April 18, 2011

Progress in the Herb Garden

Last month I told you about the problems I was having in designing our front yard herb gardens. This month, I have a little bit of progress to show you. I ordered quite a few more herb seeds, and had a small sprouting tray in action, so the task at hand was to make another herb bed. For the new bed, Dan decided to try a modified double dug, Hugelkultur type approach.

The "double" (removing two layers of soil) will help loosen the clay under the top soil. Hugelkultur makes use of our wealth of tree limbs and branches.

On top of a layer of small branches, he added a good layer of mostly decomposed compost, and then covered it all with the removed soil.

While he did that, I weeded and bordered the two beds we made last year. I've never been real keen on bricks as borders, but we have a ton of them from tearing down the chimney and fireplace! Sure beats having to buy anything, so I'm deciding I like those bricks better than I thought.

Since I have perennials already established in these beds, I raked back the wood chip mulch, pulled pesky weeds, and applied a layer of dried comfrey leaves on top of the soil. Then I raked the mulch back over the top.

The paths in between the beds will give me fits this summer, I know. We made them a lawnmower width, but grass and weeds will grow right next to the bricks, where the mower can't get them. Eventually we need to do something about this, but with so many other projects on the list, it will be awhile before the paths become a priority.

I actually took these photos a couple weeks ago, and am just now getting the post written and ready to publish. I'm amazed at how much everything has been greened out since then. Last year's plantings are doing well and starting their spring growth: lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, yarrow, echinacea, hollyhock, butterfly weed, rudbeckia. I have high hopes this year's plantings will do as well.


NancyDe said...

It's going to be beautiful!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the link to Hugelkultur. It a neat idea.

Hubby and I think we are going to give this a try for our new raised beds. Now we just have to haul rotting logs from our forest. Sure would be nice to have a tractor!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I am adding some beds this year and have been considering the brick as a border also. I like the look of yours, so I think I might just do it. Thanks.

Theresa said...

Looks great and looking forward to some greened up pics!
How's the bouncing baby boy?

Mr. H. said...

I like the way you set up your herb garden and really like how you buried branches underneath the beds. This is something that I will have to remember to try in the future, what a great way to not only improve the soil but get rid of the branches.

Lynda said...

Your herb garden is wonderful! I just love having herbs in the garden. I've never heard of Hugelkultur...very interesting!

Renee Nefe said...

looks awesome!

DebbieB said...

Can't beat free bricks! Looking good.

I'm so excited - the DH bought plants and seeds and started our container veggie garden yesterday! It's small, and confined to our back patio, but it's a start. I just ordered a compost bin, and have started saving veggie peels and eggshells.

I took some pictures of the "babies" and am composing a blog post for later.

Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Jen said...

I think I might go crazy if I don't get to garden soon. I've been thinking about hugelkultur for awhile. We have a huge pile of branches that need to go away and under a bunch of soil is as good a place as any.

weavinfool said...

I bought a roll of a weed barrier cloth and put it under the gravel we have in our front path. It works well. It has been there for 20+ years and hasn't had to be replaced.
Over the years the leaves, etc that have fallen on it and broken down down to soil allow weeds to grow on top of it in the gravel, but when I get around to pulling them in the spring they come out easily because their roots are shallow because they can't get down past the cloth barrier.
You could put it down so it is under the bricks and weeding, if ever necessary, would be easy.

Judy said...

I'm curious about your rosemary. What gardening zone are you in? I have to worry about killing mine in the winter because I am in zone 6a.

Mama Pea said...

I like the looks of your brick border a lot but I know what you mean about weeds growing up against them. We have the same problem around all of our raised beds. We can get the lawn mower between the beds but have to use a weed whip to keep the weeds down that grow right up against the wood sides. It would be great to figure out a solution so we didn't have to do that because it takes a lot of time to weed whip around 27 beds!

Leigh said...

NancyDe, thank you!

Sharon, you're welcome. And I'm with you on having a tractor! We have lots of rotted logs/trees in our woods too but no way to haul them out!

Jane, thanks. I think what I don't care for is when the bricks are slanted and buried, to give a zigzag effect. Just personal preference I reckon.

Theresa, he's doing great! Leg is almost 100% normal. I've been taking photos for a goat update, probably on Wednesday.

