This is our backyard, with a pole for the clothesline & the apple tree. This is a “before” picture. Let’s check back in 1 year. I had high hopes that we could put in a fall/winter garden when we moved, and not miss a whole season of growing stuff. I was naive and ambitious. It’s not going to happen. We’d be lucky if I mowed the lawn or cut back the ivy before the rains start. I did trim the hedges yesterday, though (electric hedge trimmers = not very much work). There’s still a chance I might put in sets of garlic, but that will probably be the extent of my fall/winter gardening efforts here. I want to spend the winter researching, planning, and getting ready so that we can start the garden 110% as soon as March rolls around. It seems far more likely to happen if I give myself 6 months to plan.
I have a lot of guilt about tearing out plants that are currently in the yard. They aren’t doing well. The soil isn’t great and they’ve been neglected for too long, as the former owners were not big garden people. But still, they are alive and doing their best, and I feel guilty just tearing them up. So then, finding new homes for all the rosebushes, butterfly bushes, azaleas, coniferous border plants, bulbs, hedges etc. becomes its own project. I am not sure how other people handle this when they get a new house & hate the yardscaping. Maybe I’m just soft?
There’s a new magazine called Urban Farm (from the editors of Hobby Farm). There’s only one issue so far, but it’s great. Urban Farm is based on the idea that you don’t need a lot of acres to produce food, with an emphasis sustainability, organic growing, and self-sufficiency. We also subscribe to Mother Earth News, which is I love, but a lot of projects are geared toward people with a little more space than we have. It’s inspirational to read Mother Earth, though, and I like the creative challenge of trying to scale down some of their projects to our 1/5 acres.
Fortunately, our library has a ton of great gardening books. Lately, I’ve been reading Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting, which is full of good ideas for mediocre/difficult spaces. We actually have some really promising garden spaces and I know we are very lucky compared to apartment dwellers, renters, and people with concrete yards, but there is a lot of food for thought in this book. Yesterday, I also picked up Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, about traditional low-input gardening methods for higher yields. Gardening When It Counts should be an interesting read. The author is opposed to popular intensive vegetable gardening, like crowded raised beds (hi, that’s what I do). If there is really an easier, cheaper, more sustainable way to grow food, I’m probably willing to try it, but the top soil in my yard is not promising. (see above: all the plants in the yard are struggling)
And to round out this conversation, I’ve been watching The Good Life on a recommendation from the new green blog. The Good Life is a comedy from the BBC in the 1970s about a suburban couple that decides to quit the rat race and go self-sufficient. Don’t worry – I’m not getting any crazy ideas; their house is paid off! It takes place in the 70s, but it seems very timely and modern. As we see more and more people turning back to sustainable, locally-produced food and trying to consume less and produce more to meet their own needs, there are inevitably going to be conflicts with Homeowner Associations, local laws and restrictions, neighbors, and the limitations of our own knowledge and abilities. Anyway, it’s a good show, and it gives me something to watch besides Lost, which I have been watching entirely too much of. Have I mentioned lately that we love netflix instant streaming? Instant Streaming & the ROKU are easily my favorite technical innovations of the last year.