Monday, April 21, 2014

RAISED BED MULCH IS DONE

I can say, without hesitation, that this has been THE single hardest thing I've ever done at our farm.  It took two full days to get it all done.  I have blisters on my hands (even with gloves), my arms and shoulders are sore and my legs feel like I've run a marathon.  But we're so happy with the end result.

My boss said something funny to me in a text when I sent him a picture.  He said "the smell of mulch is really nice, but after a few yards of shoveling, the smell of a cold beer is even better".  I'm not a beer person but now I totally understand, ha.



Friday morning, about 9am, the truck showed up and dump ten cubic yards of black mulch into the yard in front of the garden.  After using a regular shovel for an hour, I walked down to 2nd Family's house and asked if I could borrow a pitchfork.  There's a twist on borrowing a cup of sugar!  That helped immensely.  I would work for about 50 minutes, then take a break on the porch for 10 minutes and then start up again.  All day. I lost count of cart fillings.  The first day I got the entire garden area, about 1300 square feet, at least covered.  But that was only about 60% of the pile.



Side note, when it was delivered on Friday, it was a very cool morning.  After the truck left, I noticed steam coming off the mulch.  It was pretty neat to witness.




It was just a matter of filling the cart and then rolling it into the garden, and dumping it out, over and over and over again.  Then I used a rake (and later, my foot) to spread it around. 


On the second day, we bought this awesome 10-tine pitchfork, it was absolutely invaluable in finishing the project (it scooped about three times as much at a time).  Between that and the Rubbermaid cart we bought a few weeks back, the job was much easier to finish.





Before we unveil the end result of all the hard work, let's remind you of what it looked like when I started.  The strip down the middle was where I didn't put the weed block cloth because I knew I'd be running the cart back and forth with the mulch in it.  So after that was done in the rest of the garden, I put the weed fabric down and mulched the center section.

BEHOLD:
Raised bed garden mulched
The entrance to our garden in all it's mulched glory!

Black mulch
This is the back to front view.

Raised vegetable beds
Garlic/Shallot bed, herb bed, eggplant/pepper bed, and tomato bed.  The last bed at the far right of the photo will be a squash bed.

Black mulch around raised beds
The seven beds in this photo will still need to be irrigated and have some more soil and compost put in so they will become future expansion.

I had a friend of the farm email me and ask why we used all this beautiful mulch on the ground and not in the beds and was it going to be wasted just being on the pathways on top of the weed block fabric?  Great question that might help others as well.  First, we will be adding mulch around the veggies but probably not this.  This is dyed black and while it's a natural dye, we aren't sure if that would affect anything growing.  As for the mulch, we had a decision to make.  With the enclosed garden, mowing and/or edging grass was a mess.  It grew fast, it spread weeds into the beds and it was just too difficult.  We had to put something down between the beds.  Gravel was a choice but it was very expensive and after all this, I can't even imagine putting hundreds of shovels full of gravel down in the same way, ha.  The mulch came in natural, which we thought was kind of blah.  It came in red, which they overuse down these parts in shopping center and fast food flowerbeds.  That left black.  They were all the same price.  We chose black.  Cedar was a choice but it was twice as much as the regular.  This is a great quality shredded mulch.

We like to think of this area like a flower bed.  In your flower bed, you mulch around your pretty bushes so that they are the star of the show (and keep weeds to a minimum in the process).  Here, the raised beds (and veggies growing in them) are the stars and we want them to stand out as well.


It's such a relief to have this done.  I'm not sure how long it will look this beautiful but for now, we are so pleased with the end result.


38 comments:

dindin said...

