Early spring the next year I started digging out the the big tractor tires. I emptied all the dirt out, added rotten logs, twigs, straw underneath, then replaced the dirt. I planted one entire tractor tire full of strawberry plants, to replace the ones of Paw Paw’s that died. (Only a fraction though, he had 7-8 small tires FULL.)
The second tractor tire I planted with bell peppers.
My other big project for that year was the huge hugelkultur mound I put in along that row. I removed all the tires and put in a section of cattle panel fence, then built the mound around it. I had so many tomatoes that year, we couldn’t use them fast enough.
I threw a few cucumber plants in at the end of the mound, but they didn’t do great in the tires. The soil just got too compacted, the plants kept drying out and the fruits were most bitter.
We tried planting potatoes in some of the stacked tires too. They made a few, but were small and kind of sad.
I decided two years of 6ft high weeds had seriously depleted the soil and it was going to need some building up to do well for vegetables.
The entire left side of the garden I just left covered. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet and the cardboard meant less weedeating.
Doesn’t seem like a lot of progress, but I was also very busy that year cleaning buildings, getting the house in order, working on the rest of the yard and just trying to wrap my head around what to do next with this place.
I wish I had taken more photos of the garden as I worked on it in the years we’ve been here. It’s only been 3 years, but I found some snaps I’d taken when the house was still under contract negotiations and we were coming up here to clean but hadn’t yet moved in. Compared to the pictures I took a couple weeks ago, the change is HUGE. So you’ll get to see why it is I didn’t post a lot on Dirt for those years, because I’ve just been so INCREDIBLY FREAKING BUSY just trying to get things back up to the shape that they were when Tom’s grandparent’s lived here.
The house sat empty for two years while everyone tried to decide what was to be done about it. A neighbor thankfully kept the yard mowed over that time, but the landscaped plants and the garden were completely neglected. I lost one of the rose bushes, it was overwhelmed with black spot clear down to the main root, I was able to save one of them at least.
The garden was nothing but weeds, at least as high as my head and almost 6ft in some places. Paw paw’s strawberries were gone in a tangle of weeds and thorns, I couldn’t even find the tires that he’d used for raise beds until we ran the brush hog through the middle of the garden.
The garden the year we moved in. That hose reel you can just barely see in the back right corner is where the strawberry beds used to be.
I spent probably the first year in the garden here just cleaning it. Mowing, hours and hours of weed eating, pulling out old irrigation hoses hanging over the beds and just generally getting down to the ground so I could see what I had to work with. Max (Paw paw) had done all his planting in tires filled with dirt in rows the length of the garden on either side. I didn’t plant the first year. We moved to the farm in August, I was still remodeling our Lake house and just didn’t have time to garden. 😦
This was pretty much it for year one. I put down some cardboard over the tractor tires to kill the weeds sprouting there over the winter and prep them for digging out in spring.
I’m going to break this into parts to the post doesn’t turn into s 1000 pg novel. 🙂