Deuce Cities Henhouse

Gardening Basics : Installing a Garden Bed


I’m back to share with you today my method for adding garden beds to my yard. When I moved into my house there were absolutely no garden beds – I mean none! I’ve installed and planted all the gardens on my own over the last 4 years. I’ve gotten pretty familiar with installing garden beds and have a bit of a standard routine I use. I wanted to share it with you guys. I know when I started gardening I had no idea what I was doing, and it took a lot of trial and error to “figure” it out, I’m still learning. Sometimes not knowing how to initiate a new project can be debilitating, especially when it comes to first-time gardening. I hope some of this info can give a few of the confidence to try it out on your own. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

1
Determine the Shape of Your Garden
I usually spend a lot of time planning and determining the shape of my gardens. It usually starts with a sketch on a piece of paper and after thinking about it for awhile, maybe even weeks, I’ll start to lay it out in real life. I’ve had a general plan for this garden for over two years, you need a plan before you start. Then you need to really visualize it – what do I have that’s long and flexible and works as a good visual representative? Well a hose of course. Yes, I usually layout all my plans with my trusty garden hose. If a hose isn’t your thing, try a little spray paint.
2
Dig out a Trench around the Border
Once I finalize my layout and plans for the garden, the next step is to dig out the border. To do this I highly recommend investing about $15 into a manual lawn edger or even better, and ice scraper. I find that using tools like this allows for precision edges and nice even 90º trenches. I will leave my hose in place while I do this, moving it to the side as I cut out a border with my ice scraper.

3
Remove Grass and Weeds
This is the not so fun part, the part that everyone tries to avoid. Let me tell you though, if you want to have a garden that produces healthy plants, you’ll want to take the time to remove the grass, weeds and roots from the garden bed. To do this I like to use a spade or shovel. Dig shallowly into the grass loosening the roots from the soil. Pick up the grass piece and shake excess dirt from the roots. Discard the grass. Continue to do this making sure to remove of any debris, roots and rocks that you don’t want in your garden bed.
TIP
To spare your yard from getting dirty, lay down a plastic tarp to collect the sod you’re removing from the garden bed. If you have bare spots in other parts of your lawn reuse the grass and fill in the bare areas, just make sure to water daily.

 

4
Rotate, Amend and Grade the Soil
Great, you made it through the hardest part. You know have a nice clean bed of soil! Good for you. If you’re planning on adding plants to your new bed I would recommend amending the soil with compost or manure to give your new plants nutrients. If your soil is clay-like consider adding some peat moss to help with drainage. Combine the new soil with the old using a shovel to rotate it. Turning it over and mixing it in multiple times. If you have a large area that you are transforming consider renting a rototiller for this job. Lastly, you’ll want to grade the soil. For this garden I mounded my soil slightly in the center and then graded it downwards towards the trenched edges.

5
Install the Edging
This is where your garden will really start to take shape. I was working with a beer budget so I went ahead and used plastic tube edging for my garden. I like using black tube edging because it looks decent, it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s standard and works, it keeps the mulch in when it rains, and it makes mowing easy. Black tube edging is inexpensive, about $16 for 20 feet and installs very easily. If I ever choose to upgrade my edging down the road it’s easy to remove and replace as well.

To install it use your lawn edger or ice scraper to clean out the trenches, making sure to level the sides of the garden creating a 90º or “V” angle to the lawn. Unroll the edging and install in short sections (apprx 12″). Hold the edging in place while backfilling with dirt or topsoil. The soil will hold the edging in place. The edging comes with stakes, but I never use them – a proper backfill always seems to do the job. Continue down the edge of your garden adding edging and backfilling while you go. When you reach the end use a hacksaw or garden shears to cut the edging to the desired length.

Types of Edging:

WOOD : Landscape timbers and railroad ties are popular, but installation requires more effort.
METAL : Gives a modern look.
PLASTIC : Available in rolls and easy to install.
STONE, BRICK or CONCRETE : Lends itself to a tidy and formal appearance but requires time installing and can often be expensive.
LIVING : Use living plants such as mondo grass, dusty miller or other seasonal annuals.
NATURAL : Cut a trench into the sod and mulch.

6
Lay Down Weed Barrier and Tuck in the Edges
Typically I don’t use weed barriers, I find that weeds are something that just go with the territory. If you are a dedicated weeder the less weeds you will have overtime, especially if you remove weeds from your beds before they go to seed. I am always reorganizing and fine tuning my gardens, with a weed barrier I’d have to cut through it every time I rearranged my garden. It’s more of a hassle than it’s worth, plus the results aren’t guaranteed.

