping stones and provide an area to kneel on when working in a particular section. The rocks will take up close to half of the available space, so the bed isn't quite as big as the dimensions make it seem. There are also a couple of other items that we must work around, including the electric pole and central air unit.

The plan calls for 23 different herbs and flowers. I suspect that we'll be adding at least one more to that list, as we noticed that parsley was missing from the current plan. A couple of items not in the herb garden will be planted elsewhere, including basil, which will be planted in the garden, and comfrey. The plants that Andrea has chosen were picked either for their culinary or medicinal uses, or, in the case of a couple of the flowers, as a means of attracting humming birds to the garden. We already have a healthy humming bird population, thanks to the humming bird feeder on the front porch. By adding flowers to the herb garden that they are attracted to we hope they will aid in pollination.

We have several tasks ahead of us to get the herb garden ready for next spring. We currently have a fence around approximately 30' of the herb garden. We plan, however, to fence the entire 41' in, which means we need to redo the fencing around the entire garden. We also need to block off one end of the porch, to keep Jack from jumping off of the porch into the fenced in area. We plan to block it off with something that can be used as a trellis.

In addition to the fence and trellis, we need do some soil building of the area. The first 10' is in good shape, as we previously composted rabbit manure and straw in that section. The second 10' has nice crumbly soil, but it is lacking in nutrients and organic matter. The soil that we used in that section had been used previously in containers we tried gardening in our first year here. I'm not sure what we will apply to this section. I'd like to apply manure if we can get it in sufficient quantities. The third 10' section is the section I recently covered with cardboard and straw. My goal is to apply manure on top, then cover with another layer of straw. The last section has not been treated at all. We need to put down some cardboard to kill the weeds, then apply a layer of manure and straw. Of course this all depends on us having access to manure, so we need to start looking for that soon.

Once we have the soil building process in progress we need to start locating rock and laying out the stepping stones. Andrea hopes to use large rocks as much as possible, as the areas they need to cover are at least 2' x 2'. I'm sure that in a few areas we'll have to resort to combining smaller rocks, however. There is a pile of large rock that I need to sort through, but I want to wait until Winter to do this, when the risk running into snakes is gone.

The last piece of the plan is to acquire the seeds to be planted. Andrea has already began taking inventory of what she already has, and making lists so she knows what to be on the lookout for. She expects to start some seedlings inside by mid-winter, but that still gives us 5 months to locate the seeds that we want to plant.

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