Primary Earth-friendly Gardening Tenents:

*Tolerate minimal damage to plants and lawn from pests. *Build and maintain healthy soil by using compost and natural soil amendments. *Use chemicals as a last resort. *Use native plants when possible. They are adapted to the climate, soil and area pests. *Attract Beneficial Insects to increase pollination and decrease harmful pests. *Conserve water by using responsible watering methods.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Entering Year 3 in Zone 5

HWe are now entering our 3rd gardening season in zone 5.

The first year, 2012, was primarily spent removing invasive species, clearing rotted timbers, planning flow and soil building. We had a small vegetable garden and established blueberries and strawberries.

2013 was a building year. We added fruit trees and built up the habitat space with pollinator plants and berries. The vegetable garden was larger and the composite site was fully operational.

Inspired by the Chicago Flower & Garden Show we walked out this morning to assess the winter damage and look at spacing for a few new ideas. The bitter cold drove us back inside very quickly. This has been a harsh winter and we feel the difference 3 zones make. As friends in Portland post photos of their garden and discuss their new projects we are still covered with snow.

We are still waiting to see what has survived the winter. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

pathway flow and planning

After demolishing the old, decaying ramp style stairs we added a pathway from the garage to the back deck. There had not been any pathway connecting the sidewalk along the yard to the back driveway, or the deck stairs. This view shows the old patio space, which was also pulled out and salvaged. 
We used sand from the old patio to level the new pathway.
And I chose a broad 2 ft square river rock paver to set the pathway. The style blends well with river rock areas for transition.
Salvaged brick was used for setting the step down.
The photo above shows the transition connecting the driveway entrance to the back deck entry to the house, the sidewalk and the new patio space.

The pavers were set and sanded in before the last of the patio space was removed.
Next, the patio space was converted to garden space. The new kitchen garden was placed in the area with the most traffic flow to the kitchen.
Topsoil and compost was brought in to build up the beds.

Above is a view from the driveway.
A oomplete transformation from an unused patio space to usable garden space.

This final picture shows the transition space between the back deck, patio and kitchen garden. The area now flows from both the back driveway and the pathway along the house.

Monday, April 8, 2013

kitchen garden

"Oak eat-in kitchen," it really is as hideous as it sounds, and I haven't even told you about the counter tops.

So, where does this connect to a garden journal. Well, most garden harvest first enters through the kitchen, whether it be edible or decorative.

I would like better access directly into the kitchen. There is a kitchen door to the east side of the house, but there is little to no yard on that side. The kitchen garden is on the west side and entry is through the mudroom.

When I zoned the garden I plotted the kitchen garden closest to the main pathway to the house and the closest entry to the kitchen.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Edible Garden, Bed Preparation

Last weekend I prepared the edible garden beds for planting. I extended the current beds to double the row space, and moved the blue berry bushes.

We are awaiting a bid for a garden fence. I am quite excited for the project. The local Lowe's store sent out a project specialist to pull together all of our ideas. The full project will include a small deck, privacy fencing, a pergola and and arbor gate. Having a useable outdoor living space is a priority for us.

Our lot is long and narrow, but very usable. The kitchen garden is off the back door near the kitchen, and the patio and fire pit areas work with the dining room and living room. Similar to our first garden project, this plan will break the space down into "rooms."

This year I set up potato cages, rather than putting potato in a row. I have also rotated the crops in the garden plan following the leaf-root-flower-fruit method. There are still a few items that will wait for later, asparagus and the home orchard. We have an area cleared by the tree removal last spring that will become the home orchard area.

Now, we wait for the weather to signal a go!

Zone 5 Blues

I am feeling the zone 5 blues today. I miss my gardens and plants from zone 8, some of my favorites will not make it here in Michiana.

I have spent many an hour paging through seed, perennial and native plant catalogs trying to wrap my brain around this new zone challenge. Just a few hours south and Indianspolis can brag zone 6. What a difference a zone makes.

Coming from an area rich with nurseries my first challenge was to locate a good nursery. Unfortunately, I have watched several independent nurseries close their doors since we landed here in Northern Indiana. I have had good luck with Bluestone Perennials and I plan to try Prairie Nursery this year for natives. Both involve shipping plants, something very new to me.

Spring is late this year, night time temperatures are still dipping into the 20s. This weekend teases days creeping toward the 60s and night time temps hovering around 40. A month tardy the crocus and daffodils are pushing through, with tulips not far behind.