Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our urban wasteland kitchen garden

Our kitchen garden started out as a driveway if you recall. Last year we managed to break up and haul out 30+ tons/1800 sq. feet of what was the former driveway. Don't worry, we still have enough driveway to park three cars. This newly claimed area was to allow for two additions: a kitchen garden and an orchard. The orchard is well on its way and the 7 new fruit trees are all doing well.

From 2010 Landscape

I've been a little behind on the kitchen garden/potager. First, this area looks a lot like an urban wasteland since it's as hard as a rock, has poor drainage and not a stitch of plantable soil. Pretty much the single worst set of qualifications for a kitchen garden. Earlier this year I wrote about the project plan for this area and how we're going to transform it into a kitchen garden/green space.

To start the garden project, in the last couple of weeks I managed to get the concrete block retaining wall installed that borders between our kitchen garden space and the 5+ acre lot next to us. The property line is marked with a low creek area that flows with water all winter and helps prevent us from floating away. To help prevent erosion and minimize the risk of flooding, we installed a retaining wall and dug the creek out. In addition, we're raising the soil level of our property approximately 4".

From 2010 Landscape

My least favorite aspect of this project is that when it's all said and done, you won't even be able to see this retaining wall since it will be behind our fence. It was just one of those necessary projects that had to be done to move to the next step.

After finishing the retaining wall, I started laying the brick paths. The kitchen garden is a long shotgun area (18'x36') and will be a high trafficked area since it's the main way to get to the back of the house. Therefore, I wanted permanent paths that were wide enough to haul supplies and lumber to the back where our workshop is located. Today, I completed the first section of the path using brick I found on Craigslist.

From 2010 Landscape
This path will tie into a small 9'x10' patio that will be directly viewable from the picture window in our dining room, and will then connect on the other side with another short path that goes to the gate to our backyard.

As you can see from the picture, the area is very rocky. The dirt is hard packed clay that's impossible to get a shovel in. Eventually, to finish this area I will be building a series of 10+ raised beds for planting in. Once the raised beds are built, I'll haul in decent soil soil. I don't expect to start getting the raised beds built till next year, but it's a perfect late winter/early spring project.

I hope to complete all of the brick work for this by the end of August. I have to balance this task with painting windows and trim, since we're trying to finish up the house painting project. Before you know it, it'll be the rain season here again, but at least this year I'll be standing in front of the picture window looking out and admiring the nice brick work.

1 comment:


Im wondering if there is enough clean water in your drainage creek to use a hydraulic ram - allowing you to tap into a free source of water for the garden.