The good news: Almost everything will likely come back after the dead is pruned away. Waiting to prune requires patience. Maybe more than I have. Our days are so mild and beautifully sunny it is hard to imagine a better time to go ahead and get rid of all that ugly brown.
So this week I concentrated all my efforts in the vegetable garden. It was time to dismantle and rebuild all at once.
The pole beans were completely ruined by the frost. Along with the green beans, they were pulled out of the bed and the stakes and trellises removed. Only the carrots, radishes, leeks, peppers, and tomatoes were left. With a shovel I tilled up the soil in one framed bed, added some mushroom compost, blood meal, and blood bone. That bed is ready to be planted out. A few herbs have been added but I will wait a week or so to plant some seeds of lettuce, radish, and more carrots.
You may remember - just before the freeze - grass was dug out with a plan to expand the vegetable garden. As a side note: some of you will be happy to know that in spite of the black withered leaves on the top 4 feet of the pink fire spike there is lots of green on the bottom 2 or so feet. Even a few blooms are peeking through from underneath. And two smaller fire spike I had started from cuttings were just fine.
Where was I? Yes, grass was dug out and 2 yards of good dirt was brought in to amend the existing lay out. When it was decided that additional wood-framed beds were not in the budget after all, I determined to section off areas and raise the soil. Each section making its own raised bed for planting. Four additional areas have been added and delineated by flagstone stepping stones. These permanent paths will serve as, well, just that... walkways between the beds. They will help me (and others hopefully) to stay off the planted out soil so as not to compact it.
I'll use wood planks on the temporary paths for harvesting in between rows.
It is my goal to mix in as many flowers and herbs as possible interspersed with the vegetables. We are off to a good start. I've bordered the entire area with variegated liriope and society garlic alternately ---all from plants divided from my existing garden. These will serve as a permanent border just like I design my landscape beds.
Behind the border I've planted ground covers and annuals/perennials where the raised beds slope down and even out to the grass edge. These will help hold the water from run off.
The main idea here is to draw in as many beneficial bugs and critters as possible to help control unwanted bugs in the garden. I've been reading Sally Jean Cunningham's Great Garden Companions for so much good information about this concept. The challenge for me is adapting her ideas to my Zone 10 garden as she gardens in New York where conditions are quite different.
Here's what I've planted so far:
Lysimachia Procumbens – Golden Globes
Ostica Blue Eye
Bell Peppers- started from seed last autumn
Cubanelle Peppers - also started from seed last autumn
Tomatoes - some still in the ground from autumn
Due to the peacock situation I've been forced to start seeds in small pots on the back porch of more tomatoes and some wildflowers. I'm waiting until about the fourth week of February (hoping the peacocks will be long gone by then) before I direct sow squash, zucchini, pole beans, green beans and okra. Next week I'll direct sow into the framed bed more lettuces, carrots, and radishes... they like it cool.
Sally Jean Cunningham's methodology of intensively planting each area and mixing vegetables, flowers and herbs fits so nicely with my natural tendency in the garden. One thing I've really liked is the freedom she gives to break away from planting in perfect rows.
In reading her book I've found I instinctively garden much the way she describes in her book. But the nitty-gritty facts and long time experience she freely offers has been a wealth of information I have been devouring. Incorporating her knowledge into what feels right for me has been very helpful!
I'll write more later on what I've learned and how I've incorporated it into my garden. I'm still trying to figure out crop rotation, which vegetables like which herbs, which vegetables build soil and which ones use up more nutrients and how all that works together in the garden. Very exciting stuff. All the while it is every ounce pretty!
All this gardening activity is certainly helping take away the sting of incurring so much damage that occured in just a few hours of freezing temperatures.
I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.