Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Building a garden: the fence year

So in 2011 we were ready to get a permanent fence in place. In May we staked out our potential 24x36' garden plot and I took lots of photos trying to establish whether we had chosen the most sunlit area. As it turned out I decided to shift the plot 11 feet southeast and my very patient husband helped me move our stakes and twine.

On June 1st, despite snow falling that day, we rented an auger and dug our post holes. This was the first time we'd done any substantial digging in our soil, and we learned that it's extremely rocky. Some of those holes required us to pry-bar out dozens of softball- to basketball-sized stones. We were already worn out before any fence appeared.

 2011June 005
tomatoes waiting to be planted

Actually getting the fence up took another month, between our comings and goings and work commitments. (In the meantime I planted in pots again, in a ring of deer mesh.) We were helped immeasurably by the extended Suess clan, who on their vacation week at our house decided to take a whole day and work on the fence with us. By the end of that day all the posts and crossbeams were up and the gate was hung.
 2011June 697
2011June 700 R M+C work on fence 2011June 709 R M+B secure crossbeam fence build3
while Suess men work, Grandma and cousin R. entertain Carson:
2011June 739 Carson and R in the dirt

Bub and I finished stretching the wire July 3...

2011June 828
fencing tools

 2011June 829

 2011June 832
preparing the comealong 

 2011June 851
Carson brings the ratchet 

 2011July 066
nailing on the wire 

2011July 087  
the completed fence!

...and finally were able to release our pots from their temporary enclosure.

2011July 319

2011July 325

The next project was to prepare blueberry beds. The corner of the garden that I chose for this was the rockiest, of course, and as I was working in 30-60 minute chunks of "toddler time", it took me another six weeks of prying out boulders and sifting "soil" (really gravel) to remove the largest rocks before I finally planted my eight blueberry plants in mid-August.

2011Aug 037

2011Aug 043-001

2011Aug 199

And here's how the garden looked then!

long garden view

Sad to say, after all this work, our yield was very disappointing. Nothing grew well. We ate a few servings of green beans, cherry tomatoes and lemon cucumbers, but nothing thrived. I'm chalking it up to a combination of poor soil, inadequate fertilization, and a very cool summer, with maybe some excessive watering thrown in. In any case, our quest for garden success continued and we hung our hopes on next year once again, when we'd have raised beds and imported quality soil...