New Bed for Cut Flowers - South Sideyard - May 2024

The southside sideyard of our property is like most suburban sideyards.  Long and narrow.  It is also one of the very few areas outside of our front yard where we get A LOT of sun.  Over the years, I've planted some things over there including three Disneyland Roses, a pair of espaliered Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees, some Summer Beauty Allium, Karl Foerster Grasses, a few various allium bulbs, our Indiana Street Iris and last Fall I added a small Blue Star Juniper.  Closer to the front of the house, we have a pair of Limelight Hydrangeas that are adjacent to the porch.

The bed along this side of the house has been the same size since we moved in:  long and thin and hugging the foundation.  Something about 18" wide.  Below is a photo showing the bed as it looked before I started this new bed project.  One other note (to future Jake) - the orange spray paint shows where the cable line is buried.  

Orange line is the underground utilities

I've been talking about growing flowers since last Fall - and pushed myself to get more comfortable with blooms vs. foliage.  I bought Zinnia seeds.  I bought and potted up some dahlia tubers this Spring.  And, I even included the idea of growing flowers as the #2 item on my 2024 to-do list.  

Flowers need sun and I only get sun in the front and this sideyard.  I figured...why not carve out a bed on this sideyard that I can direct sow those Cut and Come Again Zinnias?  

I like curvilinear beds, so I decided to cut out a little swoop in the middle of the bed to create a new edge.  This project required some turf removal, but I opted to go a different route.  Cardboard smothering.   I removed some of the turf around the edges, then cut the rest down to the ground.  Next, I covered it all with a layer of cardboard.  On top of the cardboard went two full loads of municipal biosolids.  Lots of nitrogen.  

A new garden bed - built with cardboard, biosolids and composted manure

Here, below, is what the little swooop looked like when it was half-way covered with cardboard and biosolids.  I finished up the rest after I ran to the mulch pit for the second load of municipal biosolids.

A new garden bed - built with cardboard, biosolids and composted manure

On top of the 3-or-so inches of biosolids went other organic material.  Six 25# bags of Moo-Nure (a cow manure and compost soil amendment), one bag of 'top soil' and a couple bags of 'garden soil'.  This covered ALL of the biosolids and gave the bed a real airy feel.  

Composted manure - Moo-Nure

Below is what this section looks like when I was done.  The rest of the bed needs to be edged and topped with a mulch cap, but this section is ready to 'cook'.   Another NOTE TO FUTURE JAKE:  the yellow stake at the edge of the bed is where the cable line is located. 

A new garden bed - built with cardboard, biosolids and composted manure

I say 'cook' because I'm hoping the combination of biosolids + manure + compost + soil will create a seed-friendly spot.  But, I'm planning on waiting a few more weeks.  Zinnia seeds need soil temps in the 70's to germinate, so by the end of May, this bed will have a couple of weeks of 'seasoning' in it.  And, I'm hoping that the 4-to-5-to-6 inches of material ON TOP of the cardboard will be enough to hold the Zinnias.  By this Fall, the cardboard will be gone and this bed will be like the rest. 

I used the same approach in the front back in early March and IB2DWs, too.  We're now 60 days from when I laid the cardboard down.  And....I'd like to plant the row of Marigolds up there, so we'll know very soon how long the cardboard lasts.    I'm also starting to collect more cardboard to do something similar with an island bed in the front yard.  

For this bed in the sideyard, I'm thinking that I'll set up some posts and twine to train the zinnias, put up a fence of chicken wire to keep the dang! rabbits out and then direct sow the seeds in early June. 

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