Monday, August 20, 2012

From Your Own Backyard

Before planting, they were just big ole sandboxes

This has been the year of outdoor projects. In the fall we had our patio extended, so that we could have room for both seating and a table, and take advantage of the gas line to which we could pipe in our grill. We also added a pergola, so our back patio looks like this now, and I love the extra living space!

In the spring, J was scheduled to be gone for a month from mid-April to mid-May, so I knew we'd need to build the raised beds before then, even if I didn't get the planting done. By the time he left, they were built and filled with a mix of soil and compost from the local nursery. We built the beds in one afternoon, using the simple instructions by The Pioneer Woman. Because our side yard has a pretty decent slope, this level-as-you-go plan was the best for us without a ton of work digging trenches, etc. And then there was the added bonus that the day we chose to haul the dirt to our backyard (the gate to which is on the opposite side of the house, so it was done by the wheelbarrow-full) the skies opened after we'd filled the truck bed, so we were literally slopping mud into the beds. It was awesome.
I used the leftover paint from our bedroom to paint the lumber for the beds. Just to make sure there were no issues, I only painted the outsides.

While J was gone, we basically had two big dirt boxes for the kids to play in, which they absolutely loved, as did I because it provided literally hours of entertainment and kept the soil nice and tilled until it came time to plant.  I knew that this first year I wasn't going to do anything from seed. Not only had I already waited a little too long to start that, but I just have a pretty brown thumb.While J was gone, my aunt and uncle also send me some bare root peach trees. I kept four for myself (one of each variety) and passed the rest on to neighbors and friends. Of the four, two are doing well, and we'll use the holes that we dug for the other two to put in posts for raspberries next year.

Upon J's return, a trip to Home Depot yielded pepper, strawberry, tomato, basil and onion plants. I got six varieties of Tomato (only one of which was heirloom because I'd read they can be tricky), four varieties of pepper and two strawberry. For the onions, I chose Walla Walla Sweets because, well, we live in Walla Walla.


After a few weeks of growth, the tomato cages were added, and peach trees were in.

Henry and Charlie had given me petunia and marigold plants from school as their Mother's Day gifts, so those went in the strawberry beds, along with several others we'd purchased. A few weeks later, I realized that Henry must have planted something other than marigolds at school because we had this growing right in the middle of the strawberry bed:


Today, our garden looks like this, and I'm having fun learning along the way. 


Strawberry bed with four rhubarb starts brought to be by a girlfriend during her last trip home to Montana.

Ya like the hot spots from our pooch?
This Fall, we're having the yard aerated and overseeded to try and get back to a nice uniform green and next spring, we'll be re-doing our sprinkler system so that it works around the beds, a soaker system in the beds, and a drip system in the beds that will be dug around the perimeter of the house so that the sod is no longer touching the foundation.

When we first moved here, I thought having a blank slate for a yard was going to be amazing, but it turns out, it's pretty overwhelming. Though I must say that with each project we complete, I find it harder and harder to imagine ever moving from this little place we once called a 'starter home'.

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