Posts Tagged With: planning

Happy New Year!

I love new year. After the tinsel and noise and hoopla (and crazy relatives and stress and whatnot) of Christmas, the clean white promise of new year is a joy. It always feels to me like a new page, a chance to reflect on what happened in the past year and make plans for the new.

And, of course, burn stuff.
CAS and I have a long-standing new year's tradition. We write down everything we want to let go of from the past year, then we burn it. For the new year, we each pick a theme word, write it on a box, and put slips of paper with intentions for the new year in it. (Intentions, mind you, not resolutions. Resolutions are doomed to failure. Intentions help focus the mind to make changes.)
That box sits on my dresser all year as a quiet reminder. The next new year, I open the box, see how well I did on my intentions, and then burn the box before creating a new one. I tell you, it's just not a new year until I've seen those scraps of paper reduced to ash.
This year, I have chosen "Nourish" as my theme. A good word, I think, lots of room for interpretation there, as well as several avenues to pursue. I'll nourish my body better this year, and my soul. I'll nourish my relationships, and my connection to the earth. I'll nourish my creativity and my bank account. 
I'm on fire with ideas for the new year! If I accomplish half of them, I figure I'll be doing pretty well. So with that in mind, I am thrilled to report some big developments at the Fraudulent Farmstead:
My sister, Ginny, is moving in this spring. We've lived together before, and it worked well. The basement's a studio apartment, so she's got her own space; and we both save money. Also my mother stops thinking I'm dead on the highway somewhere if she doesn't hear from me regularly. 
With Gin (and my beloved dog-niece Gabs and cat-nephew Ace) moving in, I'll have another person keeping an eye on the Fraudulent Farmstead. And I said to myself, "Self, what would you really like to see around here?" And I answered, "Chickens." 
That's right. I'm going to get chickens. My former BF loathed chickens with an intensity many people reserve for flesh-eating bacteria. What with that and my never being home, chickens weren't an option. But now I'm in the market for three or four hens to provide me with fresh eggs, endless amusement, and reams of chicken poop for the compost heap. 
And while I'm at it, I'm planning to plant some fruit trees out front in my slow but relentless quest to turn my useless front lawn (well, "lawn" is fairly generous; maybe "relatively grassy weed patch" might be more accurate) into productive space. I have a lovely little plan drawn up that involves some fruit trees, an asparagus patch, and some vegetable beds. Whether this plan will survive my winter-fevered imagination remains to be seen, but it's a start.
I've splurged by signing up for curbside recycling at $6 a month. I've been bagging my recyclables and keeping them in the garage until I gathered a bunch to drop off at the recycling station. I noticed, however, that the garage has developed a distinct odor of mouse, who may have been foraging among the bags. So now, it's curbside for me.
I've signed up for Farm Fresh Delivery, a brilliant plan wherein someone brings organic fruits, vegetables, and assorted groceries TO MY DOOR. Every other week, a box will arrive on my porch full of vitamins and color, hopefully  improving my record of eating at home and also saving me some money.
Oh, and there are other plans too. I'm redoing the basement bathroom before Ginny moves in, and I need a new kitchen floor. Before the dog moves in, I'll have to fence off the veggie garden and the compost heap ("It's an invitation to vet bills, Amy.") and figure out how to ensure that Miss Kitty can reach her food and litter box while making sure that Gabby cannot forage among the Kitty crunchies.
Oh the plans I have! 
2009, people! It's going to be a good one!

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Categories: Animals, foreign and domestic, The garden year | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Front Yard

I've been in my house for eight years and gardened for seven of them. Three years ago, I had a garden designer lay down the bones of the back garden for me. In the intervening three years, I've created the potager, planted roses, increased the blue and yellow border by the garage, acquired a hammock and a comfy little bistro set, planted a lot of lavender, and continuously tweaked the plantings. No garden is ever done, of course, but I'm happy with the current layout. The beds are bursting and the potager is surprisingly productive for such a tiny space. 

The problem is that I still have a ton of things to experiment with, and the available back garden space is nil. I can't cram a whole lot more in there without digging up more of the lawn (which is currently about one-third the size it used to be) and trashing the circular theme I've got going. So of course, my thoughts have turned to the front yard.
While I consider the space behind my house a garden, the front is really still more of a yard. After my sewer pipe ruptured four years ago, I took advantage of the destruction of the front yard. I pulled out the yews that had been in front of the house and asked a garden designer for a plan. 

