Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Accessible Raised Bed Garden

In the “old” demo garden, we had one raised bed that was our “Wheelchair Height Garden.” It was about 27 inches high, the height that was recommended for adults in wheelchairs. When we renovated the garden, it was important that we maintain one raised bed that was wheelchair accessible. I’m hoping to change the name to calling it our “accessible garden,” since the point is that it can be used by people with a variety of physical limitations. As we were designing it, we considered a number of things and this is what we ended up with.

The varying heights are designed to be worked from standing position (middle) or sitting position (ends). The final part of this garden, will look like this:

I don’t think this is the full size, although I could be wrong. The half barrel in a frame is a pretty neat idea for a garden, and I’m interested to see how it works. What I most like is that it provides more root depth in the middle, compared to a lot of the “table top” style gardens.

One of the questions we always get when we talk about filling raised beds that are taller is what to put in them? You can see here that we filled the bed about half to two-thirds full with cheap wood chips. The rest of the soil was then a mix of compost and topsoil. The woodchips will, of course, decompose with time, causing the soil level to settle. We counter that by adding fresh compost to the top every year.

Our Horticulture Therapy committee is planning to make use of this new garden, so it won’t be part of our regular Demo Garden work. As with other projects going on, I’ll be sure to keep you updated when there is something of interest to share.

New Shade Garden

We have never had a great spot for a shade garden on our grounds. Partly, we just don’t have a truly shady area. The area with two maple trees right outside the Demo Garden that faces northwest is about as close as we come. In order to keep wind protection and provide some boundaries, we removed part of the lattice on that end of the garden and built a fence around the outside of the “new” garden boundary.

You can see the new fence, one of the existing maple trees, and the new open area between the two pillars. We already had some groundcovers and a mulched path from a groundcover trial we were doing. They are currently planning the new layout for this garden area and will be planting in 2013. I probably won’t cover this garden in the same detail that I cover the vegetables and herbs, but we’ll definitely take a spin through it every so often.

It also gives a nice view into the garden with that lattice removed. I hope it doesn’t cause a wind problem.

New Fence in the Quiet Garden (& Rain Barrels)

I have 3 “new” things to share with you this week, which are really just miscellaneous items that we haven’t covered from the ongoing garden renovation projects. Then there will be a hiatus while I’m traveling for Christmas, and we’ll be back in January to start out planning the garden for 2013!

When we were working on the garden renovation this spring, we realized that the fence around the “Quiet Garden” area had posts that were rotted off at the ground level. So that fence got replaced in early September.

Because we sometimes have had issues with soil washing out under the fence, we put some extra block from the old garden under the fence to help hold the soil in better.

In the corner of the quiet garden, next to the shed door, we installed 2 rain barrels. Rain barrels had been on the to-do list for quite some time. You can see we have the first barrel attached to the guttering and connected to the second barrel. The second barrel also has an “overflow” pipe that will go into the usual drain. I should go check and see how much water we collected from the small rain we had a few days ago!

Garlic & Shallots, Updated

Most of the garlic and shallots that were planted in October have started growing in one way or another. One of the interesting things we’ve observed is that some varieties came up fast and have put on a lot of top growth. Others have put on next to no top growth. I don’t want to disturb the soil, so I don’t know if they are still alive or if not all the cloves are going to grow.

This variety – Maiskij – came up very quickly and already has a lot of top growth.

In comparison, Purple Glazer has grown well, but the plants are smaller than the Maiskij.

The other varieties, like Chesnok Red (pictured) and Persian Star have very little top growth. We won’t be able to tell for sure until spring, but here is my suspicion. The varieties showing less top growth are varieties that typically do well in colder, more northern climates. It would make sense that one of the reasons they do better is that they do not put on lots of leaves in the fall. The varieties that have more leaves are those that are supposed to thrive in warmer climates with milder winters. Again…it makes sense that those varieties could survive and thrive with more leaves in the fall/winter.

With what looks to be a mild winter on the horizon, I would expect that those “warm weather” varieties should do better for us. We will have to wait and see!

The shallots are also showing some differences in growth. I’m really excited about the Gray Shallots (shown here), because they are the true “gourmet” shallots. The plants are already beautiful! Even though a single shallot is planted in each spot (like a single onion set), the plants are multi-stemmed? clumped? shooted? I’m not sure what the right term is. Anyway, shallots grow from a single shallot and produce mulitple shallots in each clump. You can already see those divisions taking place in these plants.

The other thing you may have noticed is that we have a light layer of straw mulch that is on all the plants. It isn’t very thick, but it will provide a little bit of protection and also should help hold moisture as the weather is still very dry.

The other think I noticed, even though I don’t have a closeup picture of it, is that all the garlic and shallot plants are showing a little bit of damage from thrips already. Thrip damage looks like little silvery streaks/spots on the leaves. I suspect that the combination of the drought conditions and warm weather have resulted in a higher than normal population.

The next update about the garlic will probably be in the spring, when the scapes start showing up! Yum!

The Circle of Life

This is the sight that greeted me in the Demo Garden this morning: hawk having breakfast…on our nice new demo table… I’m not sure what is being consumed, since I didn’t want to get any closer. Judging from the feathers floating around, I’m guessing it was a bird of some sort.

Any ideas on how to clean a concrete table top?