house post · Uncategorized

House Post: Terracing the Herb Garden

Finally some real, visible, substantial house progress!

Ever since we’ve moved in, a particular small hill underneath our deck has distressed me. It’s useless. It grows nothing but weeds. It’s a nightmare – even borderline dangerous – to mow. Now, that describes a good chunk of our yard, but this small, discrete piece was something I had a clear plan for from day 1.

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Last weekend, we finally did it! And WOW, I am so pleased. For an investment of about $250 (lumber, topsoil, plants) and 8-10 hours of time, I have a terraced kitchen herb garden!

Step 1: we actually spent the most time working out our process. As you can see in the photo above, it involved some temporary stakes and strings to get a straight line.

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Along that line, we cut out a small-ish ledge with a shovel (not even that much, honestly; I purposefully didn’t want to do too much cutting into the hill to keep the integrity it had) and then leveled off the bottom board in it.

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Then we drove in stakes – 36″ tall, so they’re in the ground to a depth of about 18″. We cut them out of lengths of pressure-treated 2×2″ balusters. We started doing this with a hammer on Day 1, and then that evening I texted around seeking a sledgehammer, and the next morning a friend dropped one off and WOW YOU GUYS I LOVE SLEDGEHAMMERS SO MUCH. It was a night and day improvement over the hammer.

So we screwed the boards into the stakes, which was actually the easiest part. The hardest stuff was making sure everything was level, lined up, secure, straight, you name it. That part was important because it needed to start level and straight, because over time it’s going to get pressure from the dirt behind it.

Then we went straight back for level 2! These are 6″ boards, btw, so that whole three layer front row is 18″ tall. Not huge, but plenty of room.

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Ta-da! The next day we added the last boards to the top of that second row. Then we added in the topsoil and the (local, organic, natch) herb seedlings.

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The finally tally: three kinds of lettuce, catnip, lavender, basil (SO MUCH BASIL), parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, chives, scallions, and then I snuck in zucchini in the top row because I ran out of room in the raised bed. (This picture was taken very late afternoon; the spot gets 8-10 hours of sun a day, and we may also need to remove the branch that’s blocking the light in that photo, so they should do just fine.)

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We put in the raised bed the same day, and boy, did I restrain myself. I usually waaaaaaay overplant it, but this year I remembered my the tomato blight wars of years past and gave them more space. So two kinds of tomatoes and bell peppers only in the raised bed this year. Next year, I’ll do another raised bed, and be able to expand a bit.

Here’s hoping it all survives and thrives!

2 thoughts on “House Post: Terracing the Herb Garden

  1. Hurray for planting! We had a veritable tomato jungle thanks to a combination of too many tomato plants and horse manure base in our raised beds. So this year I’ve restrained myself. In contrast, my husband wants to make lots of hot sauce, so he has a whole raised bed devoted solely to hot peppers.

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