It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’d love to say that it’s because the garden is in such abundance that I can’t tear myself away! I can’t say that. Sadly, I am learning many lessons this year on our first spring/summer on the homestead. First, it’s a few degrees cooler here than our last place – that may not seem like it would have much bearing but it truly does. Second, we have actually had quite a chilly spring in the Portland metro area and here it is, July 8th, and I am seriously contemplating putting on a sweater! And third, the garden predators are different and I was caught unawares. The birds! The damn birds have been liberating my garden of all of their lovely seedlings. Jerks! But I digress, the real reason for this post is to give an update on my no till/lasagna beds. They work quite well but we have made some important adjustments so I will explain what those are and why they were needed.
The first realization came once the grass started growing really aggressively in spring – our grass is very thick and grows at an alarming rate! It became clear that the grass was not happy about being sacrificed to the garden and wanted to take it back. We kept the edges well mowed but it became more and more difficult to keep the grass at bay. We needed a barrier to keep the grass out and the dirt in. We considered building wood frames around the beds but honestly, after only about 5-6 years at the last house the wood was about to need replacing. I didn’t want to have to replace the wood frames constantly so we looked at cinder block. While it may have been a bit more expensive up front, I believe it’s worth it in the long run. 3 Pallets of cinder blocks were able to be delivered to within feet of the beds for just about $400. To me, totally worth it.
We honestly should have done this before starting the beds but it was all an experiment, you know? Live and learn. So they are a bit uneven in places because the beds were already planted when we put the blocks in so we had to kind of gingerly frame the beds without disturbing the goods growing within. We cut strips of cardboard to put around the beds, and the blocks went on top of the cardboard to try to keep the weeds down.
A weed whacker does the trick to keep the surrounding areas nice and trim. I tried planting marigolds and various other plants in the holes of the cinder block only to realize that the holes dry out pretty fast so unless you are watering them often not much will grow.
This was done about a month and a half ago now and the beds are currently doing quite well. I should mention that this is where we have the things that don’t need as much attention – the potatoes, corn, brussels sprouts, drying beans, garlic/onions, etc. The kitchen garden is closer to the house and ready to undergo a big expansion! As we harvest crops from the beds we will be adding more dirt to them now that we have frames to keep the dirt in place! Oh yeah, another 5 yards of compost mix was ordered. The investment this year was not small, but we shouldn’t have to do too much more in the coming years – now we are reaping the return!