Mike, thanks. I was delighted to learn about this as a way to utilize branches, and twigs. Our other option has been chipping them, but that's not our favorite option.

Lynda, thanks! Mostly these beds will be for perennials, though I'm thinking of potting some to put in with the veggies.

Renee thanks!

Debbie, now that is exciting! Sounds like you all have a great start on your gardening/homesteading journey. I'm looking forward to that blog post!

Limette, I love the way you put it, LOL. Those piles of branches might as well be doing something useful, eh?

Weavinfool, I didn't have very good luck with weed barrier cloth. Mine, with its 15 year warranty, had weeds poking up through it the first year. And that was with a 4 or 5 inch layer of wood chip mulch! Still, the concept is good. I just may need a better quality or 5 layers of cardboard, LOL.

Judy, I'm in zone 7b, and I confess I was worried about the rosemary too. The instructions that came with it said it could withstand temps down to 20F, but we got lots of nights in the teens. I didn't cover it but it survived! Whew, I'm very thankful for that because last year I discovered how tasty it is in pizza sauce.

Mama Pea, it's a pain, isn't it. I'd like to plant something like a dwarf thyme in the paths, maybe with stepping stones. That's a whole lot of work though, and probably won't happen this year!

DebbieB said...

Blog post is up now, Leigh, with pictures of my new babies. :) And my first bug (quickly squished, of course)!

luckybunny said...

Looks great, you got a lot accomplished! It's been snowing here :( I really like your setup.

bspinner said...

I'm sure your herb garden will be beautiful. We worked on ours today too. Much smaller than our last one but that's ok less to take care of. I need to see what's made it over the winter and go to our local market to buy some annuals. I love herbs too.

Anonymous said...

It's looking good! I'm excited to plant lots of herbs too :)

Sharon said...

If I could type in green I would. I so envy you and your greeness. I know it will be green here one day. What you're developing is absolutely lovely.

m said...

That looks great. We used the Hugelkultur approach when we made the three raised vegetable beds in our garden some 10+ years ago. Just wish we had sifted the soil more, as we are always taking pebbles out of them.

Leigh said...

Debbie your new container garden (and your yarn!) look great!

Donna, oh my, more snow! Doesn't sound like you'll be in the garden yet.

Barb, I hope so. Plain empty beds are pretty boring, but color makes all the difference in the world. I know you must enjoy working in yours too!

Renee, it is fun isn't it? Both perennials and annuals. I love how annuals can fill in the bare spots without being permanent. :)

Sharon, green is coming your way, LOL. Of course, the high desert has it's own magnificent colors. :)

Mary, it's funny that it took Hugelkultur so long to get over here. Or maybe I say that because I'm just learning about it, LOL. Good point about sifting, although actually, I worry about the pebbles created by the clay in our soil. If it isn't worked finely enough, then the little (or big) lumps dry out and become hard as rocks!

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of Hugelkultur - thanks for the link. It looks interesting, but I think there might be lots of pillbugs the way they make the beds with logs.

chris said...

it's going to be beautiful. i love the old bricks, reminds me of my childhood in the chicago suburbs. they were commonly used this way back then.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Lots of work going on at your place! I can't wait to see your gardens in full bloom!

Love the baby goat! My nieces friends have a goat farm and have birthed about 25 baby goats! You can check out the link on my side bar, it's Fox's Pride.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful week!

DebbieB said...

Oh, you changed your blog banner picture - love the encounter between Riley and the Kid!

Penny said...

You could make a mowing strip by laying a flat row of bricks at ground level along the brick border. The mower's tires would travel along the mowing strip and eliminate the need to trim.


I have 2 dump truck loads of old bricks that came from the top of the original Carnegie part of my local Library. I've gradually been trying to use them in my landscape but so far the majority of them are still piled in my driveway. =(

Leigh said...

Evelyn, and not only pill bugs, but others as well! My hope is that by burying them so deep, they won't be a problem!

Chris, thanks for that! I grew up in the Chicago suburbs as well, so maybe that's why the beds have a comfortable feel to them. :)

Mary, me too! Thanks for the link. Baby goat pix are always fun.

Debbie thanks!

Penny, now that's an idea, thaks so much for the link! I would love another dump truck load or two of old bricks, now that I'm getting going on those beds. :)

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh it looks so good! We love to garden!