However, for this garden I knew that I wasn’t going to be planting anything alongside the edges of my raised beds. I was only going to be mulching so I decided to try something new, newspaper. There was grass growing around each raised bed, and instead of digging it out, I turned it over with my shovel and then covered it with thick layers of newspaper. A few of you recommend this approach to me when I was planning my garden, so I decided to give it a whirl. I wetted down stacks of newspaper with my garden hose and then laid them around my raised beds. I kept the sections thick using at least 10 layers per section. After I laid out the paper I used my ice scraper to carefully tuck the paper into the edges of the raised beds and the plastic edging.

Types of Weed Barriers:

NATURAL BARRIER : Thick layers of straw, peat moss, mulch, compost or other organic materials
HOMEMADE BARRIER : Using what you have around your house, items include newspaper, plastic garbage bags, and cardboard.
FABRICS : Weed barriers sold at garden centers do a good job of blocking out light and the black color mimics the color of soil. They also reduce soil moisture.
PLASTICS : Plastic weed barriers are usually the most effective – an excellent choice for long term well planned garden beds, but often more expensive.

7
Add Mulch on Top of the Weed Barrier
Assuming you’ve gone ahead and planted your garden, you’ll want to cover your weed barrier and protect your new plants with a good hefty layer of mulch. I covered mine with my old fav, Scott’s black mulch.


Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to help. If I don’t have the right answer I’m sure someone else will. Good luck!

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in gardening, Outdoor, Tutorial

The Side Garden

Raised Bed Side Garden
Hey buddies! I’ve been working my butt off the last few days, trying hard to finish my latest gardening adventure. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was on a mission to make the veggie gardens pretty, I didn’t want them to look like they were just plopped down on the side of my house. My plan was to frame out the gardens with a tailored bed of mulch that followed the lines of our house. Easier said then done. In order to do this I needed to remove some of the grass, amend the soil, install a border, add mulch, recess stepping stones, and top it off with some new plants.

I’ll be sharing some tips and my process for installing garden beds in tomorrows post.

Progress is slow on the side garden
This side garden has been the low-man on the gardening totem pole. Over the last few years, I’ve been focused on the backyard and boulevard garden beds. Those gardens are all looking pretty good these days, and I finally had the time to give a little love to the side garden.

In Minneapolis it is typical to have houses butt up to one edge of a city log, allowing just enough room for a small walkway on that side of the house. Because of this, there is often more space on the other side of the house for a small, but useable side yard. This is exactly the case in our situation.

In 2012 the kids and I built our first small veggie garden on the side of the house. When I planned the original garden I imaged that someday we’d add another veggie garden or flower bed constructing something that would give the side yard purpose and relation to the rest of the yard. This year I followed through adding the second veggie garden and now finishing it off by framing it out with a new border and a smidgen of extra planting space.

Raised Bed Side Garden
I added a small flower bed at the front of the garden. It was here that I needed to remove the existing grass and amend the soil with compost so that the new perennials would have the best shot at a good and happy plant life. I was also able to add to new perennials to the garden. I love peonies and decided the new flower bed would make the perfect home for them.

My husband Jeff and I celebrated our 11 year (insane!) anniversary two weeks ago. He knows what I like, and got me a gift card to the garden center as an anniversary present. I decided that I would use my gift in a way that celebrated our anniversary, and used it to purchase two beautiful peonies. I got some fancy-pants ones too, and they are super amazing. They will bloom during our anniversary every year, so isn’t that all mushy and sweet? Since it was the end of the blooming cycle they are already donzito, but I was able to snap a photo before I planted them earlier this week. You can see how pretty they will be next year.

Raised Bed Side Garden

Raised Bed Side Garden
I’m a little obsessed with the new pathway. We had a few stepping stones before, but they didn’t look half as good as they do now. I added 7 more stones to the pathway and now it starts at the edge of our front yard and meanders all the way to the backyard. The dogwood on the edge of the house arches over the entrance of the side yard, and it all looks a little magical. I keep walking by the front of the house to catch a peek from the street.

Raised Bed Side Garden
Besides the peonies I planted herbs. In the front part of the garden I planted two varieties of basil, one standard as well as this purple stemmed beauty. For ground cover between the two gardens I planted thyme and creeping rosemary to fill in between the two blue stone pavers which are nestled between the two raised beds. Thyme and rosemary are both perennial herbs, but unfortunately for me – rosemary is typically only hardy through zone 6.

Raised Bed Side Garden

Raised Bed Side Garden
The garden looking out towards the front yard.

PSST – THE DRILL GIVEAWAY ENDS TODAY, ENTER HERE

Raised Bed Side Garden

Raised Bed Side Garden

Plants Used in the Side Garden
1
Peony – Coral Charm
1
Peony – Raspberry Charm
1
Coral Bells – Caramel
1
Basil – African Blue
1
Creeping Rosemary
1
Thyme – Silver
1
Perilla
1
Creeping Speedwell

Raised Bed Side Garden

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in gardening

CSA Recipe : Radish & Turnip Salad

Radish & Turnip Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
I’m so excited that it’s CSA season again! We just received our first box from the South West Wisconsin farm, Driftless Organics, last week. Our fridge is overflowing with greens – I could just sit and stare at it all day. I wouldn’t though, that would be crazy, but it is really refreshing to see so many raw veggies in our fridge again.

Subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has a lot of great benefits. It allows you to support local agriculture and farmers on a first hand basis, you get and opportunity to eat lots of healthy stuff, and it gives exposure to new varieties of veggies that you may have never cooked with or even tried before. The hard part of course is being dedicated to preparing and eating your CSA box, it does take a bit of dedication.

Every season starts with greens so be prepared for a few salad recipes in the coming weeks, this one is a doozy. I could eat radishes all day long in the summer time, so I especially love this recipe. Salad turnips are almost as good as radishes with the a similar but smoother texture and milder flavor. The root vegetables are delicious with the oregano vinaigrette dressing.

   
 

Radish & Turnip Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Recipe from Driftless Organics

For Salad:

▼ 1 head chopped butterhead lettuce
▼ 4 salad turnips, sliced
▼ 2 medium rashes, sliced
▼ 2 purple scallions, chopped
▼ 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced (optional)

For Vinaigrette:

▼ 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
▼ 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
▼ 3 tsps fresh oregano finely chopped
▼ salt & pepper to taste
▼ 1 green garlic bulb & stalk, minced fine
▼ 4 tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients (save the hardboiled eggs) in a large salad bowl. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together and serve over salad. Lay the eggs over the top of the mixed, dressed salad.
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in Eats

The Fence Is Looking So Good

Horizontal Cedar Fence
Do you like how I got that cardinal to pose for my fence pic?

It is raining cats and dogs over here, today is especially nuts, I think we’re closing in on 4″ of water falling from the sky over the last twelve hours! Flash flooding and total insanity abound. I am losing my mind not being able to go outside, my heart is crying. I just stare out my windows waiting for it to stop.

So out of pure boredom I thought I would do this self indulgent fence post. Stop me when you guys start hating me for seeing my garden in every GD post. I was going to save these fence pics for my June-garden-recap but decided the fence might as well have a post dedicated to it’s beautiful self. It is so pretty after all.

Basically, it finally looks like it belongs in the yard now that the perennials are all full size and blooming. I wanted you to see it when things were growing next to it.

Horizontal Cedar Fence

Horizontal Cedar Fence

Horizontal Cedar Fence
I could totally make out with that fence.

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in Outdoor

New White Outdoor Chairs

Target Bryant Chairs Painted White
A few weeks ago I picked up a couple of Bryant chairs from the Threshold collection at Target. Do they seem familiar to you at all? I kind of think they are a total knock off of the Loll Designs Lollygagger line, which is a little dissful of Target, especially since Loll is also a Minnesota local brand.

I totally adore Loll furniture though and would love to have a set of my own someday, but for $440 a chair, that someday is a long ways away. When I saw the Bryant chair at Target I knew it would be the perfect chair to get me through now and someday – I couldn’t resist the $118 price tag (on sale) and I was able to look way past the brown facade.

Target Bryant Chairs
You might have noticed the new chairs in the photos that I took for the drill giveaway last week. By the way, the BLACK+DECKER drill giveaway is still open, so you should check the website and leave a comment on my post if you haven’t already.

Target Bryant Chairs Painted White

Target Bryant Chairs Painted White
Anyways, I was totally not feeling the off-the-shelf brown that the Bryant chairs are stocked in, but I was definitely loving the style of them. I knew a painting project was in my future if I really wanted to achieve that true modern look. After debating between black and white, I took a deep breath an decided I would spray paint them white.

I was a little nervous because I have not had the best luck with spray paint, its gets messy, and I get overly eager and often end up with drip marks. I was determined to spray paint the proper way and make these chairs really nice, giving thin even coats and allowing sufficient drying in between. I was a little hesitant to dive right in with any old spray paint as the adirondack chairs are made of all-weather polystyrene as opposed to wood. Lucky for me, my go to spray paint brand, Rust-oleum, has the Universal product which is designed for use on wood, plastic, metal, wood, concrete and even vinyl. I figured that polystyrene just had to be covered. I turned my garage into a spray booth, disassembling and spraying the chairs, and within a matter of days I had two perfectly sprayed white chairs. I love them.

I’m not gonna lie, it took a lot of paint to get the perfect finish on these chairs, seven cans total (for both) to be exact. At eight bucks a can, that’s not cheap, but it was totally worth it to me to have evenly painted white chairs for our backyard.

Target Bryant Chairs Painted White
The Threshold Bryant collection at Target is pretty solid. There are lots of cool pieces that are nicely priced, including a picnic table that is reminiscent of the table that Scout Regalia produces, although not as nice. I’ll be waiting for an end-of-season sale and most likely be making purchases on foot rests and maybe even a side table too.

Target Bryant Chairs Painted White

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in Furniture, Outdoor