I think I’ve found a new happy place…
I’ve always enjoyed my garden, but I’ll be honest, some years have been more stressful than others.
There have been times where I found myself conveniently avoiding the garden area of the yard, as I didn’t want to own the reality of dying vegetables, messy rows, and insane numbers of weeds. People would come for a visit and ask to the see the garden, and I’d gently steer them to the newborn calves or fluffy baby chicks instead. There just wasn’t much to write home about, folks.
My foray into the world of deep mulch helped a lot. It reduced the sheer number of hours I needed to spend weeding and watering, which did reduce the stress I’d feel every time every time I’d think about gardening. But then I poisoned my garden with tainted hay mulch, and that was that.
Not to mention, our plot was just too small, there was a tree growing in it, and the fence (a combo of cattle panels layered with chicken wire) still wasn’t keeping the destructive chickens and rabbits out. The whole space felt messy, out of control, and non-productive. It was time for a change, which prompted our raised bed construction project earlier this spring.
Now that the beds are planted and the new fence has been built, I’ve been able to take a step back and actually enjoy the space. Novel idea, huh?
Practical vs. Pretty…?
I’m an extremely practical person… Almost annoyingly so. If something doesn’t contribute towards the final goal or end result, I generally won’t spend time on it… I can’t help myself, it’s just the way I’m wired. In year’s past, the end goal was (attempting) to grow vegetables, and since adding signs or pretty gateways didn’t really effect that result one way or the other, I always opted to skip out on adding any extra touches.
But I also love beautiful spaces, and for some odd reason, I couldn’t get the idea of this new garden being a place not only to work, but also a place where we could rest, enjoy, and soak up the atmosphere. So this year for the first time ever, I set out on Operation Garden Beautification.
I think homegrown food is beautiful it it’s own right, but I wanted to add some extras this year. (FYI- If I lived in town, I’d totally fill my front yard with gardens and beds instead of a lawn.) I envisioned a seating area, complementary flowers and vines, archways, and random bits of repurposed decor to bring a welcoming, friendly feel to the space.
I’m far from done (aka– don’t judge the incompletion you see in some of these pics), but I wanted to show you what I’ve done so far… Even in the half-finishedness of the project, I’m enjoying my garden more than I ever have in year’s past. I should have stuffed my practical side years ago and done this a lot sooner.
Come Take a Walk with Me
So without further adieu, let’s go for a walk in the garden, shall we?
Before we start, here’s a few things to know:
- We plan to put wood chips on all the paths and walkways. Sooner versus later, I hope…
- I will be adding mulch to some of the beds. It’s on the to-do list that seems to still be escaping completion at the moment.
- The Prairie Husband and I are talking about adding PVC hoops to the beds so we can attach either plastic (to extend the growing season) or hail netting (because the hail here is just dumb). However, true to form, he wants to use something other than PVC, because he has a penchant for overkill in regards to building materials. (Some of you will remember our paletts “discussions”) 😉 We shall see what we end up with….
- Imagine vines and climbing stuff wrapped around the fences and archway… It’s not there yet, but that’s my plan. I’m shooting for the overgrown, “secret garden” feel, if that’s possible in Wyoming.
- So far, all the plants and seeds have been growing splendidly. (I was having secret panic attacks that somehow our DIY soil mix would be horribly wrong and nothing would sprout…) So far, so good. Now if we can just dodge the hail the rest of the summer, we’ll be golden.
- For all your questions about how we built our beds, check out this post with all the gory details.
Prairie Homestead Garden Tour 2017 (Early Summer)
There are two gates, one from the yard side, and one from the barn side. (Zucchinis are in the water tank. Except they haven’t sprouted yet… So maybe my seeds are dead. Ay-yi-yi.)
The gates open into the “sitting area”. I’m picturing a cute little bistro set here and it being filled in with perennial flowers and blooms.
I’m also starting an eclectic pot collection– my new rule is that I can use anything as a pot, except an actual flower pot. I’ve been scouring thrift stores for old cooking pots and pans and am having a blast creating a mix-and-match collection.
I have no idea if English Ivy will grow on the Wyoming prairie, but I found it at the local garden store and by golly, I’m going to give it a try. Because viney, overgrown fences are my favorite.
This is my in-ground section of the garden. Picture it being filled with luscious Winter Luxury heirloom pie pumpkins, which are just barely starting to sprout in the mounds. We were pumpkin-less last year, which was borderline tragic.
Now onto the beds…
There are 20 beds total, and they are planted with several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, poblano peppers, multiple varieties of leaf lettuce, spinach, rainbow chard, kale, mustard greens, arugula, marigolds, two ground huckleberry plants, albino beets, two varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, three kinds of potatoes, red & yellow onions, leeks, snap peas, bush & climbing beans, cucumbers, and carrots. Whew. I think that’s it.
I’m not sure if my purposed fork-and-canning-lid garden markers are super creative or just super redneck. Either way, I’m going with it.
Note to self: mulch the stinkin’ potatoes!
This is my favorite bed right now because it’s all pretty and organized-looking. Shhhh… don’t tell the others.
I planted rows of Scarlet Runner beans along the edges of several beds, with the idea they will theoretically climb up the fence. It sounded good on paper, we’ll see if it actually happens.
It always annoys me when I have to drive all over town to hunt down pickling cucumbers. Fingers crossed I won’t have to do that this year to make my favorite brined pickles.
Poblanos are my favorite pepper, and oddly enough, they’re tough to find in our area. I have some rockin’ recipes that call for poblanos, so harvest time will be delicious.
The Prairie Husband put in a timed watering system with 3 different automatic zones. (What? You’re not surprised are you?) Each bed has 4 mini-sprinklers– beyond that, I have no idea how it works. Sorry. 😉
I adore cabbage– not only because it makes knock-your-socks-off sauerkraut, but also because it loves growing in Wyoming, which can’t be said about everything else I attempt to grow.
The tomatoes looked a little puny for a while, but seem to be growing happily now. They definitely appreciated the stakes, as the wind was whipping them around a bit too much.
And this is the unstaged, unposed, real-life version of the garden, which also happens to be my favorite version.
Prairie Baby also loves to help in the garden. And by help I mean yanking out pepper plants by their roots and digging up sprouting seeds and trying to eat them.
So there you have it folks. We’re off to a strong start, and I’m hoping it stays that way. Here’s to a fruitful season for all of us, and may you and your garden dodge hail storms, insect plagues, and early frosts. 🙂