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Time is flying so fast. We have officially slid into the second half of the Yard Transformation Challenge Spring 2018, and here is our week 4 update on the backyard makeover!
It is amazing to see how adding a few things can completely change the look of the place. If you remember, last week we built a garden arbor to support the climbing rose and clematis we purchased recently. If you missed the post, you can check it out here. I am so happy with the result of that DIY project!
This week we have built a very long raised bed which is now breaking the backyard into the veggie garden and the lawn/kids play area. The new bed looks like an extension of the garden arbor and gives it a more complete look.
It is still all messy around but will be cleaned up as we complete building the other beds 😉
The initial plan was to plant flowers only in that raised bed. However, it looks like we have so many tomato plants, and there will be more cucumber plants coming out soon, that we need to utilize every inch available.
So, we decided to interplant veggies with flowers in that bed as well 😉
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Interplanting vegetables with flowers serves a few purposes: it builds a healthier ecosystem and attracts birds and beneficial insects to the #garden. #backyardgardening #urbangarden #gardenmakeover ” quote=”Create a garden you will absolutely love!”]
Baclyard Makeover – Productive Garden
We are not the inventors here. I have recently read this awesome book which describes many garden types, and the productive garden term is used in one of the chapters.
I was like: that is exactly what we have been doing in our garden!
See tomatoes growing well with nasturtiums and California poppies?
If you check our earlier posts, you will see we have been growing vegetables and flowers altogether. We find it very beneficial for many purposes:
1. Attracting birds and beneficial insects to the garden
Wildflowers and herbs attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. They create a refuge for them and are the source of food/pollen for bees, ladybugs, parasitic (or parasitoid) wasps, and many other little hardworking garden creatures.
In return, they pollinate our vegetables, munch on garden pests, and help us create a healthier garden.
2. Soil Improvement
Different plants have various soil needs. The more diversity you have in the garden – the healthier the soil is. Even the plants that are considered weeds (dandelions, plantains, chickweed, lamb’s quarters, etc.) have plenty of benefits for the soil. And, by the way, they can be used for medicinal purposes or eaten 😉 Yes, all of these are edible as well and have multiple health benefits.
Dandelions, for example, are very good for the soil. Their deep taproots pull nutrients from deep in the soil and make them available to other plants. Don’t want your tomatoes to have a blossom-end rot? Make a compost tea with dandelions leaves 😉
The other great flowers to grow in your garden are phacelia, sweet alyssum, and nasturtiums.
Phacelia, besides being a gorgeous plant that is extremely attractive to the bees, is also a wonder-plant that can be used as a green manure and a soil enhancer between the seasonal plantings.
Sweet Alyssum is also very attractive to bees and smells amazing! Last year we grew one variety only. This year we are planning on adding another dwarf variety. We are hoping to get rid of the grass lawn completely in future and replace it with microclover, creeping thyme and dwarf alyssum.
It looks like microclover and creeping thyme have established pretty well in both our front and back yards already. And I agree with the author of this book who is saying that lawns are more maintenance and have no benefits for the environment.
I understand there are lawns enthusiasts out there and if they are able to keep it up with the maintenance and don’t mind cutting it every so often, then why not. Everybody’s taste is different and many won’t probably understand our enthusiasm for the things we are building in our garden 😉
But back to the growing flowers with veggies:
3. Visual Interest
Well, this is an easy one. Flowers are beautiful, and they add a visual interest and structure to the vegetable garden. If this is your first time on our blog, you might not know that we have added a few raised beds in the front yard as well.
What is the best way to “hide” some vegetables but still utilize the available sunny spot of the yard?
Interplant them with flowers!
You might know already about growing calendula and marigolds in the vegetable garden. Why not grow lilies and dahlias with cabbages and squashes?
There is a little science behind this approach. You want to consider plants nutrients needs, depth of the roots, and spreading habits, but it is not all too complicated. This book is very helpful and has great examples of successful interplanting of flowers with vegetables.
And remember to not be afraid to experiment and try out different approaches. At the end of the day:
Gardening is Fun!
Isn’t it exciting to try and grow the new plants?
We are far away from being the perfect gardeners. Yes, we have had many successful gardening experiments. But we have also had many great failures as well.
It is all part of the learning process!
Back to the new raised bed.
How to build a long raised garden bed
Because it is so long, there are a few things that need to be added to it to make sure it is not falling apart after the first season.
Once again, we have used free pallets to build it.
As my Mr. Handyman was building it, he kept adding lumber pieces perpendicular to the longer sides to strengthen the structure:
This must be done to ensure the long sides of the raised bed are not getting pushed out by the added soil.
We lined up the bottom of the bed with cardboard and a layer of dry leaves, added some worms castings, compost, and the gardening soil purchased in bulk a month or so ago.
As we were filling the bed with soil, we realized that we didn’t have enough…
Can you believe it that all 5 yards (approx. 5 cubic meters) of the soil we purchased for our front yard transformation are gone?
Now we need to order more as we need to finish this long raised bed and to have more for the two new raised beds we will be building next week.
Where do you get your soil from? Do you order it in bulk? Or do you just amend the existing beds with compost?
Gardening may be costly
This is why so many experienced gardeners recommend to build and grow your garden slowly.
We are still well below the projected budget of $500 which makes me happy 😉
This is our third gardening season in this house and as you can see, there is still so much to do.
But that is fine!
We have so many plans to do so much more! And we will have so many more projects to share with you 😉
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