Sunday, January 13, 2013

Companion Garden Beds

I finally started on the front yard companion garden design.  I have had analysis paralysis for 2 years with this project and decided it was finally time to just go for it and work on the aesthetics along the way.  When we purchased our home the front yard had been cleared of all trees and had become nothing but weeds.  It's a large front yard and after receiving a mind blowing quote to have sod laid, I decided it was better to put it to use for our family by creating an edible landscape with minimal grass. 

It's hard to see the size in these photos but as it stands it is about 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep.  I plan to make it a little larger and add a few more small boxes to give it some more layers.  The hubby will also be making a long arbor that goes most of the width along the side closest to fence for growing grapes.  It will help give it that English garden feeling that I'm going for.  It will all be framed out with stacked stone borders and boxwood hedges when it's finished.  I also plan to add butterfly gardens to corners so that it has lots of color and will attract bees and butterfly's to pollinate. 

The tree in the middle of this photo is an olive tree and on the far left and right sides of the garden I planted apple trees.  All 3 sit inside the garden space that will be framed so I plan to keep these trees pruned to a small ornamental size so they offer some light shade in the summer and help give the garden a little more interest.  There will also be flagstone walking paths throughout. 

My boxes are nothing special.  They are made from cedar fence post so the cost was minimal.  I chose not to invest too much into the boxes because ultimately they will not be very noticeable.  Since this is companion garden there will be several heights and layers of plants and the boxes will just add a hint of interest in the midst of what will hopefully be an abundance of big beautiful vegetables. 

I have lots of planned companions like Borage next to my tomatoes, peas next to my potatoes, yarrow and garlic around borders to deter bugs, and many more but most of it will just be trial and error.  To prepare the ground I laid down paper bags and put a thin layer of wood chips down.  We have a tree company that drops off wood chips when they are in the area.  I try to mulch my bottom layer with rich material from the bottom of the pile that is already breaking down.  I put a few inches of top soil on top of the wood chips and then work in a layer of rich chicken compost.  I top it off with another thin layer of wood chips.  It will take time but eventually it will all become rich, light weight compost that will hold water naturally.  In the meantime I will keep adding fresh compost and growing plants that add nutrients to the soil like peas and bean sprouts.

That's it for now. It's not much to look at yet but it's a start!

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