Finished the concrete block storage/dry stack skirting on the west side of my trailerstead. I had a few blocks left and built a smaller raised bed. I notice a bit of ache in my shoulders and arms!
I built the bed in the corner of my patio that works best visually and physically, so it has a north shaded aspect but will get some morning sun in summer. Because it is shaded, it will have extended snow cover. Shade like that will grow a variety of plants here in the New Mexico mountains because the light is quite fierce and it will hold moisture longer than a bed in direct sun.
I picked up a pile of tumbleweeds that blew against my block patio fence and squashed them in the bottom to decompose, then put a layer of dead grass sod that is high in clay. Getting rid of tumbleweeds is a standard winter chore, they tumble for miles, dropping seed everywhere. I will finish filling this bed over the next few days. It’s inside dimension is 24″ front to back, 32″ side to side, and 24″ deep.
I have been thinking about what I will plant in my new bed. I am leaning toward a Bearberry (Arctostaphylos) or Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens) with some of my wild violets around it. All do well in our biting cold and all like partial or full shade. They like extra moisture when they can get it. This is bird food, pollinators love them, and are high in antioxidants for me.
Because Bearberry and Mahonia are native, the birds are likely to take the seeds and get them established both higher up my hill under the pinyon-juniper Food Forest and for miles around. Birds always donate seeds with a plop of natural fertilizer, bless their hearts… it gives the seed an extra boost when they sprout.
A friend called today re Thanksgiving and she has 5 more large bags of compost. I will pick it up Thanksgiving day and give thanks for all the free compost, plus a delicious meal and friends to visit!
With more compost I will build another bed south of the trailerstead, not raised but edged with my native stone and with a pathway wandering through. I will dump the compost material over that area and let it compost in place. The full bed will be part of a tree guild that includes a full size pinyon pine and a first year Santa Rosa plum. Manna!
Last year about this time I was given a couple hundred Bearded German Iris (Iris germanica) rhizomes and planted them around the plum tree (among other things). They have not bloomed yet, but probably will next year. They are doing well in my pinyon/plum tree guild. I planted them very late last year but they have increased in size and should enjoy the new mulch which I will use around them without burying their stems. The roots are Orris Root and is the only perfume fixative I can grow. This is the first time I have had enough Orris Root to experiment and I am excited to have so many (I gifted about 100 of the original gift to me, sharing plants is good). The rhizomes dry for several years when prepared for making perfumes and their light viola scent strengthens. Distillation equipment for essential oils is on my want list! I see a light woody scent in my future (retired with free time). Iris attracts butterflies and repels deer and rabbits. It adds protection to the fruit tree in the center of its ring.
I have a one gallon Russian Sage that I will plant on the west side of this grouping. I think it will do well, it was one that I pulled up near a parent plant. They send out shoots everywhere. I was glad that it survived rough handling and rooted in the pot. It died back but sent up new growth once recovered. It is a great bee and butterfly plant even though it is not native to the US and repels deer and rabbits.
I have enough block for another small bed…