Living Wall, part 2

Back when we made our Vertical Strawberry Wall, Tom also prepared a second pallet for me. It's been sitting out on the front porch for weeks now. I'm sure my neighbors were wondering....  This weekend I finally made another living wall out of the pallet.

Our front porch is tricky; it's in shade most of the day, but around 3:30 the sun starts creeping up and by 4 the porch is in full direct sun. It gets about two hours before the sun starts dropping behind trees. So, not a lot of sun, but very hot when the sun is there. Plus the porch traps heat and in the summer can be quite warm. I've only ever been able to grow coleus in this location. so my original idea was a wall of coleus - which would be pretty, right? All those different leaves. But when I visited The Moraga Garden Center, I changed my mind. I hadn't been there in years and had forgotten how many interesting plants they carry there (thank you Jo for the suggestion!). The staff is knowledgeable and I had lots of help.

I got sidetracked picking out Lewisia for a different part of the garden - I've always wanted this plant and it's always sold out everywhere that carries it, which believe me isn't very many places. I scored three - one white, one peach, one pinky yellow.

But eventually I got busy picking out stuff for the living wall. I chose several colors of sedum and some campanula for the base plants, then added some different kinds of low-growing geraniums and fuchsias for accent. Kate helped me plant everything, and I think it turned out beautifully.

The thing I've experienced from the strawberry wall is that for a few days, dirt comes out. Gravity happens! It's a bit messy for a while, and then the roots start holding on to the dirt and everything starts to look cleaner. You could plant practically anything in a pallet - lettuce? If you've got a small balcony or porch, this is the way to go, I think. Regular containers are expensive!

In the vegetable beds, I pulled out the Asian Braising Greens as they were bolting. I fed what I could to the chickens and composted the rest. Then I seeded some carrots in that bed. The whole bed will eventually be carrots, but I plan to succession plant them so we get a harvest over several months.

Tom finished the drip system; it ended up costing about twice what we thought it would, and I'll let Tom tell you in a separate post all about the process. We both certainly have learned a lot. I'm looking forward to hand-watering only my containers.

I cleaned the chicken coop as I do every weekend. It takes about an hour. I don't clean the whole run: I am using the Deep Litter Method there and will only clean that out once or twice a year. But I do clean the hen house once a week. I pull out the soiled straw and add it to my compost bin, and then replace with fresh straw. I change the water and add food to the feeder. I rake the run and add another layer of pine shavings. There is absolutely no smell at all in the coop except for pine. The chickens are getting big, and every so often, amid the 'peeps,' we hear a 'BWAK!' They're growing up.

I spent a good amount of time today painting some new garden markers. I enjoy this task, and it was a pleasure to sit on the back porch in the sun and make another ten markers or so. Here's a few:

I can't tell you how many times I hear, whilst folding laundry in the bedroom, folks walking by the garden and saying, "What's that? Oh, I see, it's broccoli!" or whatever. Especially parents with kids seem to enjoy pointing out the signs and holding the kids up to look. I told Tom today, I used to hope people would stop and look at my flower garden and noticeably enjoy it. But that happened rarely. Since we put in a vegetable garden, not a day goes by that someone new doesn't stop and take a long look. It is my goal to make our vegetable gardens look as beautiful as our flower gardens, and show others that a yard planned this way can look wonderful. Hopefully it will inspire other folks to do the same.

Speaking of the flower garden, I planted about 50 sunflower seeds today, of five different varieties. Sometimes I have luck, sometimes not. The salvias are starting to bloom; I have them in every color, and I've never met a salvia I didn't like. Soon they will vying with the poppies for attention. Bumblebees and carpenter bees are all over the Western Redbud. I can't wait to pick up my new honeybee colony on April 11 (still hoping to find a swarm, though). Butterflies have started visiting.

And speaking of butterflies, here's a photo my co-worker took of a Pipevine Swallowtail, which are hatching in great quantities all over the property near our school. They are really gorgeous.

Isn't that a great shot?

Happy Spring! Hope you're able to garden, whatever your weather!