Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Looking ahead to winter in the garden

As I wrote in my first post in the blog, this season represents a return to the garden. It had grown a little unkempt in my absence, but the bones of the organism were strong and so with just a little attention and care it is starting to look like its old self again.

I'd forgotten how much I love gardening. I'd also forgotten what a balm it is to be outside, planting, and pruning, and tinkering with design. So now that gardening season is waning, I'm wondering where to go next. Usually, I head indoors to the woodshop to build paddles, and I'll probably do that again. But I think I want to maintain my ties to the garden through the winter, so that I won't forget to get back out there again in the spring. To that end, I've started thinking about winter garden projects that I could work on for those wonderful days when the weather is benign.

I love to build garden structures. I've always suspected, in fact, that the real reason I want to keep chickens is so I can build a chicken coop--I mean, what a cool project to puzzle out: Indoor outdoor design! Perches for roosting! Secret doors through which you can steal eggs when the hens aren't looking!

But we're talking about animals here, and wanting to build their house is not enough of a reason to commit to the ten years or so I will be caring for them. So I'm still pondering that decision.

For the same reason (commitment to long-term care for something) I've never built a greenhouse, though I've always wanted to do so. I want to build the structure, but I honestly can't see myself trotting out there every day to water seedlings. One of the bonuses of growing older is that you realize what the intractable parts of your personality are, and I can report that my attention span is just isn't long enough to stay with the planting and nurturing of seedlings. And it never will be, no matter how much I wish that it were so.

But a greenhouse--wouldn't that be the berries? It would look great back there, too, all tucked away in a corner of the farm...completely unused.

One thing I do use is a big assembly bench just outside my woodshop. Its primary raison d'etre is wood projects, of course, but it gets called into potting duty with some frequency, so I thought that if I couldn't in good conscience build a chicken coop or greenhouse, maybe I could at least build a potting bench. And--here is the bonus--I could even make it a combo bench/greenhouse for those few seedlings I do plan to start in the spring for heirloom veggies. It would have a potting surface, shelves for storage, and a nifty removable "window" that could be raised and lowered for temperature moderation. I could even put in secret doors.

Here is the spot I've picked out for it:

Though it's not seen here, yesterday evening I planted an antique rose just to the left of the hose post (where those green pots are in the photo), and the bench will go to the right. I think it will look pretty nifty when it's all done--pink thornless climbing rose and garden structure. The best of all possible worlds...

Once I started thinking about the potting bench, my dreams turned to other structures. I've needed a storage shed for years for garden tools; it would make my life in the woodshop so much easier if I didn't have to trip over the lawn mower and its accoutrements all the time. So I think that after I try my hand at the potting bench, I might build a shed.

Here is where I plan to situate it:

Of course, I'll have to get rid of the ligustrum and volunteer trees growing there. So on Sunday I hacked them all back in preparation for digging them up:

I was shocked to see how much light that let into the farm. I'm going to have to pick out a different place for my farm contemplation/meditation seating area...

A friend is passing along his radial arm saw to me, and I plan to make it into a dedicated dado machine. So right now my head is dancing with lap joints and half laps, and rabbets and dados--I can just see how wonderful it will all be when I build my structures. I am nearly beside myself with anticipation. And lucky you! I'll post the progress right here on these pages for you to enjoy along with me...


  1. I look forward to your posts every day! It is almost as if my inner garden self is living vicariously though your blog


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