our gardens

A Walk Around The Garden: Knoxville spring prep

Knoxville-garden

We’re taking another walk around the garden, but instead of touring our Atlanta garden, we are filling you in on the changes that we have made in our Knoxville garden. With spring around the corner, we are hustling to get our garden away from home back in shape. The garden is located in a nice sunny spot and is protected by a fence that we built years back. We fill it each season with different crops that can be grown with a more hands-off approach. In the driest periods Ryan’s folks water it as needed for us (and they help pulling the occasional weed). Here’s what took place most recently and the plans for the year ahead:

Weeding and Refreshing.
Once the garden bed was weeded and cleaned up from its dormant state, Ryan regraded areas of the garden that were uneven from the hugelkulture method we started the bed with began settling. This gave us a more even planting area and path to work in. (You can read about how we started this hugel bed here.)

graded-garden-path

With a cleaner slate our beloved broadfork was used to aerate and loosen the soil for our new plants to get their roots reach deeper and allow them to pull in more nutrients. Then the garden bed was smoothed over with a metal rake.

Knoxville garden

Planting.
This year we have decided to shift our bed towards perennial crops. We have started with mostly berries. Our rhubarb and collards will be staying put from previous seasons since they are still going strong. We wanted to keep things ultra-easy on ourselves with our away garden. This meant turning it into a place where our berry bushes could thrive. These plants will be used to propagate many more that will be transplanted on our own (future) property later. It is the perfect solution for our in between time. These are the bushes we planted:

Elderberries: John & Adams

Thornless blackberries – Prime Ark Freedom, Araphao, & Natchez.

Thorny blackeberries – Kiowa

The varieties were selected so they stretch the harvest season. While we wanted to avoid thorns as much as we can, the potential of having the world’s largest blackberry is hard to pass up, so we are trying out a Kiowa as well.

dormant-berry-plants

Mulching.
Because we spread a mix of leaves and compost in the fall, only one layer of mulch was added during our last trip to Knoxville, a layer of hay. When we return again in a couple of months, we will spread a layer of finished compost over the garden to give the soil a boost going into the growing season.

Rebuilding the fence.
Our bamboo fence we built in 2013 was beginning to get a little flimsy on us. Granted, we did beat it up a little over the years. Nevertheless it was time to reconstruct our security system (aka fence). Ryan got the fence reconstructed but left a small section loosely tied together while we consider our gate options.

We picked up Heavy Duty Steel T-Posts from Home Depot to replace our bamboo posts and reused the 4’ Galvanized Steel Mesh fence we had already been using.

DIY-garden-fence

After Ryan had driven the T-posts into the ground, the fence was attached with aluminum fence ties. While Ryan secured the posts and mesh together, I pulled the mesh tight to assure a taught fence. Clearly, I had the easy job during the fence redo- nothing short of a gentleman, my husband.

securing-a-garden-fence

There is still more work ahead of us in our away garden, but this was a great start. In the meantime, what was planted will have time to acclimate and establish itself for the spring ahead. We can’t wait to get back and see how those little babies berries have changed when we return in a couple months.

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