On Dec 21, 2008, I started my cottage garden. I had spent the summer laying out a new bed in the side yard. This is what it looked like the day I saw the house when it was for sale.
In the summer of 2008, I started working on a new bed layout, covering the existing grass with leaf mold from the landfill. I also brought home truck loads of wood mulch, but soon learned that was a mistake for this garden. My first attempts weren't exactly what I had hoped for. It was a sad little garden with a couple of purchased plants, some knockout roses, and my dad's ugly boat. Sure was a fun summer though.
By late summer, the design was finalized. Stone edging was added throughout the fall from rocks picked up here and there around the property.
By December, the leaf mold had turned into really nice dirt in most areas of the bed. That's when I started taking a weekly photograph from the same spot, using the birdbath as a frame of reference.
To make my wintersowing containers, I used a bandsaw. You can find a previous thread about it here. This morning, it took me about 30 minutes to make 80 new containers for this year. The bottles were saved by my sister, parents, and friends of theirs from church. More will be arriving Saturday, I hope.
Seeds were sown all through December and into the spring of 2009. Germination started coming quickly in mid winter thanks to a warm spell in January.
I spent a lot of time peering into the opening of containers.
And then there was March.
After the snow melted, lots of green was still visible in the containers. They had made it through the winter.
And then April.
Planting out had already started, but really took off in mid April.
By May, the plants were showing significant growth.
June was a very good month.
Summer Solstice. Just six months after sowing the first seeds using the wintersowing method, my garden was in full swing.
By late July, it had become a morning ritual of mine to walk the yard with a cup of coffee and the camera.
An injury caused by my hateful lawnmower in early August gave me reason to sit on the front porch every morning instead of hobbling through the grass on crutches.
As soon as I could manage the steps, I would pace back and forth on the concrete driveway.
Even in September, the gardens were still full and lush.
Just before our first light frost, many things had been removed or cut back for the coming winter. The changing angle of the sun was the biggest reason for the decline. The trees to the South of this bed block a significant amount of sunlight for several months, until they lose their leaves.
Overall, it was a very good year for gardening here on 7th Street. So it's no surprise that I'm planning to do it all again this year. I have more seeds, more varieties, more everything. The hoophouse is set and ready to go. When I run out of soda bottles, I'll start using saved nursery pots. I have several 55 gallon trash bags with quart, gallon, and all sizes in between just waiting to be filled with soil and seeds. Under cover of the hoophouse, they'll germinate quickly and I'll be planting out hardy perennials in late January and February. Snow won't phase them. Annuals will be sown in March with tomatoes started indoors a month earlier. Hardwood cuttings will be taken from several deciduous shrubs about the same time. They'll go into a cold frame at the end of the driveway. I've promised Carla that I would "prune" her fig tree in January. I'll store the cuttings in the fridge until it's time to pot them up.
Thanks to wintersowing, it's a nonstop cycle even through the dead of winter for me and my gardens. I've created so many new beds this year that I need a lot of new plants. I'll sow tons of rudbeckia and echinacea. Cosmos will be direct sown as will some other reseeding annuals. It's just a matter of knowing when. Trial and error is my friend. The backyard will receive the same attention that I paid to the side yard this past winter. With the fallen oak tree, I've got new sunny beds that were partially shade last year.
Today, it's cloudy with snow, sleet, and rain in the forecast. It's 37 degrees. It's coming. There's something new in the gully this morning.
She's a fat hawk. She's perched in a squirrel's drey at the top of a tree in the gully. Last year, I had owls. No sign or sound of them lately. The squirrels know she's around. They've been chattering like crazy. My birdfeeders aren't getting many visitors either. At least there won't be rabbits. I might have to move by feeder to the other side of the house for the winter.