It looks like a job well done. Might Isuggest that you consider purchasing a "red dragon" flame kind of thingy. It connects to a propane tank and when those nasty weeds come up all around the edges of the mulch (mine does too) you can just hit it with the flame and it shrivels up the weed. I am old but find that this is a great way to de-weed without using chemicals.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

job well done!!! t looks wonderful too. i hope you have good luck with this. when i first made my gardens, i mulched everywhere. as soon as the mulch dried out and turned a bland color, i found it hard to walk on and hard to wheel the wheelbarrow on. now i have a very fine gravel which is ok but weeds grow through it. however, this year i started spraying it with vinegar and it is taking care of the weeds. i am thinking i might top it with straw which looks really nice, keeps down the weeds and can be used in my compost bins at the end of the year.

Gail said...

Thank goodness you had a dump truck! Imagine how difficult it would have been using a wheelbarrow to get the whole load in the garden.

This is beautiful

Dani said...

Good job!! I can feel your shoulder / arm pain!

Reckon the suggestion of a cold beer is one that RMan would highly endorse :)

Mom at home said...

It looks great! The labor you save not mowing is priceless. We have been moving raised beds this week and it's a lot of hard work. Just getting the yard mowed seemed monumental. Two barrels of lettuce and onions are poking their heads out and it's so exciting to see after such a horrible winter. I can't wait to see what you grow in the coming months.

Marcia said...

It looks very nice. Is that a potting bench I see along one side of the fence?

DFW said...

Very nice!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hay! i just found this on pinterst and thought it might help if you have ant problems again?
Simply pour 2 cups of CLUB SODA directly in the center of a fire ant mound. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier than air and displaces oxygen which suffocates the queen and the other ants. The whole colony will be dead within about two days. Each mound must be treated individually and a one liter bottle of club soda will kill 2 to 3 mounds.

Simply pour 2 cups of CLUB SODA directly in the center of a fire ant mound. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier than air and displaces oxygen which suffocates the queen and the other ants. The whole colony will be dead within about two days. Each mound must be treated individually and a one liter bottle of club soda will kill 2 to 3 mounds.

FionaG said...

Job well done!! What a thing of beauty. I just love before and after shots and it's great you have them because before you know it, you will forget what the before looks like especially when the beds are full with plants and the weeds start to reclaim their space. At least with the weedmat and mulch, the weeding will be much easier. Thank you for explaining about the colour. I marvelled at the dark mulch you guys get over their, not once thinking that it was dyed. The hard yakka is now done, time for the fun bits.

Linda said...

WOW! Great job! Looks fantastic!

MaryJo said...

Well done terrific job!
As I said yesterday you are working so hard you make me feel exhausted!!

Practical Parsimony said...

That makes me hurt just thinking about the work involved. I know you have weed block, but seeds can land on top of the mulch and germinate. I wish my place looked so neat and ready for plants and seedlings. In the first picture of the post, what is that little roof thing. I cannot see anything underneath it, just a roof. Now, I cannot see well, so there may be something else there. Why all the trash cans?

Texan said...

Looks great! Lost of hard work I know!

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Very nice looking garden beds my friend, I love all the black mulch you placed in between.
We have to figure away for your zen machine to help with big projects like that. Maybe get a bucket for the front on it??

Cr said...

That's just beautiful. Definitely worthy of your inspiration photos. Can't wait to see it with all the veggies growing.

Gammy Tammy said...

Wow... what a chore... and how beautiful is YOUR garden area!

Gilby Will said...

Very inspiring.

Margaret said...

Beautiful beds - I love the spacious pathways! We don't have that much usable area for the vegetable garden so our paths have to be pretty small. I too have a load of mulch on my driveway for the veggie garden paths - with it's sister right beside it (a load of triple mix!) for the raised beds we are adding this year. Nothing uber fancy like what you have though!

Anonymous said...

Your vegetable garden is truly a thing of beauty! You sure put a LOT of work into it but now you can enjoy the wonderful process of planting, watching the plants grow, and then, the best of all, eating fresh organic veggies from your own garden. Put in a comfortable garden bench and have a glass of wine as you survey the results of all your hard work.

Texas Rose

SmartAlex said...

