Garden Planning 2015

(This is a belated post — all this garden prep happened in the spring!)

I grew up in rural NC, so urban gardening is a new challenge. My mom has always had wildly successful vegetable and flower gardens, so here I’m hoping to emulate her green thumb, starting with lots of prep work.

We’re renting a place near the river in south Minneapolis, with a small yard that’s got a nice mix of sun and shade. The strip on the southern side of the house gets great sun and is very flat but well drained, and then there are some front and backyard beds that will host more shade-tolerant varieties. Here’s a schematic:

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The big project was putting in the beds on the south side of the house. I sought out some used 2 x 6 cedar decking on Craigslist last fall and found some for free, and then in April I built the beds. Using a modified Lasagna Gardening technique, I didn’t have to pull up any grass!

Reclaimed cedar decking makes for great raised beds. Bonus: there was already a rain barrel in the garage!

Reclaimed cedar decking makes for great raised beds. Bonus: there was already a rain barrel in the garage!

On the left you can see the remains of the day lilies I mowed down -- they later proved to be quite resilient. First step in lasagna gardening is to put down a weed (or grass) barrier; I used newspaper about 3 sheets thick. Then layer with weed-free hay.

On the left you can see the remains of the day lilies I mowed down — they later proved to be quite resilient. First step in lasagna gardening is to put down a weed (or grass) barrier; I used newspaper about 3 sheets thick.

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On top of the newspaper, sprinkle some dried chicken manure, available at your local garden store.

Then layer with seed-free hay.

Then layer with seed-free hay.

Then I put some extra carbon-rich material -- oak leaf mulch we had raked up in the fall.

Then I put some extra carbon-rich material — oak leaf mulch we had raked up in the fall.

Finally add your compost (I had 4 cubic yards delivered to the house) and you're ready for planting!

Finally add your compost (I had 4 cubic yards delivered to the house) and you’re ready for planting!

Now we’ve got some rich beds to plant into. We’re going for a mix of annual and perennial wildflowers, along with vegetables and herbs. For the sake of time (field season is approaching fast), we utilized a “blended sowing” approach — basically, we just mixed all of our wildflower and herb seeds with some sand and spread them all over the beds! I think it’ll bring a more natural look to the garden, though it may come back to bite me when I can’t find my cilantro or basil because it’s hiding underneath a bunch of Prairie Coreopsis…

I won’t write down all that’s being planted — we’ll wait til we start to see some green so as not to jinx anything.

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