Thursday, September 24, 2015

Raised Beds

In our neighborhood, there are small plots of land across from each yard that the city owns. When David first moved in, he noticed that some of our neighbors had claimed the land and made gardens. David had big plans for what he wanted to do with the space.

Empty plot of land across from our house.

He wanted to make four raised beds. The second year he was in the house, David tackled the project. First he had to clear out all of the weeds that had taken over. Then he built the beds from scratch with some pressure treated wood. Later he realized that Home Depot sells kits which would have been much easier, but at least by building them himself he was able to make the beds the exact size he wanted. David built four walls and reinforced the corners with four inch posts.

Frames of the boxes.

David added weed barrier and newspaper to the bottom of the boxes in hopes that it would save us some trouble later on.

Laying weed barrier. 

After the boxes were created, we realized that they were quite large and it was going to take a lot of dirt to fill them.

All of the dirt needed to fill the boxes. 

Car riding low from the weight. 

Never-ending hole. 

 Eventually, David finished all four boxes and filled them up with dirt.

Boxes completed. 

In addition to the boxes needing a lot of dirt, it was going to take a lot of flowers to fill them which would require time and money. The first two years the boxes were pretty much just growing weeds. The weed barrier did not work out too well because lots of plants got through.

David added some slate in between the boxes for aesthetics and to keep the weeds at bay. This has somewhat worked. Weeds grow like crazy in between the boxes but not so much on the areas where there is slate.

No plants to fill the boxes :/

It wasn't until this year that we actually planted stuff in the boxes. I tried planting some old flower seeds in pots, grew them on my roof and transplanted them in the boxes. I'm not sure why, but they grew as vines. Maybe I was just growing weeds. So I ended up ripping these out.

Transplanting flowers.

In July, we bought some dying flowers from Home Depot on a big discount. I would recommend this as we were able to nurse the flowers back to life and now have nice, plentiful perennials for a fraction of the cost.

Flowers all planted. 

Home Depot flowers in the back and vines in the front. 

One challenge with the boxes is that they attract young children. We would notice children sitting on the boxes and jumping from box to box. I would come home from work and see my flowers crushed in the shape of a foot print. I guess I have turned into one of those old curmudgeons that yells at kids to stay off their lawn...except I am too shy to do that. So instead, I had David put up a small fence to deter kids which seemed to do the trick. 

Purple flowers have come back to life. 

After ripping out the vines, we replaced them with some small red and yellow flowers. The flowers have really taken off. The back boxes don't have as many flowers, but hopefully next year we can fill them up. One step at a time!

End of summer, flowers flourishing. 

Although this land is not technically ours, I don't think anyone would mind us taking an over-grown jungle and making it into a nice garden for all passerby's to enjoy.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Garden Update

Well hello mid-September! I dropped the ball on blogging in August (and the beginning of September), partly because we weren't home much and partly because David was recovering and taking it easy on house projects. The end of August marked my one year anniversary of living in Hampden (and being married). We've come a long way on our list of house projects and are starting to make a dent. I wonder if there will ever be a day when we don't have any changes that we want to make to the house...I doubt it, an old house always needs work.

Our first walk in Hampden as husband and wife, back
when the garden wasn't looking so hot.

As summertime comes to an end, we are trying to wrap up all of the projects that we started before the craziness of this summer. I finally have the garden looking how I imagined. Early in the spring, our garden just had some boxwoods bushes from last year and lavender plants that we added this year.  The lavender plants weren't blooming and I read that they probably wouldn't bloom for a while, so we decided to add some flowers because the garden was looking bare and lacking color.

The garden looking bare with boxwoods and lavender. 

I added flowers in three stages. I kept going back to the store to buy more because it just didn't seem like enough. Because I didn't get all of the flowers in one go, I had to mix it up a bit.  The yellow, pink and red flowers which are called celosia are my favorite, but I couldn't find them in the store after the first time I bought them.

Adding color to the garden.

Celosia flowers.

We also added more boxwoods bushes as well. A few of the bushes that didn't survive the winter were replaced and we added in a few more where there were empty spaces. We decided to get some bigger bushes for the small boxes in our garden. We ended up spending a lot of money on all of the plants....landscaping is expensive! But I'm, hoping that next year we will only have to add some flowers.

Big Boxwood added.

I had finally gotten the garden to where I wanted it to be only to discover that one of the celosia flowers and it's roots had been pulled out. This was disheartening as I had invested a lot of time and money into the garden. At first I thought this might be the doing of a Hampden Hoodlum because the way that the flower was pulled out looked like it was done by a human and nothing seemed to have been eaten. Then it happened again a few days later with a different celosia flower. So that led me to believe it is an animal that is attracted to this specific plant. I tried replanting the flowers back in the ground but the trauma of being ripped out caused the flower to wilt.

We set up our security camera to try to find the culprit but were unsuccessful. I was thinking the attacker was a rat, but it happened during the day so I ruled them out. My next conclusion was a squirrel but I really don't see many in the city. Perhaps a bird? When I planted the flowers, I added some plant food, so I'm wondering if that's what the flower destroyer was after. Eventually all of the celosia plants were pulled and died off, so I added a small red flower that looks a little out of place, but fills the gap.

We caught this image on the security cam, leading us to believe it was indeed Big Bird.

After the celosia died, I added another red flower.

One thing I didn't realize about flowers is that they grow both up and out. I did not expect the flowers to multiply so much in width. My garden is now full of flowers. Some of the lavender died off for reasons unknown, but others really took off. I think we accidentally picked up two different types of lavender because some are a couple of feet taller than others. I will probably trim the tall lavender because I don't care for it to be so tall.

Tall lavender.
It's getting a little crowded.

Since only the boxwoods and lavender are perennials, we will have to add some more flowers next year. However, I think planting two or three flowers in the springtime will do the trick. Our hope is that the garden becomes less work each year but continues to flourish.