At the time, I just wanted a pretty front yard that looked welcoming and left me some space for flowers. So a curving border along the front of the house has a serviceberry, three hollies, many purple daylilies, three lilacs, a vibrunum, two creeping junipers, and three Knock Out red roses. The other side of the door is home to three more hollies, an Anabelle hydrangea, a nest spruce, and more daylilies. That nest spruce replaced an earlier nest spruce that died, and this one is on its way to the same fate. The small island around the lamp post has three pink Fairy roses, a perennial sweet pea, catmint, and geranium.
I also allowed the designer to talk me into taking up the Zoysia grass that was there and replacing it with a seed mix. Big mistake. The lawn is now full of weeds. I don't mind them so much; I like the way the clover looks, although I could do without the dandelions. But the grass is really thin now, especially on the side where it butts up to the neighbor's giant pine tree.
So I have all this space in the front, including a couple of 8' x 16' "hell strips" between the street and the sidewalk. My tentative plan is to turn those into flower borders. I'll need to lay some stepping stones so there are paths for people getting out of their cars. I've ordered two Double Knock Outs that will match the flower colors of the single Knock Outs I already have. I'll use one to anchor the right-hand hell strip. I'm not planning to spend much money on this, so the rest of the flowers will likely be transplants from elsewhere in the yard. Geraniums, Siberian Iris, and Lady's Mantle should all do pretty well in this part-sun border. I'll fill in with catmint and more daylilies if any of the purple ones are ready for division. 
I haven't decided about the left-hand hell strip yet, mostly because there's a small maple tree there. So I will probably transplant divisions from hosta alley, and possibly more geranium.
That takes care of the very front of the yard. But I also want more space to grow food. Because of all the curves (in the border, in the path leading to the porch, and even in the front door) a formal potager would look out of place. I'm playing around with ideas for curving food beds, or even ones that run in a spiral. I'm pretty sure there will be tripods with beans, too.
Of course, this is all pretty ambitious, and I likely won't get it all done this year. I am aiming to complete one hell strip and perhaps one or two food beds. The challenge is to make the garden productive while still maintaining curb appeal. Updates as they occur.

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Categories: In the garden | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Planning Season

I am so done with winter. Unfortunately, winter is not done with me, not by a long shot. My conservative estimate is at least another five weeks of winter, likely followed by several weeks of mud. Mud's OK. I can live with mud. I have a pretty pair of sky blue wellies that allow me to clomp around in the mud. Snow and ice, on the other hand, I'm ready to be done with.

Winter is, of course, the long stretch known to gardeners as "the planning season." And all the books talk about how you can really see the bones of the garden in winter, which is kind of helpful when planning. It's also why it's so important to have shrubs and evergreens and hardscaping. At least you have something to look at when all the perennials have died back to the ground.

Well, you can see the bones of my garden in the attached photos. I wasn't willing to tromp in the snow, so I opened my back window and leaned out. My cat came out to investigate, walked out the window to the outer window sill, sniffed the cold air, and immediately headed back in. She's a Siberian; you'd think she'd be dying to romp in the snow.

Anyway, wintery bones. Here you go.

It's kind of nice you can see the round lawn underneath the dusting of snow. What you don't see in this photo is the circular brick patio next to it. 

The grow poles in front of the garage are covered with clematis in summer. Well, the one on the right is; the ones on the left should be in the "leap" stage this year, since I planted them three years ago.

The little shrubs along the path are lavender bushes. I love lavender, and I plant more every year. 

And here we have the potager in winter. I know, a real potager would have a charming little fence around it, but I've only got so much room for vegetables. This spring, I'm going to add another set of two trellises to the right of this picture and another long bed at their base. I'll have to uproot a lavender to do it, and I'm pretty sure it won't survive the transplant process. 

Anyone who thinks gardening is a hobby for little old ladies has never 1. murdered plants in order to rearrange a garden for aesthetic purposes, 2. pruned a rosebush, or 3. built her own raised beds and trellises. Let me tell you, it's a lot of work. But the pumpkins and melons went wild last year, and I'd like more space for them. When your garden is small, you have to go up instead of out. Hence, trellises. 

Also, here you see the circular patio I mentioned. 

This bit is my perennially difficult shade border. I'm not planning to change much of the planting in the back garden, but I'm going to rework this border. 

Just to the left of photo in my neighbor's yard is a huge maple tree with roots that go to China. Between that and the honeysuckle bush (also on the neighbor's side of the fence), there are so many roots and suckers I literally have to take an axe to the soil to plant anything bigger than a daylily. The viburnum I planted there died a slow and painful death, so I'm looking for a nice shrub to give this some structure. Maybe an oakleaf hydrangea. They're good in shade and pretty tough. There are three Anabelle hydrangeas there already; they're the little brown sticks standing up. The rest is daylily, geranium (I love geranium), and lady's mantle. Last year I planted spiderwort, but I'm not sure it will be back this year. 

When it's not so cold, I'll take a photo of hosta alley, which runs along the side of the house (to the right of the potager in the photo above.) Hosta alley is also my work area, where I keep the garbage cans and whatnot. Also the spigot is there. 

There's a massive old workbench in my basement that's been here since I moved in eight years ago. The BF thinks we can haul it outside, hopefully without taking it apart, or at least without serious injury to either of us. I'm going to stick that puppy in hosta alley, right next to the spigot, where it will become the most spacious free potting bench you've ever seen. Homely, maybe, but I did mention it's free, right? If I get particularly ambitious, I will cut out a square on one end so soil can fall through, and add an outdoor sink on the end next to the spigot. If I'm lazy (likely), I'll just use it as it is. Given how much we charge for potting benches and potting sinks at the store, I will feel gloriously smug either way. 

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