Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Homestead - an update

Ok, here's the deal... I'm hoping to resurrect this blog in an attempt to share my ambitious project of re-landscaping our property.  Because we plan to incorporate mostly edible and medicinal plants, I figure this is the best place to share and document it.  Today, I'm just going to talk about how the property is now and what we have done with it so far.  Next time, I'll do an overview of what our plans are going forward.

Here is a little background on our property.  We have a 60-year-old house on a postage stamp-sized (60 x 100 foot or 0.15 acre) lot in a small town.  While we would love to have some acreage, some animals, and get away from town, it just isn't going to happen right away.  So, we've decided to make the most of what we have.  If we do find the right piece of property a few years down the road, we can write this off as a learning experience... a "practice run" if you will.
From our patio, looking west.

Here are some photos of our backyard garden from last summer.

We have one bed that is approximately 10 x 30 divided into 5 smaller beds, a long thin bed (18 inches x 22 feet), plus a number of pots and containers.  We converted this from a gravel pit about 3 years ago and each year it just gets better and better.

From my studio, looking east.
Yes, we use some Topsy Turvy planters for our tomatoes.  We have very little south-facing space and have to maximize what we have.  In our northern climate, tomatoes need all the heat they can get.

Me, breaking in our new tiller
This spring, we dug up a 15 x 27 rectangle of grass in our front yard, fenced it, and turned it into yet another garden.  The best part about this project wasn't all the food we could now produce (which is pretty awesome), but the conversations it has started.  We have gotten to know our immediate neighbors much better.  Folks we've not spoken to the entire 5 years I've lived here have stopped to tell us how great it is and how nice it looks.  I even had a woman at the library stop me and ask if I lived at the house (on our street) with the great new vegetable garden.  I never imagined the project with receive so much attention... fortunately it has been all positive.  When the city was replacing our water main a couple of months ago, even the city project manager complemented the project.
All planted, now grow dammit!

This is the new garden space.  The fence is 30" tall (city code), but it is enough to keep out dogs and we're hoping it will be too much work for any other critters in the neighborhood to deal with the fence when there is plenty of other stuff more readily available.  We bought a little tiller to help prep the space, and it is perfect for us.  It is small and only uses 6 amps, so we can run it off our solar panels.

In this bed we planted chard, beans, corn, onions, carrots, beets, kale, squash, and cucumbers, plus sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds.  It is greening up and filling in nicely.  We can't wait to start harvesting from it!

New garden fence
Here is a street view.  The fence is set back from the sidewalk, creating a small flower bed.  I planted 5 Lavender plants, which will be wonderful to harvest once they fill in.  Between the lavender, I planted irises and lilies.  I will add more lilies this fall, the best time to transplant them.  This bed will keep the fence from being a giant swath of white wood, add some function as well as color, and give the neighbors something pretty to look at.

Here is the rest of our yard.  Just grass with some rhododendrons that might be 50 years old.  This photo was taken about a month after I moved in, so we had cut the rhododendrons way back, but hadn't made any other improvements at that point.  We have a corner lot, and we have moved some roses down to the east edge (to the left, out of the photo) that we hope to create a hedge with.  Really, right now its just an unexciting lot of grass that has to be mowed.

Lastly, one of my lilies currently in bloom.  So Pretty!
Lilies in bloom

Well, there it is... a summary of our property as it is now.  Next up... our plans!