Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Defrosting the garden

The garden is slowly defrosting. The gate is no longer blocked by drifts, for starters.

The potato beds, which were buried a few weeks ago, are now bare. This photo was taken February 15:

...and this a couple days ago:

One of the boxes holding grapes has weeds that will need to come out -- but it also has dozens of tiny thyme plants growing, seeded from the herb tire right next to it.

The thyme tire (no photo, sorry) is one of my older ones from several years ago, back when I was still figuring out the concept of tire gardening and foolishly put the tires on bare ground -- which meant, of course, weeds grew right up through them. We transported the tires full of herbs to a new spot, which kept the weeds intact. The weeds are easy enough to pull, but not the grasses, and over the last couple years the grasses have started chocking out the thyme. I'm going to empty the tire, fill it with fresh soil, transplant the baby thyme plants and start over.

The baby orchard is nearly free of snow.

Only about a week ago, there were huge drifts nearly burying them.

Now this is all that's left:

The young fruit trees look healthy and eager to bud. Here's a peach:

And here's an apple:

Not everything is snow-free, however. This quarter of the garden is still fairly buried.

Many of the Brussels sprouts I planted last year (and which got infested with aphids) have overwintered very well, and will produce seeds if I let them. I'll let one plant go to seed and pull the rest.

Most of the herbs did fine, but I suspect the rosemary didn't make it. (Shucks. I have to accept that rosemary doesn't overwinter very well.)

Here's oregano, which would seed itself across the entire garden if I let it:

Here's spearmint. It started as one tiny plant I bought at the local hardware store and is diligently spreading through the whole tire, which I'm encouraging. The nice thing about gardening in tires is I can plant spreading herbs such as mints and not have to worry about it infesting other parts of the garden.

Here's sage, which is the toughest herb I've ever seen. It handles winters beautifully.

The blueberry tires are free of snow, and the young plants are budding profusely. We might even get some fruit this year.

You can see the dramatic advantage of using tires in a snowy northern climate. The soil heats up and melts off the surrounding snow much faster.

So, while it's clearly too early to do anything in the garden at the moment, it's high time I get Brussels sprouts and cayenne peppers planted indoors. I'll probably get a jumpstart on broccoli as well. Spring! Glorious spring!


  1. you are fortunate. up here by athol we still have 3 ft of snow on the ground.

  2. Love your pictures and the update.
    Food for thought: I could overwinter the rosemary that grew along the west side of my house. It was protected on one side by the house foundation and another side by cement steps leading up to the house. Just saying - don't necessarily give up on the rosemary. It just may need a more protected location then the tires.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  3. So what do you put beneath the tires? I need to start apple trees this year, up in Nova Scotia; this looks like a great help!

    1. Tarps and gravel. We used billboard tarps which we got for free; unfortunately the source dried up so they're no longer available in our area. But they're thick and perfect for weed control. We anchored everything with gravel, which provides drainage from under the tires as well.

      Here are a couple of posts that go into more detail of how we built the tire garden (Don was ill about the time we were doing this):

      - Patrice

  4. According to my now friend realtor, the one that helped with my house, he said that my specific area is a snow belt. Thanks heaps, wished I had known in advance, so I am a bit envious of your lack of snow. On a more important note, I have also been doing raised bed gardening, I also flopped the boxes on a crummy lawn and sure enough the weeds loved it. This year now that I am in North Idaho and on acreage the most flat and sunniest spot selected for a garden had a noticeable amount of weeds of course and a lot of little critter holes. As luck would have it, our metal roof had to be replaced. I simply placed the older roofing material on the ground shingle style, (for drainage) layered that with small rock next will be the painted and waiting box frames worked on last year. Those will be placed on top of the system, lined with cardboard so the soil does not wash out and bark collected from wood chopping will go for paths. Of course last but certainly not least a fence to keep the above ground critters out. For all the work this had better work. Seeds are beginning top pop in the attic and my gardening itch is getting stronger with each passing day. Anyone out there know if a dogwood tree is safe with some deer and Molly Moose? I would love to have one.

  5. Grow your rosemary indoors. It smells lovely and you won't have to worry about overwintering.