In my ornamental garden it is the placement of trees and foundational plants that we call the 'bones' of the garden. They are those elements that remain. No matter the season or the hardships encountered it is the 'bones' of the garden that give it structure and form. If chosen correctly these fundamental players of the garden are what we work around to create places of interest with forms, textures, colors, and size variances that please our senses.
When I initially created my edible garden by removing lawn and starting with two framed boxes it felt as though it was completely "separate" from the rest of the garden. A lone corner all by itself.
As I expanded it, the next season, I purposed to carry out the same principle of good 'bones' in the edible garden. Even the thought of it just 'felt' better. Like it was a more natural way to garden.
Here's how that works for me.
This is the edible garden today taking up the entire side yard with no turf grass remaining. It is completely enclosed by a chain-linked fence. Yes, it's ugly. But it does serve to keep out some of the critters like armadillos and pea fowl roaming the neighborhood. The fence is covered entirely by confederate jasmine vine. This further serves as a wind-break on bad weather days.
Surrounding the perimeter of the garden are perennials and ornamentals. Some of them are in containers and are placed to further the draw of pollinators and to just look pretty. These are the bones ~ because they remain. Not necessarily all at the same time but no matter the season there are plants appealing to the senses.
The entire length of the exterior edging is bordered with bulbine, society garlic, or variegated aztec grass. Each of these blooms and at different times/seasons and each of them is cold hardy/drought resistant which means they are always there even when the vegetable beds are empty and resting. The edging is the bones.
Mid-late summer is when my edible garden rests. Most of it anyway. There are only herbs of oregano, parsley, fennel, chives, mint, rosemary, and basil (barely hanging on) growing. Two (indeterminate- black cherry) tomato plants are defying the odds of summer in an Earthbox (in partial shade).
Gone are the weeds. Finally. With a bit of effort.
A fresh layer of organics including mushroom compost, my compost, and new potting soil have been added to each bed. Mixed in with that is bone meal, blood meal and alfalfa pellets.
I do this in July when the spring garden is spent which gives it about 6 weeks for all this to "cook" before my fall garden is planted.
My Troy-Bilt chipper shredder comes in so handy all year long. Last week when the edible garden was all cleaned up I made some nice fine-mulch to cover all the beds while it sleeps.
Collected sticks and limbs and some bags of oak leaves all processed for use in the edible garden and elsewhere.
The two cedar framed/raised beds remain in the back corner of the garden. I've chosen to hill-up the other 4 beds into a rectangular/oval-ish shape. The center is a swale of sorts allowing for irrigation/rain to seep into the root system of the edibles.
It's a beautiful thing. The interiors (swale) of the beds are mulched with pine needles while the 'hills' are mulched with the finely shredded leaves and limbs.
No matter the season the edible garden is never "just an edible garden". The low-maintenance bones keep it alive and active.
Side notes for my Florida friends:
Side notes for my Florida friends:
- Tomato seeds have been sown this week in 4" pots and placed in a partially shaded location to germinate. They will be transplanted to the ground in September.
- Newly planted (direct sown)okra seeds have emerged and eggplant seeds are sown but not emerged.
- Heirloom rattlesnake pole beans are hanging on the vine to dry. This will provide next season's pole beans.
- September will be the month I get my tomato seedlings in the ground and seeds of squash, bush beans, collards, and carrots and brassicas.
- October follows with seeds of lettuces, spinach, radish, kale, and snap peas.
- November is for succession planting.
The fall edible garden can be tricky ~~ according to weather. Last year October was as hot (but dry with NO rain) as August and I had to re-seed everything. Then we had early freezes in December which made the whole schedule upside down. You never know. But the point is to keep trying. We keep learning from our successes and our failures.
What are you growing?