We moved into this house after leaving a townhouse in Crofton. In that home, we tried to grow vegetables but the back yard was shaded and was suitable for the native shade-loving plants I planted. The front was the sunny part and it was a very small terraced garden. We grew our three tomato plants out there and some peonies (I LOVE peonies).
When we came here, we loved the vast possibilities presented by our 3/4 acre plot. We seemed to add garden bed after garden bed every year. I was joking that my husband planned to cover Eldersburg in raised beds. We went from two to 4 to 7 and added a berry patch with a fence to house my raspberries and blueberries. And since the goal was to grow as much as we could, the attractiveness factor of the garden took a back seat. We did try to make it pretty by lining the paths between the raised beds with pea gravel. It WAS very nice for a short period of time. But without continuous weeding, the pea gravel turned ugly very quickly.
This year, we plan to reconfigure the garden with new garden beds that will be surrounded by an attractive minimalist fence covered with hardware cloth, something similar in design to this:
It would be larger than this but the idea is the same: maximize garden beds by running them along the fence and make the beds more narrow to allow for easier weeding. Normally, raised beds are recommended to be 4′ wide. I don’t know who can weed such a bed, because I certainly can’t. Granted, I’m pretty short, but still, 4′ seems to be just too wide. The beds that would go along the edge of the fence would be 2′ wide.
This is what it looks like currently:
Not very charming. Granted, we had pulled up two of the garden beds in the fall, knowing we were going to redesign. Yesterday we pulled up the fencing which involved removing the chicken wire apron that we extended into the grass, that was fun. That pile of leaves next to the new garden bed overwintered there nicely. With the fence down, the chickens had access to it and spent MANY happy hours destroying the pile and spreading it EVERYWHERE.
This is my berry patch:
This angle is looking up toward the house, the coop and the above garden beds that are being worked on. The tiered square boxes on the left are where I had my strawberries. This berry patch also holds my blueberry bushes and the raspberry plants. I tore out the raspberries last fall as the variety, Heritage, was not as prolific or tasty as the new ones I planted.
The problem with having strawberries so far away from the house is that I would completely forget to harvest them. By the time I remembered, either birds or slugs had ruined them.
Through trial and many errors, I have learned my preferred growing/harvesting style: rather than having a huge bumper crop of one food in a short span of time, I prefer to have the ripening and harvest spread out. It suits our life better. If you get 15 pounds of anything in a week, you better have a plan for it! So June bearing strawberries are off the list. A few years ago I purchased Mara des Bois strawberry plants, the variety is an everbearing type which fruits from spring to the first frost. With the everbearing types, I have been able to harvest approximately a quart of strawberries every week. This is much more manageable.
In the space which previously held the strawberries and the raspberries, there will now be 4 currants and 4 blackberry plants. I mapped out the area to allow 3-4 feet between plants and from the fence.
Now to get the holes ready.