Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Planted this week: a door and more salad stuff

Don and the Door
Our biggest home improvement project this week was installing the new front door, plus a mud room door in the basement. Our neighbor Don provided an incredible amount of help with this. Doors look simple, but for sixty years our house has been settling, growing additions and accreting paint, resulting in a great many challenges fitting high-quality, regularly-shaped doors into locations that vary significantly in (A) the lengths of the sides, (B) the angles between them and (C) the angle of the faces of the sides..
Another day, Kris and I moved the frame of the small raised bed salvaged from the north neighbor's house (Scott & Dolores'; formerly Samantha's) to an angle in the north side of our house. This is a multifunction raised bed: it reduces the amount of lawn to mow; improves however slightly water management by replacing lawn with garden; improves the insulation of the bare cement wall (I figure four feet of dirt has to have *some* impact) and of course gives us a little more food in a few months.
Planted in the
New raised bed

Filling the raised bed with soil went in stages, since I didn't want to just go buy more dirt. First I laid in several inches
of branch trimmings from our trees; I know they'd decompose more quickly if I chipped them and mixed them into the compost, but then again, I'm not really in a hurry; if they last for a few years, perhaps they'll function as slow-release fertilizer. On top of that I tore some cardboard and newspapers, as I'd been assured they're o.k. as soil amendments. Then when about fix inches of dirt clods from the old raised beds ... not necessarily the best soil but o.k. for filling it up. On top, I put the last of the soil saved from last year's raised beds, mixed with some stuff from the compost heap. This layer had a lot of worms and pillbugs, so I think it's probably health enough to get the garden going, at least until the wee critters can get to work on the stuff lower down.
I seeded this with chard, lettuce, and fronded mustard greens. While that side of the house doesn't get a whole lot of sun, it seemed fine last year for lettuce in pots especially as summer wore on and the south side was too hot for them. I've already got four shallow pots of lettuce on the north side, and they'll be ready to harvest in a week or two.
When I plunked down the raised bed frame and added soil, I carefully left in place a pink-flowering plant that looks a little like soapwort but is probably just a weed. It's harmless and the little flowers are nice.
In addition to this seeding, I also transplanted more mint from the "armpit" to the front of the house. I also put in more time trimming dead branches from our trees in front. While I like the hawthornes very much, I supposed I shouldn't let them hang branches in the way of passing cars (...although I suppose that's one way to keep traffic slow.) The pine tree has a lot of deadwood to clear away; I've gotten most of it away from the powerline but there's one branch I may have to climb up to service. That can wait til the next weekend.
While most of my work is indoors, I'm happy to report that a little gardening every day is beginning to show results!

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