AT LAST MY MASTERPIECE IS COMPLETE.
Hi there, dear readers. It’s been awhile. But that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening here at the Casa Fickbonne. Far from it! Since our last thrilling installment, the Mr. and I have hung prints on the walls, found the perfect giant leather chair on Craigslist, almost finished renovating the bathroom,* and–of course–finished the garden! A man might say Mrs. Fickbonne has been too busy updating her house to actually update her house blog. A man would be right.**
It is now the end of May and the Bill J. Dunn Memorial Garden is fully operational! The Mr. whipped up the second and third garden beds in no time flat, choosing to make them out of redwood rather than cedar (same weather-resistant qualities, a little easier on the wallet) and building them above ground before packing their corner posts into their holes. Not that that’s something I suggested he do in the first place. Of course not.
Strider supervised the carpentry closely. But his diligence turned out to be an elaborate ruse meant to distract us from his true purpose: stealing the box of deck screws. My dog is so obsessed with cardboard boxes that he won’t even wait for them to be empty before making off with them and ripping them to shreds.
Once all three frames were complete, we dug some holes to anchor the corner posts and stuck ’em in the ground. Now for the fun*** part: filling the beds with compost. This involved a lot of shoveling and hauling. I decided to try a technique called “lasagna composting” this year. Basically, it’s a fancy way of saying I layered different kinds of compost in the garden bed for maximum plant nutrition and fertilization. Why? FOR SCIENCE. You can find a pretty good explanation of lasagna composing here.
For my garden, I started by breaking up the top soil and then layering shredded cardboard on top. Strider was kind enough to oblige me by shredding large amounts of cardboard for this purpose. The cardboard will get wet and soft before slowly breaking apart, and it’ll help keep weeds from sneaking up through the compost and sprouting on top. After the cardboard I layered:
- dried leaves and grass clippings
- compost from the back corner of the yard (courtesy of our house’s previous owner)
- kitchen scraps (mostly fruits, veggies, and coffee grounds)
- Miracle Grow garden soil
Since we only moved in in September, I only had a few months worth of kitchen scraps to work with. Some of it had already broken down nicely, while some of it was still recognizably food. That’s why I finished off with the Miracle Grow garden soil, since it would look pretty and not attract critters. After the beds were filled, they looked like this:
Have you ever seen such a beautiful sight? But I didn’t stop there. I knew that I’d need to create shade for some of my plants and climbing space for others. So why not combine both? I built an A-frame out of some scrap wood and twine and placed it in the first bed. Underneath the A-frame I planted my shade-loving lettuce. Along the sides of the A-frame I planted the cucumbers and sugar snap peas, both of which tend to spread out as their vines grow. When the peas and cucumbers grow, they’ll climb up the twine of the A-frame, effectively creating a natural sunshade for the lettuce underneath.
I know. I, too, think I’m a genius.
As previously mentioned, I had to wait until mid-May to transplant all the seedlings I’d grown in the basement to avoid the last chance of snowfall. And sure enough, on Mother’s Day we had a crazy freak snowstorm (because Colorado, that’s why). So a week later, on a glorious sunny morning, I brought all the surviving seedlings outside and lovingly installed them in their new homes. I then planted seeds as well, just in case the baby plants decided to revolt.
An hour later the clouds moved in. And then the rain. Then the freezing rain and the wind. And they didn’t leave for a whole week. Almost all of my baby plants died in this hostile attack. Left standing were a few radishes, the two squash plants, and the mature tomato and pepper plants, all of whom looked rather the worse for wear.
But yesterday the first of the seeds sprouted (spinach, lettuce, and radishes). So hope remains while the company is true!**** Here’s what the garden looks like now:
Pretty sure Grandpa would call that “Not half bad.” Which is good enough for me!
*I’m saving the bathroom renovation for a big before-and-after post. So no spoilers yet!
**In the game of home improvement blogs, you make Game of Thrones references as often as possible or you die boring and alone.
***By which I mean the not-fun, very-labor-intensive part.
****Also Lord of the Rings references. Duh.