This was a very exciting weekend for me as I was able to finish the next phase of the Medicine Wheel garden. If you recall, last summer my neighbor simply rotatilled a small area and I created the garden straight into the ground using mulch to mark the pattern and paths. Click here to see last year’s Medicine Wheel garden.
This year, I had the time and budget to create the first row of raised beds. I used 2″x10″x8′ untreated spruce lumber. (As this is an organic garden I avoided pressure treated lumber as it is impregnated with chemicals.) I pre-cut the wood and later B came over and helped me cut out the angles and assemble the boxes.
I had some extra chicken wire laying around so I tacked a piece under each box to keep the pocket gophers from stealing my root vegetables.
Then we arranged the boxes into a circle. You can see the location of last year’s garden in the background. I like the new location as it is closer to the cabin and is close to the water supply.
We laid newspaper and landscaping cloth in the paths and middle section to keep the weeds out, and filled each box with a mixture of dried leaves, sand, compost, peat and topsoil. I will be adding casings from my vermiculture (worm bin) later to boost the soil even more.
Then we spread mulch over the landscaping cloth. This was where we stopped last weekend.
Yesterday evening, I got to work disassembling the fence around the old garden and moving the fence posts to the new location. It was a treat to see a Pileated woodpecker working on a tree nearby and then fly right over me. I call them the ‘punk rockers’ of the wood pecker family.
Then early this morning, Lucy and I awoke to a large coyote checking out the new garden! I let her out to chase it away. Later, after our morning walk and breakfast, I added a final round of newspaper and landscaping cloth around the outer edge of the wheel and covered all of the cloth with more mulch. Then I wrapped the fencing around the posts and secured it with wire. I left a few extra feet to wrap around the end as a makeshift gate. I didn’t get too fancy with the fence as it will be dismantled and rebuilt again next spring in order to make room for the second row of raised beds.
I planted the potatoes (red and Yukon gold), onions (red, white, yellow and shallots) and garlic. The fun part was transplanted all of the plants that I had bought previously straight into the raised beds; including tomatoes, green and red cabbage, broccoli, kohl rabi, brussel sprouts, red peppers and jalapeno peppers, cauliflower, leeks, northern lights Swiss chard, kale, anise, chervil, dill, fennel, curly and Italian parsley, and marigolds for both color and to keep pests away. So already, things are growing in the garden! I also have celery and two types of red lettuce but I will have to try and fit those somewhere else.
Note the VHS video tape that I tied onto the garden fence (below). This tape is very effective in keeping wild animals (including birds) out of your garden as it rustles and moves in the slightest breeze. Also, because it’s shiny it reflects light which also makes the animals uneasy. I recommend taking it down every fall and replacing it with fresh tape every spring. Unfortunately, you will be picking up the odd bit of tape after heavy winds but it is truly worth it, knowing that a deer or rabbit is capable of eating everything in this garden within 30 minutes. It also helps that I have Lucy, as wild animals tend to avoid areas where they detect the scent of a dog.
I tied pie tins and other noise makers to the posts. The also reflect light and when the wind blows they bang against the metal and make random noises, again keeping the wild animals at a distance.
It’s been a few longs days but the garden is now planted and safely fenced. I still have a few things to find room for and will be adding a few more large pots for the center area for summer squash. I am going to have to be creative in finding room for the winter squash, cucumbers, beets, beans and peas. Next year, the second row of raised beds will double my planting space but until then I will make do with what I have.
I look forward to sharing the garden with you as it grows over the summer as well as all of the scrumptious cooking and preserving I will be doing with the harvest. For now, its a glass of wine and a hot salt bath for me! Cheers everyone… and may you enjoy your own gardens this season!