Starting a New Garden

Dreaming of, planning, and building a garden are my favorite aspects of gardening. I like selecting plants, tending to them, and enjoying the fruits of my labors, but it’s the actual garden development and construction that gives me the most satisfaction. Standing quietly, looking at a bare spot for hours or days, and envisioning the potential that lies in the soil offers me a true connection with the process of creation, growth, and fulfillment.

Many flower, grass, and xeriscape beds have adorned my landscape over the years and planning the steps through completion have evolved with each of them. Staking out a space and bringing it to bloom is fascinating, but it is in the development of vegetable gardens that my true gardening spirit soars.

I’ve enjoyed the effort and success of two major vegetable gardens. One began as a rock-covered slope that evolved into a productive, terraced, lush and verdant space. Over the course of eight years it progressed from barren, sandy soil to an amalgam of beneficial amendments producing healthy plants in a challenging environment.

The starting point

The starting point

The finished vegetable garden

The finished vegetable garden

The second garden began as a sun-baked patch of prairie sod and evolved into a deer-resistant, biochar-infused, raised-bed nirvana at 7,500 feet elevation. Three years of labor have just begun to lay the foundation for future growth.

The open space

The open space

The transformed vegetable garden

The transformed vegetable garden

Now I have the opportunity to birth a third vegetable garden. Last week we closed the contract on a house back in the city of Colorado Springs and will begin the move in a few months. The new garden spot will be a full 1,000 feet lower in elevation and grant me two to four extra weeks in the growing season. It too has deer and a new challenge, rabbits.

A rabbit in the front yard

A rabbit in the front yard

A previous resident had a good-sized vegetable garden there many years ago, but it is overgrown and in great need of repair. A rusting iron skeleton of hoops cover a large bed that will soon support a plastic cover protecting the plants beneath. The basics are there, and it offers great potential.

The forgotten garden

The forgotten garden

Huge stands of scrub oak cover the lot in intertwining masses. Dying, spindly pines and harshly-hacked junipers fill forgotten spaces. Ignored lawns are now nothing but eroding dirt. Supposedly-decorative rock smothers large spans of abused soil. It is a perfect gardening palette and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to create a beautiful landscape.

The barren back yard

The barren back yard

Already I’ve spent long minutes standing, observing, and imagining. The ground is currently frozen, but the process of clearing the brush, cutting straggly trees, and terracing the slopes will start soon. As soon as the soil is warm enough to work, amending and improving begin.

As with past gardens, I’ll document each step. I’ll discuss the missteps and successes. I expect to make mistakes along the way, but also to learn many new things. On these pages, photos and words will share my thoughts and spread my knowledge.

This will be my biggest gardening undertaking to date. An entire landscape screams to be transformed. In the vegetable garden the positive transformation may be quickest to observe, but it won’t be the only space encountering a new life. This effort will be years in the making and I anticipate the results with joy.

Join me as the adventure begins.

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