Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Plotting Land

It was another glorious day for the memory banks today: sunny, cloudless, almost warm, even. We discarded our coats as soon as we hit the car. And for the first time since fall, I had the car windows open during our travels. Even on the highway.

We were out getting sand and soil for the various expansions I have going on. Sand for the new brick work, and soil to fill in some terracing experiments. And either I'm getting weak and feeble or the sand is getting heavier, because I ended up filling the bags while they were in the trunk, instead of filling them then hauling them out to the trunk. At least Max didn't break one, like he did last year. It split all over the trunk. It was not a pretty sight, all that damp sand sitting stickily on the fabric. I had to wield a vacuum, even, so you know how much that must have hurt.
Here's the area where I put in some of the bricks. You see the tree in the middle, right? The brickless tree? With the strange straw-covered rectangle in front of it? Well, when we first moved in here that poor little tree was sitting in a heap of overgrown couch grass.

It's a Macintosh apple tree. The first year we were here it gave off 1 apple. It had a wasp nest in it, as well as a number of very large and very ugly caterpillar nests. I almost cut it down, because I got the willies from both the wasps and the caterpillars, not to mention the deplorable shape it was in, but one bite of that apple and I knew I had to save the tree. It was some apple.

I cleared away the grass (1st year), overturned the sod around the drip line, then heaped the area with compost to feed the tree, because it was looking a little sad (2nd year), and now I've enclosed the area with bricks, which are level with the ground so the mower can use them as a runway. It seems the most effective method of having a border that doesn't include me having to wield an edging tool. Now I won't have to lug out the weed wacker or move the bricks every time Richard mows. I'm all for a Less Labour Intensive Garden, well, less labour intensive in certain areas...
What's that odd semi-circle on the other side of the straw-covered box, you ask? (humour me here) Well, gosh, it's a new terrace I'm building. The twins are clamouring for garden space, and since I can't give them any part of the vegetable garden (it's already too small for my purposes), I decided to branch out into the areas the kids don't really use. The really slopey areas.

Here's one area I've terraced, albeit in a half-hearted way. It was a gentle grassy slope when we first moved in, with a small azalea on it and a massive old stump where the squirrels lived. Note my use of the past tense. There are currently no squirrels residing in this area. You can see where I'm using sod to build up the bottom wall. This is the shade garden, where the mint grows rampant (we eat a lot of mint), and where the hellebores, pulmonarias, lupins, huckleberries, pansies, heuchera, and mondo grass grow. It's a very picturesque area come spring. It's also where we did our One Small Square experiment last year.

Here's another area I terraced. It holds rhubarb. You can't actually see the rhubarb, because it's reclining under that terracotta pot, waiting for it's close-up (which will come any moment now, Mr DeMille).

And here's the latest in the Terrace Experiment. You can see the rhubarb in the distance. Not to mention FDPG in her favourite green pants (which she never takes off and thus which I never get to wash). I'm not sure what's going to go inside this one yet, but it will be helpful if I decide to start rotating my crops like all the garden books tell me to do. I've never rotated anything before, mostly because I've never had the luxury of space, but now I do, so I might try it. Wait for it: this will be the year I get all the flea beetles, carrot flies, and wireworms Rodale tells me are my destiny if I don't rotate! Sometimes ignorance IS bliss.

Another before and after. The vegetable plot. About a month ago. Bean trellis on the left, odds and ends everywhere else.

Leap forward to yesterday. Weird angle, I confess. I got a little nutty with the rotation on iPhoto. And maybe, just maybe I might have had a glass of wine to soothe my aching bones after a long day toiling in the sod, right before I took the picture. Tilt your head to your right and I guarantee everything will look fine.

I've extended the lower right corner along about 5'. You can see the cinder blocks at the end. After I extended that corner, FDPG showed up and demanded some garden time. So I turned over another corner, this time the one in the lower left corner, where that red brick border is. We wrestled about how many bricks she could use to border her space with, because she had some definite ideas that didn't really mesh well with how many of my salvaged red bricks I was willing to part with.

Here is her small square here.

FDPG is going to grow: pumpkins, strawberries, radishes, lettuce, and maybe a few sunflowers.

This area is perhaps 3' square.

She estimates that she can get all that into this area, although I should add that she wouldn't look me in the eye when she said this, so perhaps she's having me on. It's hard to say with this kid.

That FDPG, she sure is an optimist.

After I did that, I got a little more carried away with brick edging over by the blueberry patch (where the straw is on the left there).
And finally, an iris ready for its close-up. Those lines! With a face like that it oughta be in pictures, don't you think?


sherhyka said...

Your snow is gone! I'm so jealous. I'm itching to get into my garden. Yours is looking great!

Heather said...

Oh I just love that feeling of exhaustion that comes with a long, hard day of toil in the garden in the springtime. The kind where all you can do at the end of the day is shovel some food into your mouth, have a hot bath to wash off the muck(and ease the aching) and then fall into bed, eager to get some rest so that you can do it all again the next day. ;-) It is such a good kind of exhaustion, you know? Such a feeling of accomplishment that you can actually see so easily. ( like I can in your photos).

Love to see how your daughter gets all that good stuff growing in her patch. Perhaps she is a fan of square foot gardening? ;-)

this is my patch said...

What a lovely iris. Without fail every year the birds pick off the heads of mine! The bright, warmer spring-like days are a certain incentive to get outdoors. x