Merry Garden, 2016

June 22, 2016   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

A natural garden pathway using logs and mulch.

The growing season is off to a great start, and as usual, my eyeballs/stomach expect more out of our garden than ever before. My spacial planning skills need a reality check too; I never seem to do that well planning the ground to accomodate what’ll inevitably be invasion of the crazy squash, but I do try. We made the bed itself larger last season to effectively double its size, and it did not let down (except for the bell peppers, those were lame). We left the metal fencing up all winter long, and simply needed to till the soil when spring rolled around. Maybe 2017 will be the year that we add real posts and fence pieces.

This year, it’s all about the:

  • tomatoes (6 varieties + roughly 4,000 baby plants scattered throughout the garden that self-seeded from last year’s crop)
  • jalapenos
  • some seeds from a CSA pepper that I regret vaguely labeling simply as “hot round red pepper”
  • garlic (just trimmed the scapes!)
  • ~6 acorn squash
  • giant beans (aimed to crawl up 1/3 of the trellis I built last year – love it so much)
  • sugar snap peas (to occupy some space on the remaining 2/3 of the trellis)
  • pickling cucumbers
  • basil
  • lettuce (which is to say whenever we finish a store-bought head, I drop the remains in the ground in hopes that it’ll flourish)
  • a single radish (school project from J)
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • and strawberries (sorry to say that I think some furry crapper already got to 90% of the fruit that was on the as of last weekend, despite the plants being fully wrapped in chicken wire.)

In addition, this year we sprinkled in some flowers too: zinnias, marigolds, and giant sunflowers.

Unlike previous years when I lined the garden with weed block cloth to keep things neat, we had a different inspiration for our garden this year, and it involved lots, and lots of repurposed natural wood. If you want to venture back almost 3 years, a large tree fell in the backyard and while we promptly cleaned it up, the chopped trunk and larger branches have been hoarded in the backyard drying while we figured out what we could do with them (besides selling them to West Elm obv, which could easily have manufactured 50 of its $249 Natural Tree-Stump Side Tables).

It wasn’t until earlier this spring when STIHL loaned us a few of its chainsaws as a product testing opportunity that we decided to cut most of the dried logs into 1-2″ slivers, thinking that they might be useful as natural stepping stones or a nice pathway or something to that effect that I probably saw on Pinterest. The garden was the perfect test spot for any form of stepping stone installation, and we figured if the coverage of the slivers was fairly dense it would totally cut down on weeds. We cut through dozens of logs over the course of 2 days and made a completely ginormous pile of wood stepping circles, which Julia laid diligently for us.

Cutting logs for garden stepping stones.
Comically, and as you might expect due to my previous comment on spacial planning, the pile that seemed like it would cover 4,000 square feet really only covered like 150 sq. ft., so I rethought the plan and simply used the pieces to define the borders of the various beds within the garden. Good looking, good definition for our space (and a f-r-e-e upcycle).


What’s also convenient is that we also had a large pile of wood chips from the chipper left to dry/decompose in the backyard (and wood chips = mulch). So, while I had briefly considered splurging on some bags of nice dark mulch, repurposing the natural wood chips was easy (and also f-r-e-e), and because I laid it thick to create a defined pathway, it has been doing a great job keeping the weeds at bay.

The result is something we haven’t had before in this garden – an actual walkway that will let us navigate from the tomatoes back to the sugar snap peas with ease.

Garden pathway using free wood chip mulch and log border.

Late June might seem like I’m behind the game, but I actually snapped these a few weeks ago. The plants are flourishing and the 4th of July tomato plant even has little fruits on it, which is better performance than I can report from recent memory. The raspberries are rocking and the herbs are getting herb-normous. Grow little plants, grow!

  • Tim Long
    2 years ago - Reply

    Do you feel it is important to seal the log slices used as stepping stones? I have some I just have not cut yet, but didn’t know if I should seal them or not. Thanks!

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      I don’t know that you could ever seal them well enough to prevent decay when used outside. Ours are getting a little mossy, but I still think they’ll hold up a few seasons without any treatment.

    • Jonathan Hix
      1 year ago -

      Tim, it would depend on the climate in which you live. If it is dry, not humid, they will last longer. :)

  • Tim Long
    2 years ago - Reply

    Thanks for the input Emily. :)

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