After a long summer dry spell, we welcomed Autumn rain with open arms. The water from the sky arrived just in time – with night temperature hovering about 40, it is almost time to blow dry the drip lines in the garden.
Fall is the perfect time to garden – who is with me on this? There is much less weeding and much more flowers, and the sun is not nearly intense. Honestly, I am taking the Fall garden tasks very causally and spent most of my “gardening” time sipping coffee, petting dogs, and watching graceful grasses dancing in cool breeze. It is LUXURY.
A front garden update
Our last year’s hard work in the front yard totally paid off. Our front yard is the one the most beautiful in the neighborhood I dare to say. I intentionally stayed with a cool color palette for flowers and I do not regret it.
The flowers above is Rocky Mountain Columbine, which is the state flower of Colorado. The grasses behind them are Blue Grama, which is the Colorado state grass.
Besides summer flowers there are also Autumn colors. Here are the red berries, the silver brocade sage, and the blue stonecrop:
Last fall I dropped a couple pieces of blue stonecrop next to the dry creek. Look at how lovely they are doing now! Gotta love a strong ground cover plant.
Succulent the dry creek
Inspired by the look of stonecrop next to the dry creek, I decided to dress it up even more. Last year I got some divisions of Hens and Chicks from a neighbor; they did very well in our climate and tripled in number during just one season. So I transplanted them along the dry creek to fill all the gaps and crannies.
I also tucked some baby ones along the retaining wall. These voids were filled with sand and the little green bundles peeking out really brings the look up a notch.
Re-work the veggie garden
The main gardening task this Fall is to redo the vegetable garden. We started growing vegetables in our back yard in the Spring of 2018 with just 5 beds, and added three more last Spring. After two seasons trying different vegetables, I now have a pretty good understanding on what grows well in our yard, and more importantly, what we like to eat. I would like to put more effort into vegetable gardening next year, and this Fall is the perfect time to plan and prepare the beds.
There are a few things I wanted to address here: first, after two years of farming our vegetable beds could use some rejuvenation aka compost. Second, the bark mulch we put down two seasons ago has decomposed significantly and there are quite a few places bare ground is shown.
Lastly, the drip system here could use some reconfiguration – we’ve been slowly adding drip lines and soaker hoses as the garden grows, which results in choppy grid and inconsistent water pressure throughout the system.
So here is the steps I took to rejuvenate the veggie garden space:
1. Redefine the veggie beds and restrict the bark mulch only on the paths
We used to have bark mulch on both veggie beds and the paths in between; I have found that the coarse mulch we used does not help with seed germination especially for small seeds. I would like to use compost as mulch next year for better soil health and veggie growth. So I racked all the bark mulch onto the paths between beds.
I took this opportunity to redefine the boundary of each bed. To space them evenly I used a landscape measuring tape, which I found very useful in all different kinds of outdoor projects. From planning large project such as patio or fence, to planting hedges, I use it all the time when I need to measure long distance.
We also decided to remove the very first veggie bed to make driving the trailer into the back yard easier. So I moved the edging back to define the new boundary.
The first bed:
The new boundary:
2. Organize the drip tubing and re-run soaker hoses
We have been watering the veggie garden with soaker hoses. After spacing the beds and move the mulch, I took out all the soakers hose onto the surface, fix the leaky area and rearranged them to accommodate the new grid of the veggie beds.
The new grid:
3. Propagate and divide perennial crops in the vegetable garden
Fall is a great time to propagate and divide perennials. We have some strawberry plants that are sending lots of runners. I buried the runners in soil which will encourage them to grow their own roots. I also divided our chive plant and made a row with the divisions in the front of the first veggie bed. Imagine a hedge of green shoots and purple flowers in Spring? Wouldn’t it be nice?
4. Top-dress all beds with organic compost
As the last step, I put down a thick layer of compost over the vegetable beds to give the garden a boost of energy for the next season. These compost will be worked into the soil next Spring and another layer of compost will be used as mulch after Spring planting.
After all the reorganization and refreshing I had to plant something. So I planted garlic crop in for next year. These are all the hard neck varieties and were grown successfully in this garden last year. And now I am using my own produce as seed garlic! How exciting!
At the mean time…
Compared to my moderate gardening effort Slav is speeding down a long list of house winterizing – sealing the windows, replacing weather stripping on exterior doors, and winterizing our vehicles. Last weekend Slav fixed the sagging fence gate fortunately just replacing the hinges, and set a pair of cane bolts to hold the gates in place.
This is the last 2% of fence work we did not complete before the ground frozen last winter, and you know how small tasks get overlooked – it only took us a year to wrap it up!
Oh, The teeth mark on the fence gate? That was Charlie, our black lab, who developed a deep obsession on neighbor’s front yard and has broken out a few times this summer. Hopefully these can bolts will be able to keep him in the escape artist!
We are looking forward to some friends’ visit this coming week and a much-needed relaxation in the mountains. I hope to have an update on the basement in a couple weeks. We are so close!