Here is my result:
I think it looks better than it did before. I also tried something new with the walkway. Under the rocks, I put a layer of newspaper. I read in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible that it's a good organic way to kill grass. My husband doesn't like black paper so I thought it was a good solution. Another tip I was given by my friend Jenny as a way to kill grass in walkways or areas you don't want them is to put black plastic (ie. trash bags) down for several days and let the sun kill the weeds.
Here's my new bed waiting for raspberries...
My plan is to plant them in there tomorrow. I put the Humus and top soil in, but haven't mixed it up very well yet. This is not the perfect site (so don't do what I'm doing). My side yard is pretty moist and raspberries prefer well draining soil. I don't have another good option though so I'm going to hope for the best and hope that they will survive.
I just looked again at these pictures and realized that they probably don't look like much. They involved a lot of work! I had no idea how much before I did it. I have a new and deep appreciation for how hard landscapers work! I also have no idea how my parents were able to keep up the huge garden that we had at our house when I was growing up. It must have been a lot of work. Good work. Satisfying work, but work nonetheless.
I don't want to give anyone the impression that I know more than I do about gardening. The truth is that I've been reading a lot and talking to people and now I'm taking the things I've been reading about and doing them. Here's the books that have been helping me:
Dirt Cheap Green Thumb by Rhonda Massingham Hart
This book is great for sticking in your purse and taking with you where ever you go. Read a few pages when you are waiting for a doctor's appointment or waiting to pick up your child from school. The formatting is wonderful and makes it so easy to glean information. It's concise and straightforward. The first section is all about the absolutes (which I'm trying to follow as much as I can, but am doing imperfectly).
I also like that this book has lots of handy charts. Since it is small, it's easy to store and find room for on your bookshelf.
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith
Last year for Mother's Day, my husband gave me. It was kind of him, but the book completely overwhelmed me. I wanted to dip my toes in the water and with that book you have to jump right in up to your shoulders. Lots of reading and lots of information--though not everything you need. It is a wonderful resource and covers lots of topics (it gave me the idea for the newspaper under the rocks). It talks about mulching and sun. But, because it is specifically for vegetables, there isn't a lot of information on herbs or flowers in it. So, I used it only a little last year. I'm glad to have it and I've been opening it back up this year.
Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant
This book is a good place to start. It has some great ideas of how to transition a garden and add on to it each year. It has some wonderful information in it. I especially like the first garden (the bag garden) because it avoids all the work of building raised beds from the beginning. You make use of the dirt in the bags and develop your garden over a 3 year period. I am realizing how wise this is after the 2nd day constructing my garden. It is not as much work to maintain and plant in your garden as it is to build it! The other plans are fun to look through and give lots of helpful information. Each plan comes with a list of what you need (super helpful) and directions of how to build it. The pictures of how to put in a tomato cage are very helpful! This book is not as overwhelming as The Vegetable Gardener's Bible. I also love the section on storing seeds.
The last book I have is one that I do recommend purchasing because you'll likely go back to it over and over if you have kids and pets. But, it isn't a gardening book that covers everything. It's called Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. Just like people, some plants like each other better than others. There is a wealth of information in here about what you should plant with what. The helpful chapter for gardeners with kids and pets is the list of plants that are poisonous or cause dermatitis. I happen to have contact dermatitis and wear gloves whenever I garden. There are quite a few plants that you shouldn't plant within the read of toddlers who put everything in their mouths or pets who won't leave your garden alone. If you're interested in companion gardening, this is a great book to look into.
Back in March, I looked at a lot of gardening books. I found several books written by authors in the UK and at the back of the book there was a note that you had to adjust the planting season by several months. All of these books are written for the U.S. and so it is much easier to use the information that is area specific in them. Storey books are a wonderful resource for gardening. I have always been impressed by how they're written and the information in them. The formatting is easy to navigate (some books even easier than others). The font is clear and the headings make it easy to find what I'm looking for.
If you're a new gardener like me, check these books out. I hope they'll be helpful to you too! I do have one more book that I ordered that I've been looking forward to. It's called Tips for the Lazy Gardener, which also happens to be published by Storey. I bought it based on the preview I saw and the realization that it is a lot of work to garden, so if there's anything I can do to make it easier, that would be great! I'll post a note about it soon hopefully!
Please note that I did receive complimentary copies of Starter Vegetable Gardens and Dirt Cheap Green Thumb from Storey Publishing for review. They have been very valuable resources.