month 2 - September 2007
Many of the perennials and starts brought from the old property were bedded in Cedar Grove compost. This organic compost is produced from scraps collected from school lunch leftovers in 3 local school districts, combined with area yard debris, and composted in a high tech facility here in WA.
While many of the beds were started as lasagna beds, individual plants were planted using commercial compost since the beds would not be ready for several months. The lasagna method of composting is also called sheet composting. In this method compost materials are layered directly in a planting bed, often directly over grass.
Here you can see a combination of lasagna bedding, using 10 - 12 sheeets of newspaper (or cardboard) with wood chips, grass clippings, leaves and other organic material, and organic commercial compost. The material decomposes and is ready for planting within 6 - 12 months. This is a great choice if you are looking to build raised beds without pulling sod.
The front beds were established right over the existing lawn by placing cardboard and or newspaper over the lawn and adding layers of composting material to build up the beds.
Working with the Existing Landscape
One challenge was the large trailer pad next to the garage. The soil was compacted and covered with 1/8 minus gravel. Wait until you see how we finally converted this area!
Here you can see the patchy, can we call it a lawn? And empty beds awaiting soil amendment and planting . . .
The trickiest plant to move - the native milkweed. Milkweed can take up to 2 years to establish a root system before you see any top growth. The root will go down several feet. Because of this deep rooting it has an 80% transplant failure rate. This milkweed was from the Monarch Society, we got it two years ago -
So, much of the first two months was just prepping beds and getting the plants in the ground - as fall approached and the weather began to change we established "nursery strips" or beds in which the plants would spend the winter. We also geared up composting and researched our options for mulch.