January 26, 2019

January Garden Projects

January has continued with our exceptionally rainy trend (another 6.8" so far), and up until the full moon, the daytime temps have been mild and pleasant. Since then it's gotten cold and not so much fun to work outdoors. But I took advantage of those nice days and got quite a bit accomplished in the garden.

My flooded hugelkulture swale bed finally drained so I could finish filling the swale and mulch it with leaves.

We will border it when Dan can take
a break from working on the carport.

I had hoped to dig a few more of these beds, but since the ground is still too wet for digging I decided to work on another project I had in mind - the outside edge of the hoophouse.

It's been a weedy mess for a couple of years now. Instead, I'd like to plant something there that could use the hoop house as a trellis. For that, I built a narrow bed.

I didn't dig a swale here, just built it from the ground up. I used random landscape timbers we had laying about and filled the bed with layers of weeds, topsoil, leaves, partially decomposed wood chips, cardboard, hardwood ashes, and compost. I topped it off with a thick layer of leaf mulch.

Ready for something that would appreciate a trellis.

I tucked cardboard under the timbers and topped that with wood chips. Hopefully, this will keep the edges of this bed weed free. I'll finish the other side of the aisle after I do something with last summer's okra bed. That's where I plan to dig my next hugelkultur swale bed.

Future hugelkultur swale bed.

Of course, that will have to wait until the ground isn't saturated like a wet sponge. I don't mind transplanting in the mud, however, and started with the strawberries.

I thought I lost my strawberries during the summer of 2016 because it was so hot and dry. Last fall Dan mentioned seeing several strawberry plants where one of the old strawberry beds used to be. I took a look and sure enough, there were a few survivor strawberry plants there, so I transplanted them into the hoop house. I thought there might be two or three plants but I found nine. We love strawberries so this is a new start!

Nine sleepy strawberry plants nestled in woodchip mulch in the hoop house.

I have also dug up my comfrey and baby garlic plants and moved them under some of our fruit trees.

The other project I had in mind for January is cleaning up the asparagus bed.

I took this photo in December.

It has been a mess! It's hard to see them, but there really are asparagus plants growing within the yellow outline. Like the strawberries, they are survivor plants because asparagus is something else I thought I'd lost. The problem? Wiregrass! Wiregrass is unwanted, unwelcome Bermuda. It's invasive and chokes out everything else. After transplanting my asparagus several times I finally gave up. This past summer I discovered several asparagus plants still hanging in there!

The odd thing about these plants is that they were growing where I didn't plant them. They came up in the downhill berm I made when I dug my first garden swale. The old cardboard you see in the photo above was put down after I finished that project two years ago. The berm was originally planted in clover, but wiregrass, blackberry brambles, and honeysuckle pretty much took over. We do like asparagus so I thought I'd give it another chance.

Rather than level out the berm I decided to terrace it.

Terraced, weeded, and being mulched.
Here's my "done" pic.

The old cardboard is still quite untidy, so I will probably mulch that as well. I'm just happy to have gotten so much accomplished this month.

 January Garden Projects © January 2019


Cockeyed Jo said...

Timely and this time you beat me in publishing. {G} We also are converting our hoop house greenhouse into a trellised bed.

Mama Pea said...

You got a HUGE amount done and should be very proud of the way your garden is shaping up. Confused a bit: Will the hoop house not have a covering anymore? Will the hoop trellis be used just for climbing plants now?

I planted edible podded peas at the base of a hoop we made over one of our raised beds and found the vines didn't want to climb on the curved wire but instead wanted to grow straight up toward the sky. I spent a lot of time tying the vines to the trellis last year. This year I'll try some other climbing plant and see if it makes a difference.

Leigh said...

Jo, I would be interested in how you came to that decision. I'm hoping it will keep the edge tidier and mean one less trellis to put up!

Mama Pea, it's been wonderful to work outdoors. I haven't covered the hoop house in two winters now. Most of our winter veggies seem to do well without the covering and I found watering to be an extra chore. I thought about getting a different type of covering and still might. Shade cloth in summer worked okay, but I found that my beds dried out too quickly from the heat, anyway, so this is another experiment!

Rose said...

Oh, my, you make me want to dig in the dirt...you have done a lot.

I used to work at a small apple orchard...2000 trees give or take a few. And at one point we went in business with another guy and had strawberries. The first year we planted 50 rows , 400 ft long each. Planted through plastic and since it was on sand, we had irrigation. Those were the good old days!

Leigh said...

Rose, it's wonderful to have the weather to do it! How wonderful to have a real orchard. Ours is just a few trees, but it's enough for us. It would be nice to have enough to trade or sell.

Sandy Livesay said...


You are just a busy beaver!!! Good work, I wish I had your energy. So much needs to be done. I'm having issues with red clay, and need to move my garden bed as well. What a nice surprise having strawberries coming back.


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Looks good.

We have unwanted grass here as well. I have two lone asparagus plants holding down the fort.

The Wykeham Observer said...

It's always fun when you find volunteer plants. Those might be some really good strawberries if they survived like they have. Good luck with the hugelkultur, I'm thinking of trying the same this year.

Leigh said...

Sandy, having mild weather really helps! But I admit to higher energy on some days than others. I pace myself accordingly. I figure it just comes with the territory.

TB, grasses seem to be real culprits! Always so tenacious. Do you get much from your asparagus plants?

Phil, I agree, and I'm always happy to find survivor volunteers. For me, the hugelkultur has worked very well. The swales are dug into our clay subsoil, which acts as a holding area for the rain. The hugelkultur materials help and the plants in these beds really do well.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I am glad some of your strawberries and asparagus survived. My strawberries (most) are in a raised bed with legs. We put plastic around the bottom and straw on the top. Really having a super cold spell this week so I hope they survive. We enjoyed them so much last year! I don't have asparagus at this place but at my last yard and I sure miss it. Nancy

Mark Shaw said...

You look so organised I keep jumping from one thing to another, maybe I need a list and start at the top finish that then go onto the next. I have dug our first veggie bed this week yippee.

Amy AKA The Hippy said...

Congratulations on all of your progress! It's so satisfying to complete things, isn't it? Most of my projects are indoors right now, as it's been so cold, frozen, and snow/ice covered outside. It's all we can do to go cut firewood! LOL Hope your week continues to be productive. *Hugs*

Leigh said...

Nancy, I hope your strawberries survive too! I never have to worry about cold tolerant species, just heat. Sounds like you took good steps to have strawberries to enjoy next summer.

Mark, you know what they say about looks, LOL. You've got an exciting time ahead of you because you are just getting started on with that particular piece of land. To me, that's the hardest part because there are always so many options. :)

Amy, your weather would be keeping me indoors too! LOL But I almost feel guilty working inside when there's so much to do outside. Thankful for the mild days. Who knows what next month will bring???

Ed said...

If the end of humananity comes, I know exactly how things will look like in a few short years.... very weedy!

Leigh said...

Ed, isn't it amazing how quickly they take over?!?!? And edibles usually have to be pampered! What a backward world we live in.

M.K. said...

Your beds look great! I thought it was too early to put stawberries out - I might wait a little while? Isn't it exciting to think of the veggies and fruit soon to be grown and eaten? Good work!