Veggie garden makeover, part 1

Continuing my pledge to pay more attention to the edibles in my garden this year with the goal of getting a respectable crop of goodies to eat, it's time to do something about the place they will be growing. As I mentioned before, the bed was given over to the cypress vines last year when the edibles didn't thrive on the neglect I lavished upon them.

Today the vines come down, as do the trellises, and the while bed gets cleaned in preparation for what comes next.


You may notice that the fence is not in A-1 condition. The gate is keeping its shape only because of the chicken wire it seems:

I'm going to totally ignore the fence and gate today though -- I can repair those another day.

Besides the obvious bushels of vines I need to remove, there are some remnants of herbs and at least one perennial that need to be cleaned up, and lot of weeds on the ground.

There are also six different trellises that I'll be taking down:

Most use smooth electrical conduit for the support posts, but one of them is made up of three lengths of rebar. That one will be tough to clear out.

After some "fun" vine pulling that dusts me with a snow of brown particles and cypress seeds, I've made a good start:

and I can get started on the mess on the ground. Last year's kale plant skeletons:

There are a lot of garlic chives here, mainly in the strip outside of the fence:

Pulling their dessicated foliage scents my gloves of onions, or garlic. Whatever garlic chives smell like to you -- I can't really decide. That fragrance is overcome though when I start pulling the basil plants, which I think were lemon basil:

Oh, that's a delicious smell! If only I had some rosemary back here to pull too.

There are some cool-season turf grasses (bluegrass I think) that spread into the veggie area every year:

It's impossible for me to pull all of it because of the fence and the "rocks" that surround it. I'm seriously considering removing those "rocks" -- actually chunks of concrete -- because they make weeding so difficult. Tree seedlings always come up through the fence, weaving their way to invincibility:

Back to the trellises for a minute -- I've left most of the dried pods from the green beans:

I like the way dried bean pods look in the winter. Plus I'm lazy in the fall and would rather leave most garden cleanup tasks until the spring.

I'll collect many of these for possible replanting this year.

Halfway through this job I've realized that it's probably easier if I leave the vines and pull them off after the trellises are taken down. Less reaching and debris in the face that way.

These plastic "zip ties" hold the trellis fencing to the support posts:

In some cases exposure to the sunlight (UV light) has weakened them sufficiently so I just need to pull and they break:

But several of them are still strong enough and need to be cut off.

The first trellis is out, and carefully laid upon the lawn (ok, thrown):

With the trellis gone, the veggie bed is ready for planting! 

Okay, maybe it needs a little more work first.

It is definitely easier getting the vines off of the trellises when they're on the ground. Most of the vines come off quite easily, although there are a couple of tough ones:

I think I'll let that one decay for another year, because it's really stuck. If I had a large torch or flame thrower I would burn all of these vine fragments off, but alas, flame throwers are not carried by my local garden centers.

I saved the "best" trellis for last, or at least one of its support poles. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my nemesis:

This is the pole that I've tried pulling out of the ground the last couple of years, and it wouldn't budge. That's why I've left all of the trellises alone, even though I haven't been entirely happy with them. This year I left this pole for last instead of trying to pull it first, so it's got to come out now. I can't leave one pole standing!

I gave it several good pulls, but it still wasn't budging. The solution? Dig it out. 

Well, at least dig around it a little bit. It's amazing how removing just a few inches of soil will allow a stubbornly-planted pole to pull free.

The same thing goes for the rebar trellis. Its knobby poles are stuck fast, so need to be dug out a bit. The decorative top to this I built a few years ago makes it more difficult, as the poles are quite solidly connected:

I don't remember exactly how I built that, but I'm going to congratulate (and curse) myself for making it so sturdy.

In the end, big hammer won. (Big hammer almost always wins.)

With those trellises gone, I can see more weeds. Wild strawberries, which thrive back here and are a problem all year long:

Also, more tree seedlings:

I'm considering starting a tree nursery. Apparently I'm quite good at growing a wide range of saplings.

So there it is, a blank slate. I haven't seen the veggie garden looking trellis-free for a few years, so it's a bit of an adjustment. It's exciting though, as it leaves me free to start on part two of this project, which I will post about tomorrow.

A clean planting bed and tired, dirty body. Is there a better way to end the day for a gardener in the spring?


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Masha  – (March 13, 2011 at 9:03 PM)  

This looks like a lot of work, but you sound really determined too. I am looking forward to coming back to your blog at the end of summer and seeing pictures of heaps of veggies you will gather.

VP  – (March 14, 2011 at 3:13 AM)  

It's certainly the time of the year for lots of clearing :)

Thanks for your visit over at my place :)

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