Last week I did a post on what is now growing in the hilltop beds. This time round, I thought I would do a bit of an overview on the hilltop "renovation" in general. We are not even halfway done the area at this point, but I know I will want to see the progress in the future, warts and all - and there are plenty of warts.
When we moved here, the hilltop was a weed & vine infested mess with a huge 6’ fire pit in the middle. We would run the mower over the weeds every once in a while but that was about it. We really didn't want to spend any time or money on this area until we knew what we wanted to do with it.
So this is what we started with:
|Before - Facing west|
You can see the load of soil I moved up there last fall on the right &
the plant debris filled fire pit in the middle
|Before - Facing East|
Brush had essentially overtaken an arbour on that side,
which you can just barely make out on the left
I remember when we first moved here – we thought that the fire pit was great. Until we used it, that is. It was so big, you basically had to set it up & light it while standing in it. I didn’t realize how ridiculous it was until I saw a video my husband took of me lighting the fire and his narrative was “now that’s safe….let’s stand IN the fire pit while we light it”. Everyone burst out laughing when we saw the video for the first time, but it really highlighted how impractical (and unsafe) it was. And the fire itself would often get huge – much too large for my comfort. We needed 4' long sticks just to roast some marshmallows!
We constructed another fire pit in the main yard area that was a much more reasonable diameter (around 30" or so) and, once I decided that I wanted to use the hilltop for additional beds, we started using the large fire pit as a makeshift compost area.
This worked out fairly well as it accomplished two things. Firstly, we really needed a temporary spot for large amounts of garden debris as I didn’t have a proper composting area (other than black bins for kitchen scraps) and secondly, it helped fill up the fire pit hole. The goal was to make the 12" deep pit level with the surrounding area & by last year, we were almost there. I filled in the last couple of inches with mulch and then sheet mulched about 1/3 of the hilltop (after cutting down much of the encroaching brush) in a first attempt to deal with the weeds. It was the fall by this point and I didn’t have the mulch or the motivation to do more than that.
You’ll notice I said “first attempt” at getting rid of the weeds. Some of these guys are very persistent. You would think being covered with cardboard and a thick layer of mulch over the winter would have done them in, but no such luck.
|WIP - Facing East|
The arbour is now visible, but many of the
weeds I tried to smother with the cardboard mulch have re-appeared
|WIP - Facing West|
I'll be moving the leftover soil under the blue tarp &
that entire area will be sheet mulched
This year, I built five 8’x 4’ vegetable beds (one is being used by my kids), three asparagus beds and one blueberry bed. The blueberry bed is in place, but not yet filled – I received the plants a couple of months ago and potted them up with some peat moss and compost since their bed wasn't ready yet.
|Blueberries waiting for transplanting|
We were actually in the process of moving some pallets this past weekend for the new compost area, when I noticed this in the corn bed:
|Corn stalks munched - Aargh!|
I was fairly convinced it was rabbits because I also saw chunks of J's snow peas nibbled:
|More evidence on the snow peas|
|The string in the middle pointing right was chewed right through|
It was definitely time to fortify my defences and get that fencing up. In the meantime, the pallet compost bin construction was left for another day.
|Pallets for the new compost bin area|
Put on hold due to corn munching emergency
Once I saw the damaged corn, I didn’t want another night to go by without the area properly secured and I was able to finish installing the chicken wire before nightfall.
|Chicken Wire Fencing Installed|
My overall plan includes building 5 more veg beds plus another asparagus bed & 2 or 3 blueberry beds (depending on how well my current bushes do once planted).
But that plan will have to wait for at least a couple of years. I have added new beds to the garden in 3 of the last 4 years and I need a bit of a break. I actually think I bit off more than I could chew this year. Adding to the garden takes up a lot of time and energy & it will be nice to be on top of things for once, instead of always falling behind.
Till next time...
Double Aarg! Today I noticed some fresh damage on 2 more corn stalks. I'm still convinced that rabbits did some damage to the garden, especially the peas and trellis. But now I'm thinking that maybe birds or squirrels are responsible for the corn. I've decided to cover the corn bed with Agribon for now. And then cross my fingers.