Monday, April 13, 2009

What we did around here last week.

Things here in Hartwood are happening fast and furious. Increased daylight and warmer temps are waking up the garden, and make pleasant working conditions for the gardener. Here is a run-down of last week:

Weeds!! The soil here is perfect for growing all sorts of things. This property has been a farm since 1837, so we have better soil here than I have ever seen in Virginia. We also have every type of weed known to mankind … and they grow like, you know, weeds.

Even though the ground is damp and soft, I have found that it is best not to pull most weeds. Pulling them out disturbs the soil, activates dormant weed seeds by exposing them to the sunlight, and perpetuates the problem. It’s better to carefully use herbicide, let the weeds die in place, and cover their carcasses with mulch. Fortunately, Round-up is now available in a much-less-expensive generic form. Many spring mornings while the air is still, you will find me out with my sprayer murdering weeds.

The Rose Field. With the nursery here scheduled to open in June (more on this later in the week), and 4 events planned for the last week in May, I have to keep a pretty frantic pace to get everything into “Show Garden” condition. The Rose Field has been the biggest project. The paths between the rows get muddy … and weedy … so we are putting down gravel.


Let’s do the math: 19 paths, 4 feet wide and 65 feet long = 4940 square feet. Plus the central aisle: 4 feet wide, 160 feet long = 660 square feet … for a grand total of 5600 square feet of gravel! In order to do this in the most efficient way possible, we hired it out. Two teenage boys can do at least 4 times the work of the average adult. I marked the paths in spray paint, and they shoveled and wheelbarrowed and raked about half of the field in two afternoons. There is no way I could ever come close to what they accomplished.


Here's a photo showing the paths, before and after gravel:

(You have to imagine that the roses are larger, all leafed out and blooming, and the beds mulched and weed free.)

Mulch. Everything here needs at least some mulch. Gardens that were mulched last year just need a light freshening. There are places we didn’t get to mulch last year, and new garden areas, where we have to kill the weeds (see above) lay paper (newspaper, packing paper or brown paper) and add a couple inches of mulch.


(Notice that the roses are now planted at each post of the Arcade.)

Instead of bringing in a tractor-trailer load of mulch (which is probably what this place will end up requiring) we’ve decided to have Steve detour past the mulch place near his office every few days and bring it home a yard at a time. This is a nice manageable amount (probably 2 days worth) and we won’t have to find a place to store Mount Mulch until we can use it up.

Cobblestones! Last year, 7 Hills School in Richmond removed some cobblestones on their property to build a soccer field. These stones are now for sale, with proceeds benefitting the school. I love the character of the traffic side of these stones. They will be perfect to edge the new fig bed I’m going to put along the sunny, south side of the barn.


Take another look at my previous post with the photos of the construction of the Arcade .... notice how the grass gets greener as construction progressed? Spring is here, my friends.

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