SPRING: A TIME TO TAKE STOCK OF GARDEN PROJECTS TO COME

Happy spring!

In preparation for the first day of spring, we spent some time over the weekend walking through our still partially snow covered yard taking an assessment of what needs doing this year.

The creek that runs under this little bridge and it's twin a bit farther east  ranges from a trickle to a gully washer  at various times during the year.
At the top of the list is replacing the bridges Mr. Much More Patient built over the creek the year we bought the house 15 years ago. He used cedar for the boards but they seem to have fared no better than the pressure treated structural timbers over the year. The whole enchilada is rotting. I don't think we can complain as they've lasted a decade and a half and it will be a good excuse to make them a little wider. Not only does my two-wheel wheelbarrow barely fit on it (and it has careened off the side on more than one occasion), but there is a very small chance we may have a garden tour at the house next year and I'd like the bridges to be a touch wider for guests just in case.

The boards on top just lift up and you can see that there's rot in the structural bits too.

I also took the time to make a few notes about areas of the garden that I'd like to do some rearranging in, particularly in the sunny part of the garden north of the house. This has been the default garden for things I'm dividing or don't know where to plant, but I'm feeling the need to do a little fixing up in that area.

While walking to that garden we looked up and noticed the the chimney has mortar falling out all over the place again. We love that chimney but it has serious issues. We've had two people out over the  years to fix it. The first one was OK but sloppy. The second one, I think, actually lied about even going up there to do anything. So now we find ourselves having to find a mason and I'd like to get that done sooner rather than later because they always trash the garden.

If you look closely, you can see that the beds are bulging pretty badly. When we built it we sunk eight 4x4 cedar posts in the ground so we thought it would maintain its shape, but that's not been the case. In retrospect we should have added strapping to keep the beds from bulging. You can see the metal brackets on the front corner that are temporary measures to hold it together this year.
The bridges aren't the only thing rotting in our yard. The main raised bed garden is completely falling apart. We knew this would happen. We built it using cedar posts and untreated pine. In its eighth year, the pine boards are bowing terribly and rotting everywhere. The ones on the north end have crumbled. What we didn't expect was that the cedar 4x4 posts have also rotted. Is cedar not like cedar used to be? It seems like it's failing quickly.

The north side of the garden is in the worst shape. Not only are the boards rotten, but the posts they are screwed in to are as well. 

The solution is a patch job. We've bought some corner brackets to hold it together and we'll have to replace the boards on the north end with something. Even scrap wood would be OK. Mr. Much More Patient has some plan to get the screws to bite into the rotten posts.

The reason we're not doing a proper fix is that I'm very excited to report that the plan is for a complete redo of the veggie area next year. The dream of a potager is one I've been trying to shake for a few years but it just won't go away. So my plan is a new set of raised beds, room on the edges for growing fruit, a large fence around the entire thing and a small seating area to soak up the sun in the center. On the rough sketch I have there is also a faint dotted line on the back of the fenced-in area that says "Future greenhouse." I should be so lucky, but it doesn't hurt to have a plan just in case.

This is also the time of year when I make notes for future plantings. I stuck a few sticks here and there around the garden to represent possible locations for trees, which helps me visualize the location from various spots inside, as well as judge the amount of sunlight an area gets throughout the day, something I'm generally terrible at (optimism make me see sun that's sometimes not there).

These are difficult days for a gardener. There is a lot of pent-up desire to garden but no ability to do so. This kind of planning helps. In fact, maybe gardening is like proms and parties in that sometimes the anticipation is even better than the main event. 

5 comments :

  1. I think we replaced the boards on our bridge three times in 22 years. Though at least one time we used cool boards that were not really appropriate so we knew it was a long shot. I am terrible about deciding how much sun an area has. I am now generally just considering the whole garden a shade garden since many shade plants can take a good amount of sun but not the other way around. I used big stakes to try out spots for trees and looking at them from inside etc. It's a really worthwhile thing to do. Our pond needs cleaning but we have planted the areas where we used to throw the muck so we need a new plan. I spent the day cutting back Hellebore leaves. Given the size of the bag of leaves I must be crazy to be buying more of them but I am a sucker for them. It is so nice to see big flowers so early in the year. So exciting a time of year and such a long to do list!

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  2. The reality of wooden garden structures -- it all goes to rot in the end! Thanks for sharing :)

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  3. I think 15 years is a good amount of time for cedar especially the bridge since it is in water quite a bit. Our minds give cedar a much longer tenure. Ahhh yes, I love this time of year when anything in the garden is possible. It all looks so good on paper or in our minds. Love that anticipation of a good project or party. Happy spring...

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  4. I am a little warmer than you in zone 7A, partly B. I will be starting lettuce, potatoes and kale this weekend outside. I have nearly 100 seedlings going inside too. Like you I would love a greenhouse. And also like you, i feel that inner glee you get when you can finally get your fingers in the dirt. Thanks for your blog, it helps get me through the winter. Happy Spring!

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  5. I love your idea of using a big stick for deciding on a tree location…duh! How have I never tried that! I love your line about "pent-up desire" and no ability to do so. Here in northern NE we usually have an April blizzard or two so you can't let the tease of spring make you jump the gun on things. The planning is always so exciting though. I have been planning my long flower trough plantings along my patio and searched back through your blog for ideas from Mackinac Island. If only mine looked that lush! Thanks for sharing all the "real things" about gardening that some books and magazines make look so easy.

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