Thursday, February 18, 2016

Veg Garden Envy and Creative Ideas

Raised Bed - Vegetable Garden
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a very avid home gardener in Austin, Texas. I have a serious case of garden envy going.  Even though I visited in the off season - it was easy to tell that there was a good deal of planning and learning that went into this garden design.

From the overview photo you can catch a glimpse of the numerous raised beds, use of arbors too. Off to the side are more raised beds in the shade, a field for native flowers, a spot where a cistern is going up this year, and fruit trees including an olive. The front yard also has a man-made creek running through it for wild-life. One of the features that helps make this a certified wildlife habitat.

Higher beds - easier access for seniors
The beds were extremely high relative to what I've typically seen. The owner said that she planned that height to make it easier to work in old age when bending and squatting would be too much work. Love that planning ahead aspect.

Built on a small hill - there was also careful consideration to the height of the crops in each bed, time for maturation, and light needs. For example, in the front of the beds were many of the herbs for easy access to the house. Along the lower side and in what would be the shade in full summer was a spot for strawberries - an early season crop. On the far side of the garden, sheltered by other tall crops and man-made curtains, is where lettuce and greens are grown most of the year. Keeping out the hot Texas sun is a prime consideration. I visited in February and it was 85 degrees!

Monster Chili Pepper Plant; Grapes on fence
Many of the crops in her garden had survived and produced through the winter. That included this super large hot pepper plant. Helped by the height of the beds - but still over 8 feet tall. I guess it's true that everything is bigger in Texas!

Talking about that sun - she had created a clever curtain that was strung over the garden in the peak of summer. In some cases a flowering vine was grown, in other spots vertical gardening included cucumbers, squash and melons. Yes, melons in the vertical garden. Her tip - tie them up with old pantyhose. The hose is soft enough not to hurt the plant, won't rot, and will catch the fruit when it falls. I'm using this tip in my garden this year!

The other tip that was excellent was the use of a mailbox for storage. Keeps the rain and critters out - and puts all kinds of items right where needed. Gloves, twine, pruners - in the garden but safe! I'm always going from my veggie garden back to the garage for something or other. Will consider this add to the garden. Most likely I'll put in a cement bucket to make it more mobile - same concept a tad adapted to my garden.
On-Site Storage Container

Surprise! Not just for Mail!

I really loved her raised vegetable garden, commitment to natives and habitat development, in addition to the creative tips she provided. She'd been at it for over 8 years. Lots of trial and error to make the garden this nice. She is a member of the National Wildlife Federation and maintains a Certified Wildlife Habitat - you can too! Apply here. 

I'm so ready for spring! Ready to start reaping the harvest from my veggie garden :)

Happy Day

Teresa Marie

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