Wednesday, June 20, 2012

visions and sights around the corner

If you read the post on my other blog about needing to get out of my yard sometimes, you'll catch the irony that I just returned from a vacation across the mountains and am happy to begin work in my yard. Then again, the whole point of vacation is to help you return  ready to tackle your normal life with renewed vigor, right?

At least for the first week+ back, we've all felt the extra umpf to work out in the yard we bought last year, which is just around the corner from our back yard. Iz in particular only wants to "work outside" all day, every day. Walk to friends? No, thanks. I want to work in the yard. Eden is happy picking raspberries to share with the neighbors all day long.

You see, we've had this plan. We drew it up months ago on the site It makes me happy to sit and just look at it. We won't get the plan done in one year, for sure. I've been calling it a 5-10 year plan. But the awesome thing is how much of it we've been able to get done in the last month!

There it is! THE PLAN. You can map out your yard (our house is along most of the bottom of this drawing, with the kids' playhouse in our regular back yard at the bottom right and the front of the property on the far left) and fill in whatever plants you want! It automatically fills in the suggested spacing for each plant and will even give you a graph showing when to plant and harvest each crop! Genius! So here's how it's going:

The weekend before vacation, we rented a bobcat to pull as much gravel as possible out of the yard. I think the yard was about 40% gravel, at least a foot deep. Maybe more. An epic 2 driveways and an improved alley later (you're welcome, Muncie...), our yard looked slightly different than it had before the three days of work. We're gradually pushing the wild brush and random stuff back to the edges, at least.

At this point, neighbors started coming over to ask what we're doing. One next-street-over neighbor we did not know previously came and operated the bobcat one hot afternoon, just because he has a lot of experience doing it and wanted to be kind. Another just came to check it out and give advice. Others say we are absolute angels for working so hard. (I have yet to figure out how those two things are related. Working on my own yard feels just a bit selfish, though I hope to host people in it eventually...or now.) Some let Eden give them raspberries to eat. Kids see us digging and come over to help. It feels like the way things should be.

We didn't get as much done with the bobcat as we'd hoped, so we have been and will be leveling and smoothing the land by rake and shovel from here on out. It sounded horrible to me, but we were able to level the whole garden area in just four evenings of work. Ta-da! (The garden level we did by hand is at the far end of this picture.)

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This is not in our yard...yet.
The PLAN is to dig a trench pond like the one I saw at the Indy Zoo/White River Gardens. It had these frogs shooting water into it and that seemed really fun to me. (That's the blue in the drawing.) It is so much fun to me to be an adult who is able to see something like that and realize I could put it in my own yard for very little money. (I think. We're not done, yet!) We were going to have it just be a semi-circle near the house, but then we went to Williamsburg and saw the cute bridge over such a feature and thought, Why not? We have lots of extra wood to build one. So I think we'll give it a shot. Not that we know about building bridges. Maybe our neighbors do.

the little bridge at Williamsburg
It will go to the right of the left-hand tree in the picture below.


After we got the basic garden shape dug and leveled, we got a bunch of old cedar boards (like 50 years old!) that had been the stands at the fairgrounds in town. We've heard a rumor that John Dillinger's butt may have been on one of these very boards.... :) In one day, with the help of a dear middle school student, we built, filled, and planted nine beds! (We have to leave open space for future construction for now.) To my astonishment, we have not 2 beds of tomatoes, but more than four! 50 TOMATO PLANTS!!! Oops! I kept thinking we didn't really have many. I will have to become well-seasoned at canning this fall.

as close as I can get to an aerial view of the yard to show how the overall plan is coming along
So there it is for now. It was long past its due date, but I'm proud of it like it's a new baby or something. But this time of year, everyone's inviting each other over to come check out their gardens. It's what we do. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour. Come over whenever you want and I'll hand you a shovel as I expound upon this brief history! Holler down the street or send me a link and I'll come check out your garden, too!