Making a Garden 2012

by Jim Kunstler

For several years this past decade, we lived in rented houses where it was not practical to build a garden – given the expense and issue of altering somebody else's property. In the fall of 2011, we bought a place on three acres literally on the edge of Greenwich, Washington County, New York, a main street (former) factory village of about 2,500 people. In March of the snowless winter 2011-2012 I began operations to build a garden.

It was something I had done a couple of times before but this was a little more ambitious. The idea was a central formal potager of raised beds, fenced, with some non-raised beds outside the formal square. I laid it out at 48 feet square with the entrance on a direct axis with the front door of the house.


Here is the garden site in late winter (of a snowless season).


The original front yard needed to be squared off. I called in an excavator to remove one big pine tree and a few small hardwoods. The village is about 800 feet through the woods and down the hill.


Carting away all the debris


Building Raised beds from 2 X 10. Boundaries and paths laid out with stakes and mason's twine.


This was the complete scheme. I filled the raised beds with topsoil and top-dressed them with compost, both purchased and trucked in.
The soil underneath the lawn is rocky and clayey. It needs help.
At center is a platform of granite paving stones set in sand and pea gravel. Nothing is cemented, in case it doesn't work out. The idea is to put a table there under a pergola. I'm excavating what will be a paved path leading up to it down the central axis.


I built a sifter to get rocks out of the excavated soil. Paved path complete.


This is how things were developing by mid-April as seen from an upstairs window.
The two narrow double-heightbeds are already planted with kale.
Chives planted in the four corners of the lower right square bed.


Two-foot wide borders for culinary and medicinal herbs on three sides of potager array.
In background, deer fence under construction.
A herd of about eight deer were practically living on the porch all winter.

On the other side of the house, I put in 16 fruit trees-- apples (2 Northern Spy, 2 Liberty, 2 Honeycrisp, 2 Rhode Island Greenings, 1 Black Oxford, 1 Macoun);
pears (2 Clapps, 1 Asian, 1 Fameuse); and cherries (1Mesabi, 1 Michigan Sweet).
Also, off to the side, gooseberries and red and black currents. Blueberries off to the right.


Auxilliary side garden for strawberries and squashes.
In background, a big tripod to grow hops vines up.


Early May, the beds have been planted.



Post holes being dug for picket fence around potager.
It is as much a design element as a practical defense against rabbits
and other varmints who can get through the deer fence.
First lettuce crop ready to eat. Hollyhocks and yarrow in side border.


I decided to plant sunflowers along the rear border this year.
At bottom, a little borage plant.


Strawberry plants in side bed.


The picket fence posts are all in. They are locust wood and will resist rot for 50 years or more.
Posts will be topped off to 4 feet eventually
Mustard greens in near bed ready to eat.


From upstairs window.


Apple and Pears growing up, first year.


This apple is called Liberty


Gooseberry bush with currant bushes behind.

Last of the kohlrabis


Fence finally going up in October. Posts are locust wood, rails cedar, pickets are plain pine lath.

That's it for 2012. Big Plans for next year.