Learning new things in the garden a little at a time… & knowing you’re gonna go WAY past your initial investment if you don’t watch it.

I didn’t get too much done today–too much work outside the home and I was nodding off mid-day, so I napped through quite a bit of it. Bummed me out because I had plans, but sleep needs to happen, too. What little I did do happened in my garden, and as I let myself SLOWLY work and relax, more possibilities opened up.

My little seed greenhouses got too much water in them when I vented the zippered doors the past few days. I realized this when I tried to siphon some water from the bottom tray and the pods were totally saturated. Of course, the odd bright green spots on top of the soil helped tell me what I needed to know–that this was NOT normal plant growth, and certainly tomatoes didn’t look like that when they sprouted (or dill, or jalapenos, or whatever else I had). I didn’t have to toss out as much as I thought, but I did re-start some seeds this morning. I took my time with it and started a few new plants.

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I figured that with the amount of space under those a-frames, I could easily get another few species of veggies to produce (or take over in case another crop fails). So, I started up some broccoli, celery, cauliflower. It’s a bit hot to have them, but if they’re protected by the shade of the a-frames once the squashes take off, then it’ll help. I already have some irrigation set up under there, which will helpfully keep the soil moist and cool enough not to cook the plants.

More than that, I figured out something else with my little seedhouses. They’re in the wrong place.

Before I started my major concrete building campaign with the raised beds, I could definitely say the seed-starters were getting plenty of sun. The trouble is, as the sun changes position with the seasons, and the concrete and other structures are now blocking some of that light…yeah, it’s not working out quite so well to have them outside the fence and on the rocks that formed the drainage and weed-barrier for my old house. That’s the only reason those rocks were there, and they worked great. But they also helped warm up the ground the seed starters sat on, which helped germination.

I’d only had them back in their original position outside the fence a couple of weeks. I’d moved them inside the fenced off area so I could finish the fence (hard to attach the wire when you’re stepping around those seed starters). But they were in the way of my pepper plant area and hard to get around, so I moved them back once the fence was finished.

This move–and the notes in my notebook–made me realize something: the seeds did better on the asphalt than they were doing now. And I knew why–far more sun exposure. I’m sure the baking asphalt helped (and if I forgot to vent the seed houses, heaven help us because the poor seedlings might cook). I wanted to put the seed starters back, but that would take some time to work it out.

I took my off-and-on doze and when I went out again, I’d figured it out. It would involve moving my container plants and putting down more rock in those areas, enough to level it out and put the seedhouses there. I had the herbs in containers along the open line of fencing that had no beds on it, almost to the gate. The trouble is, I had to keep shifting them around because the uneven ground (which is why I didn’t extend the bed all the way to the corner).

I was in the process of breaking up one of the cedar beds I tried to do last year and took those boards to make a firm barrier to contain rocks against the wire fence. I cut out some weed barrier fabric, covered the ground from that troublesome corner all the way to the gate, and got the few bags of river rocks I’d bought a few weeks ago. They were supposed to be as a sort of barrier or filler to stop weeds and rodents between the wire fence and the concrete (and hold the dirt in place better in some sections), but the concrete eventually settled with the help of pea gravel and dirt, and the chicken wire helped set up a decent enough barrier from the rodents. So, I poured and spread that river rock over the barrier fabric and created a far better drained area that my seed houses could sit on. I barely got all the seed trays back under it before it really started to sprinkle.

All I had to figure out was the container herbs and what I was gonna do.

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My initial idea was to have them in two rows along the fence, the space I’d just covered with about 6 bags of river rocks, right next to each other. The one flush to the fence I’d planned to put on concrete blocks to elevate them and make it easier to reach around and check on them. Now that I think about it, it still would’ve made it tricky once the plants really started to spread and get bushy.

But when I took a look at my main space, I basically had 12 x 6 feet to play with in the middle of the “U” of beds. So, I moved the containers right smack in the middle, leaving 2 or 2 & 1/2 feet between the concrete and the containers. That would make access easy all around, and have just enough room to pull my little red wagon through in case I needed it to haul out something. And because of the asphalt that had been scraped and chopped up in places, I got some of my pea gravel to put down as the base under the containers to level it out.

All in all, I think I’m going to like this set-up a lot better. The seedlings will get quite adequate warmth, all the plants get just enough sun, and better yet, good drainage.

If it wasn’t for my impromptu naptime, my initial idea was to sketch out what i needed or wanted to try for the space between my porch and the garden fence. Moving those seed-houses created an interesting possibility: a river-rock path between. I’d just have to expand it and have it wrap around.

I’d love to have weed control between the house and the garden fence, because it’s so mushy and pitted and the weeds go crazy in this part of the yard. I’m glad I got my Sloggers shoes recently, because they’re the only thing I can wear around that doesn’t make my feet all soaked or make me slip on that slick half-covered mud.

I’m still in the planning stages, but I’ve had in mind that I want an area where I can get a border set up and just throw a bunch of seeds in there to create a butterfly and pollinator garden that I would just let grow all crazy. I have plenty of that flower seed mix to set out, but I have to really clean it up and level it a bit.

And it’s all mostly due to drainage. That’s the lowest spot, and filling it all totally in may mess with the gentle slope of the foundation. Also, the area where the water hits most because of rain falling off the carport is digging a hole to China. I plan to level that off (maybe even put concrete blocks there) and put a rain barrel there. It would be in one of the best rain draining spots for sure, and could help stop the erosion.

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I just have to measure the best area, see how much sand and topsoil I could put in there, take those barrier bricks away from my crepe myrtles and use them as the border, and of course, what to do around that.

I originally wanted to do some paving stones or something, but considering my leveling abilities with concrete bricks, maybe not. But if I could level it out enough, landscape fabric and rocks would do well (and allow for water to be absorbed and drained away–I could just see the paving stones shifting all around because of sand and clay erosion. Not to mention, I’d probably mess up the foundation pad of my house if I tried too hard to make a nice flat path. River rocks are heavy enough to stay in place, and maybe some kind of barrier to stop them being thrown in case of my weed-eater (which I’ll have to use next to the house anyway).

It’ll be fun calculating how many bags of rocks I’d have to buy, or if I should just get a dump truck full–NOT! But it all first depends on how much I need to fill in the space in the middle and have it reasonably leveled out, or keep it lower than the pathway around it so it can serve as the main drainage area. As long as it doesn’t drown the flowers… but that’s where the river rock around can help.

Amazing how I started really figuring this today, and how much more workable it’s going to be if only I am going to work on it. Paving stones were gonna be pretty, but a pain in the butt because there’s no way I could get very far doing it myself. I flirted with the idea for months, but I don’t think I can do it.

So, time to go sleep on it and draw it up in the morning. Hope there’s room in the budget for all that rock (yikes!).

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