The rainbow connection

Drum roll please…. I think the garden is finally FINISHED. By finished, I mean I think I won’t be adding any more growing space to it in my lifetime — that it is now balanced and beautiful and big as I want it! It is so lovely!

I had a stroke of genius when I decided to pull out that iris bed. That change allowed us to add in some 120sq feet of beds, AND we doubled our vertical growing space with a second cattle panel arch. Now the garden feels balanced, zen-like even. I think I’ve planned it so that we can mow around the outside without too much trouble, too. I am just delighted with the whole thing!

We worked for almost three months on and off to get these beds in, and we hired three older teenage boys to help. It was so worth the expense, though. Just look at my new beds!

You may notice we lined the beds with plastic. After twelve years of cement brick raised beds, I have learned it’s best to line cement brick with plastic so that the bricks don’t wick out all the moisture from your soil. I don’t like the bottom of the beds for drainage purposes, but some do. I also cover the top with 3-4 inches of undyed hardwood mulch so that it can breakdown and amend the soil. Each bag lasts about two years before it needs refreshing. The soil is a “garden mix” we get from our local mulch supplier. It has too soil, mushroom compost, and a little cow manure in it. It’s much easier to work with than our native clay.

Here’s the best view of the two new raised beds:

the money shot

One thing I do with the t-bars on the cattle panel arches that makes a huge difference aesthetically is paint the white tips green. Forest green doesn’t blend into the grass green, but it does look slightly more “natural”. Once the cattle panel trellis is engulfed in vegetables, the t-bars disappear into the foliage far better when painted green. When the arch is fully covered, it almost looks like it’s just standing there, like some gate to faerie land. I paint the tops of the t-bars wherever I use them for food-growing—even on the blackberry fence.

I think I can use that small bed on the left with a cold frame to get some early vegetables in next year. It is raised enough to be comfortable to reach, and it should warm up earlier than the soil in the main bed. The new arch gives me fifty square feet of space for growing melons that I didn’t have room for this year. Jared will love it.

But the best part is that the garden feels complete… whole. It’s balanced visually, and it just feels …. right. I actually don’t think we will ever need to add to it again (and this is saying something, because I can almost always imagine how to improve or add on to something).

Tonight I am basking in the glory of a task completed and completed well.

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.