It feels odd to “reveal” a space that’s been unfolding in front of your eyes on this blog for a year now, but the vegetable garden is finally at a place where almost everything but the gardening bit is finished.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be left only with the task of planting in this beautiful space. Like just about every project I do, I underestimated the time it would take to create this area. I was only off by about a year. I seriously thought it would look like this last year at this time. In fact, a year ago it looked more like this.
My friend Eric over on Gardenfork has a saying: “Done is better than perfect.” It is a fabulous motto and one I ought to embrace more in my life, but this whole project was driven by seeking perfection. Any non-perfect bits you see are a reflection of just being too exhausted to get it there, rather than a conscious decision to stop striving for the vision that’s been in my head for years.
You already know the story of most of this space. We started by having the area leveled, then laid out the beds with an exhaustive series of measurements and a web of line (that we tripped over 1,000 times minimum). Unlike almost any other space in my garden or my life, it was all about symmetry. Then we built 12 sturdy garden beds. Then they were protected with a wood stabilizer and stained.
I was able to plant in the beds last year, but the space was not nice to be in. The ground was still mud, and a bunch of line stretched between poles served as a temporary (although incredibly effective) deer fence.
We had the landscaper who had leveled the area come back and dig out the dirt between the beds after we tried for a day to do it ourselves and made very little progress. From there we laid down compacted paver base followed by decorative stone chips.
This spring was spent hemming and hawing about what color to paint the custom gate, and, within the last two weeks we stained the rest of the fence and painted and hung the gate. I also created a small entranceway with reclaimed bluestone (here’s a video I did on that process).
We should probably pause here to make a note of the gate color since many people were so generous in sharing their ideas about it. I ended up going with Valspar’s Nocturnal Green after seeing it on Jenny Komenda’s flip. It’s a deep, dark green, just a hair away from black, with a nod towards a dark teal. Once the ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ roses planted at the entrance grow a bit, I think it will all come together very nicely.
I’ve since started planting in the in-ground fruit beds that extend along each side. Again symmetry is the name of the game, so everything is repeated on each side. One side is now home to a ‘Liberty’ apple (chosen for its disease resistance), and the other has a ‘Bartlet’ pear (suggested as the best pollinator for the Asian pear we have by the chimney). I’ve also planted dwarf thornless raspberries and the start of espalier currants (thanks to Lee Reich) for the idea.
I’ll be planting ground cherries here for the first time and possibly strawberries. I’ve got future plans for the beds at the back of the garden but for now they are just mulched.
I had to top up the soil in (most of) the beds; it never ceases to amaze me how much soil in raised beds compresses in the first few years. And, other than the few things already growing: garlic planted in fall, onions grown from seed, a mesclun mix, peas and tulips and sweet peas in the flower beds, I officially have a blank slate.
In other words, all that’s left is the planting.
Included in that planting plan is the stock tank in the center where I’ll be attempting a container pond. I have no real idea what I’m doing. Hijinx will undoubtedly ensue.
I can’t wait to take you along on the journey.