Category Archives: Garden

roof, break, and life…

Since we constructed the run for the chickens that could potentially withstand an earthquake, which we do not have many of here, we re-roofed our house ourselves, planted the raised beds, crushed one foot, learned to walk with crutches, are in the beginning of a 2-week long trip to Australia (on crutches), and are getting caught up on some much needed rest!

We planted 4 blackberry bushes a few months ago that were about 6-8″ tall.  The largest of the four had one bloom on it, which, with a huge smile on my face is a nice little green blackberry!!!  Most of the fruit trees we planted 3 years ago have fruit on them.

The only challenge we continually face are aphids and these little tiny white mites…  anyone have any organic suggestions?

Not just chickens…

I know it seems that all aspects of our lives have stopped to watch Chickens.
14_0202 KohlrabiJust look at this beautiful purple kohlrabi!

Jack Russels & roof rats…

If only I could bottle Roxy’s energy & determination…  We have been in the process of pruning our older orange trees to help keep them healthy.  I was up on the ladder, pruning away, when i noticed the yard was very quiet…  Now, for those of you who have children, you know this is a tell-tell of trouble brewing.  I looked around the backyard, and sure enough Roxy was in with the tomatoes digging to her heart’s content.  AARRGGHH!

Well, we fixed her… and the roof rats who will soon be finished with dining on the oranges.

We constructed hinged screens for each of the beds out of 1×2 Douglas Fir studs and 1/2″ welded wire.

Hinging the screens allows me easy access to the beds to weed, add plants, or harvest.

Been busy…

The beds are moved!

Dharma is busy at work, keeping them lizard free…

The soil in the original beds was compost we purchased from a local vendor.  After the fact, we found out it was extremely woody.  When we moved the beds, we placed 75% +/- of this compost at the bottom of the new beds.  We then placed a layer of alfalfa, in a lasagna-style of gardening.  After the alfalfa layer, we mixed the remaining woody compost, soil (clay/sand mix) from older beds we have had in our backyard for quite a while, compost from our bins, and some purchased organic soil mix.  We layered this mix with another layer of alfalfa in an attempt to build the soil.

In the first bed we moved, we planted snow peas, strawberries, basil and eggplant.

In the second bed, we planted tomatoes, three different types of peppers, and more basil.

Moving beds…

Today, we shoveled all of the soil mix out of one of our original beds.  It is now sitting on tarps in the middle of our back yard.  Little did we know, we really built the raised beds to last.

Gardening in the back yard is a great way to wear dogs out.  They follow us from one side of the yard to the other, making sure we are safe from all lizards and doves, eat the compost, and supervise the removal and transport of all soil.   This can be quite annoying in the moment, but right now, it is an absolute wonder – all of the dogs are sound asleep!

Seeds are in!

This was the weekend we planted the beds. As I mentioned before, all our seeds are organic and/or heirloom varieties purchased from Botanical Interests.  I was going to tell you a lovely story about the artist who illustrates each of the varieties of seeds…  But, of the seeds we purchased for our garden, almost all of the packets noted a different artist.  Now I think that is pretty cool!

It’s still pretty warm here, 105+ degrees as the day time high!  Yes, we are ready for the heat to end…  At this time of year, I try to remind myself that it’s no different than being in snow country in the spring, when it warms up a bit and then you get hit with another snow storm.  But, I digress…

Here’s our garden plan.  We planted quite a few different vegetables and a few herbs, some of which I have never grown before.  We planted the Fava beans along the back concrete block wall with all of the other seeds planted in the front of this bed.  In the very front of the bed (east side), there is one row of Marigolds to deter pests.

Garden Plan

We planted Nasturtiums in the very front (east side) of this planter.  I love Nasturtiums!  The locations for each seed was based on the companion planting guidelines I could find.  Fingers are crossed X X

Let the watering begin!


Here’s the final raised garden beds with oiled top rails for places to sit!  I am so pleased with how they turned out!

Finished planter beds

Beauty in the details…

After we filled the beds with compost, we added 2×6 redwood top rails for a place to sit while planting, weeding, or just admiring the growth.  We used dowels to connect the rail to the 4×4 framework below.  Roxy had to be in the center of the action!

Sitting bench

Here’s the end dowel connecting the two top rail pieces together.  Sheer beauty!

End dowel

Raised Planter Beds

When we moved into this house, there were raised planter beds constructed out of wood.  They were very quickly destroyed by termites.  There’s a saying here in town – ‘there are two kinds of houses, houses that have termites and those that are going to have termites.’

Raised Bed Cosntruction

Our raised beds are constructed from 4×4 redwood posts sunk into the earth 10″ in each of the corners (except the two that but up against the block wall).  The two mid-section posts are not buried.  They are there to provide a place for the overlapping panels to screw into.

Panel overlap

The side panels are 26″ wide x 6′ long corrugated metal roof panels.  We cleared the rock down to the earth surface in an effort to bury the panels a couple of inches so Miss Roxy’s digging is harder to accomplish.

Each panel is attached to the posts with screws.

Corner detail

We added 40″ long 1/2″ electrical conduit pounded into the ground at 2′ intervals to keep the weight of the soil from pushing the panels out.

Conduit for stability

We will be picking up compost this weekend to fill the beds.  Once filled, the last bit of construction will be to add redwood 2x6s on the top edges to create a place to sit.


Planting area

In an effort to be more sustainable in the desert, we removed the grass that covered our front and back yards a couple of years ago.  We covered the remaining clay soil with rock and xeriscaped.  Many of our plants and trees are on drip lines under the rock to minimize evaporative losses.  In doing this, we save an immense amount of water every month.

After much discussion, we decided to build raised garden beds in the west side of our back yard.  The west side of the yard was selected because there is a concrete block wall on this side that will shade the beds from the harsh afternoon sun.  Raising the beds accomplishes two things.  We can fill the planters with good compost.  The second really important factor is all but maybe one of our four-legged critters will be kept out of the beds on their ever-continual quest for lizards.

This is the area we set aside for our raised garden beds.

Planting Area

The area is large enough for four 3′ wide x 11′ long x 2′ high raised garden beds, 2 to the south side of the ficus tree and 2 to the north.  To start this adventure, we built the 2 beds on the south side of the tree.

South Raised Beds