For the past few years I've been tinkering with gardening. This year, I've decided that rather than wait four more years until we potentially move I might as well do it right.
I also intend to see how much of a difference solar mass heating will make by using stone path ways and a perimeter stone and cob wall once the garden is completed.
I started this project the first weekend of December... and since that day have spent the majority of most weekends digging out the garden.
Our Garden Thus Far
The garden from the front (west side)
Here is where things were at when I started taking pictures. As you can see, the garden is starting to take shape.
The basic idea is to have a circular garden with a center path and key holes to the middle of each bed. Once done it should look a little like an alien crop circle from over head. Hopefully I'll be able to see it via google earth here before long.
Digging the Beds
Living on a developer created plot our soil is tragic. Virginia soil in this area tends to be very clay based... and when the developer cleared the land it looks like they took what little top soil there was and sold it for extra profit.
Anywise, to make good beds I'm doing the following:
- Digging what little top soil we have off the top
- Digging down between one and two feet into the clay
One of my daughters stands in the dug bed. You can see the clay key holes on either side of her.
- Back filling with the top soil
- Adding a good foot of leaf mulch on top of the original top soil
A bed with leaf mulch, currently soaking. The leaves will compact down and decompose within a couple of months.
- Adding good soil on top of that to about six inches above normal ground level
Dug on left stepping up to back fill, leaf mulch, and then top soil.
It's been a lot of work, but I don't plan on tilling the garden once it is complete.
Between an outer wall with foundation and a clover living mulch there shouldn't be much need to weed and churn the earth.
The Stone Path
For walk ways I plan on using stone sitting on a thin layer of gravel and sand. Here you can see the central path in progress. To make life simpler I tossed together a quick frame out of some 1x6 lumber I had lying about.
The central stone path in progress with 2 foot wide frame.
As you might notice, I'm not concerned about making the garden level, just about having the path not slope too steeply anywhere.
Creating the Key Holes
Rather than have a series of round paths every few feet I want to have just two round paths (one in the middle area and one near the perimeter) in the garden with a series of key hole shaped entry ways to the middle of each bed.
To do this, I built a quick frame out of 1x6 lumber, used as follows:
The key hole frame (with ground covering material in the center)
- Place the frame on the ground where the keyhole should be
- Mark the outer edges of the frame with a shovel
- Remove the frame and dig the top soil out using my marks
A dug out key hole frame, ready to have clay put in it.
- Put the frame into the dug out area and fill it with clay from digging out the surrounding beds
- Pack it down then remove the frame
Later, once the beds and connected path have been put into place I put the frame back to make any shape corrections and then lay down the stone work.
If you like what you see so far, be sure to check back once in a while or follow me: @tony.jennings