Friday, July 27, 2012

Garden Bones

We have some gardening challenges here at the cottage.  The entire place is on a fairly steep, rocky slope, there is lots of shade, and the only place with enough sunlight is around a Black Walnut tree.  In case you didn't know, Black Walnuts are not friendly neighbors.  They release a chemical called Juglone that kills many plants, tomatoes and peppers not being the least of them.  So what to do?

We could cut the tree down, but it would be years before the toxin dissappates from the soil as the roots break down.  Besides, it's a lovely tree that shades the house in the afternoon.  So I've decided on ferrocement enclosed beds.  This will allow me to control the soil, will drain well during our heavy rains, and keep out the Black Walnut roots.  Ferrocement is basically stucco over a wire mesh frame.  It is incredibly strong and can be made to any shape desired.  Since I had such a flexible material, I figured I might as well make something extraordinary.  My garden will spiral out from the Black Walnut tree, becoming even stronger with its curves.

I managed to get the main wire structure in before the heat of summer.  Now it requires a double layer of chicken wire and the cement coating.  I can do the chicken wire anytime, but the cement must wait until the coolness of fall to cure properly.  Meanwile I am left with merely the skeleton of a garden.

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