Things are moving right along with the cottage garden.  I’ve been trying to spend at least an hour each day working in the garden.  The weather has been so nice that I set the alarm on my phone to keep myself from neglecting my work and playing in the garden all day.

A while back I mentioned that a client had given me a few segments of picket fence.  Because of her sweet offering we were only required to buy 2 more segments and the posts to construct the short fence line we had in mind.  I have been dreaming about a home with a picket fence ever since my first visit to my Great Aunt Nelda’s in Elberta, Alabama over 20 years ago.  Due to our busy schedules the construction of it was slow, but my heart soared when it was finally in place.

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DSC05921There are still a few individual pickets that need to be put in place and eventually we will put decorative “caps” on each of the posts.  At one time I would have painted this fence white, but I’m a more natural gal.  We’re going to stain the fence and seal it to prevent any rotting.

Well before the fence was put in I began weeding out a 1 1/2 to 2 foot strip where the fence would go.  If you look at the first two pictures you can see it.  Fortunately I have learned my lesson about weeding around picket fences from the house we rented from my cousin 3 years ago.  It can be a real pain.  This time I was determined to be prepared.

After we put the fence up we put down landscape fabric (also called weed cloth) along this strip cutting out squares to place around the posts.

DSC06180This will reduce the amount of weeds considerably.  It is a challenge getting the root of weeds around these fences.  Notice I only use it here because I will be planting a flower bed near the fence and the fabric takes oxygen away from plant roots and doesn’t allow your mulch to give back to the soil.  The last step is to place landscape pins in the fabric to anchor it down.

After I weeded the strip, I weeded the area where the flower bed will go.  This has been a long process because my front yard is nothing but weeds.  Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I  cleared the area I wanted for the bed.  The next step was to prepare the soil for amending.  To do this we simply took a shovel and tilled up the soil a little bit just to loosen things up.

DSC06182Once we had that done it was time to bring in the well decomposed manure given to us by a friend whose pets are a horse, a few ponies, donkeys, goats, chickens, and peacocks.


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When we bring in the manure we don’t just add it as an extra layer.  You should always mix in the amendment with your existing soil.  If you don’t your plants will go into shock when their roots go deeper than the manure layer.  Also, the rich manure could possibly burn your plants if you don’t mix it in.  The goal is to change your soil composition.  I tell my clients to fold in the manure with the existing soil just like you do in cooking.  Afterwards, just  rake it to make it level.

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I really wish this was the point in the process where I could start planting, but unfortunately a couple important factors stand in my way.  Because I used manure and not compost I need to let the soil “sit” for a few weeks.  From what I could tell what we were given was not fresh, but I still don’t know how long it had been sitting and I don’t want to take any chances.  Because I am so excited about planting I could be tempted to ignore this and risk it, however, I have no idea what kind of sun exposure this bed will receive.

There are trees that line this bed, but from what I remember last summer there are parts of the day that receive some intense sunshine.  I am waiting until May when the trees will have fully leafed out and the sun will be higher in the sky.  As I watch, it will determine the future design of this bed.  Will it be shade loving hydrangeas?  Perhaps daylilies, tiger lilies, and stargazers who grow to the sun?  Only time will tell.  For the moment I have applied a thick layer of mulch to prevent all those weeds I just pulled from popping their evil sprouts back up.

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