As someone who has used between 7 and 12 cubic yards of cedar mulch each year for the past 15 years.... I empathize with you. But is there anything prettier or more satisfying than fresh mulch? Not much, The garden looks great!

1st Man said...

Thank you much!!! red dragon? I've never heard of that but it sounds like genius. I hope the mulch isn't flammable, LOL! I love the suggestion though, thanks.

1st Man said...

Gravel might be our ultimate goal. Vinegar is a good idea as well. Thanks for the suggestions. I never thought about straw, great idea.

1st Man said...

Yes, the rubbermaid card thing was awesome. It held a lot but rolled easily. Of course I must have done a hundred of those or more. It was like the never-ending pile, ha.

1st Man said...

Thank you! Thankfully no back pain just shoulders arms and calves. LOL about the cold beer. I came home to cold wine which was good to me, ha.

1st Man said...

The mowing was a nightmare inside the fenced in area. Trying to get the mower around the beds, grass clippings flying out (couldn't use the bag because it wouldn't go between the beds with that on). It's definitely going to be much easier and that's why we wanted that. Thanks for the kind words!

1st Man said...

You have a good eye. ;-) More on that in an upcoming post.

1st Man said...

Thank you much (mulch? LOL)

1st Man said...

Now THAT is an amazing idea! Thank you so much. I am so going to try this. It's certainly all natural. Can't hurt, right? Thank you again, will DEFINITELY do this and post back here about it.

1st Man said...

Well thank you kindly! Definitely had to put the before in. It will help remind us of the beginnings, ha. I'm hoping that exactly as you said, the mulch and weed cloth will keep it to a minimum. It should be easier to maintain, i just have to make sure I don't ever let it get out of control.

Yep, the mulch comes in natural, reddish, black, and sometimes a yellowish color and a chocolate brown. I'm not sure what they use but most of the time it's all natural. No difference in price so we figured why not.

Definitely looking forward to the fun bits!!

1st Man said...

Thank you so much!!! Makes me feel good. :-)

1st Man said...

You are too kind. Thanks. It was hard work but the payoff was SO worth it.

1st Man said...

LOL deifnitely sore muscles but worth it. Yes, I found a few weeds trying their best to sprout up in the mulch, but I took care of that. It was pretty easy. I think since we'll be out there pretty much every weekend, I can keep it in check. "So he says now", ha.

Oh, that's the house!! The farmhouse. It's about 150 feet away from the garden so it looks small but that's the little farmhouse that could, ha. As for the trash cans, the two black things on opposite sides are the compost bins we bought last fall. Then the metal ones will soon be home to another veggie we're going to try to grow. More on that when it happens (soon).

1st Man said...

Thank you so much!! Always nice to hear from you!!!

1st Man said...

Well thank you!! I wish there was something for the zen machine...but even if I could get something, it wouldn't fit through the gate into the garden. Boo! But it would be fun to use elsewhere on the property!!!

Emily Handler said...

Looks great! I have to ask though, was black the only option color-wise? Because the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was that walking on that with bare feet or sandals is going to be terribly hot!

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Eeks. I remember V and I getting our driveway filled with it in the red version. (To mulch around the fence under the scrubs and trees. Keep from needing to mow against it) That was a lot of work! I feel yah!

SkippyMom said...

So I leave the blogosphere for a little over half a year and I come back to this? DANG this is STUNNING! I am so happy and proud of you - you got your garden. YAY! ::skippyhappydance::

We moved last fall and now live on an acre of land - not much by your standards - but it truly is a lot to us. We live in the hills of Virginia now, no more suburbia for us. I so wanted to plant a garden this past summer, but had neither the strength nor the energy for it.

Your garden is truly, truly inspiring. Again, so, so happy for you.

Kate said...

Looks GREAT! I just had 1 1/2 yards of Black Mulch delivered, I can't even imagine what TEN must have looked like in your yard! Well Done, and you'll have to give me some instructions on how to build those Beautiful Raised Beds. I'll be working on them as soon as the ground thaws up here in Lancaster PA.