Worked outside for a while this morning, creeping along on my potager, specifically raised bed 5. I finished row 1 and working row 2 of concrete. My neighbor donated enough deadwood for layer one on the bed, so I grabbed nine big chunks and hauled them back to my house while the getting was good, even though I have deadwood too.
This afternoon I again worked on bed 5. I added a few bags of compost material, a few blocks, and a couple Homer buckets of soil. No rain or snow forecast to jumpstart composting, but it will come.
I have been reviewing my herbs, and will include fancy garlics in this bed, they make a nice counterpoint against rounded shrubs. I am thinking about what will anchor the bed, because it is too cold here for Rosemary and Pineapple Sage. Oregano, for sure. Thyme, Tarragon, Chocolate Mint, Chives, Dill, Basil.
I will plant some I’Itoi bunching onions in this bed and put the balance in the ground, hoping they run loose in the wildflower beds. I also plan to put in Rakkyo bunching onions with their amazing red stalks, which should coordinate nicely with the Bloody Dock.
I will include Bloody Dock, in part because it is a perennial and in part because it is such a pretty plant with red veins in the edible green leaves. I also will have several Shugiko Edible Chrysanthemum, with their soft yellow blooms in the fall and yummy leaves.
This bed will attract the most bees and butterflies, and is centrally located to improve pollination in all the beds.
I can’t remember getting any big pest problems in my gardens. For this New Mexico garden, I have already attracted a pair of Say’s Phoebe Flycatchers, and they eat a lot of flying insects. They are pretty things and beautiful when swooping to eat.
As soon as I started building with concrete blocks, it was obvious I created habitat for my local Prairie Lizards. I had an explosion in the population hanging out around my first two raised beds. I think of them as my first line of defense against insect pests, because they moved in and are on the job during all daylight hours.
I have two varieties of native penstemon in my wildflower patch and am working on a third, which are favorite flowers of Hummingbirds. The little Rufous Hummingbird migrates down the Rocky Mountains through here, into Mexico, and back to Washington through California and Oregon, sipping nectar from penstemmons all along its route. When mine start blooming, not only Rufous, but other Hummingbirds show up. I will also have my pineapple sage outside. Everyone knows Hummingbirds love tubular nectar flowers, but they also eat huge numbers of insects, including that bane of roses, aphids. I will continue to add tubular flowers to feed them.
I have three laying hens, and one likes to follow me around the garden. She eats bugs too, and sometimes snacks on greens, but is mostly looking for bugs because she gets vegetables all the time.