Blossoms
Blog, Gardening

2012 Gardening Experiences

I am doubtful that any fruit will set on my nectarine tree this year, as this poor tree was doused with a rain/wind storm for the last 10 days, but the blossoms were quite lovely none-the-less.

With my spouse Max flying back and forth to LA during the week, it has left me a limited amount of time to accomplish some big garden tasks that I have had planned for this spring.

I’ve been a bit of a crazy list-making fiend, who pounces on Max when he enters the door and then sets about checking things off the list in a task-doing frenzy (because when there are two of us then one can watch Kidling1, and another can do things…).

This weekend was a huge accomplishment for the backyard. When we first moved in 11 months ago our back yard was a rampaging pile of grass and weeds, accented by an exceedingly ugly plywood shed, a broken play set, and some miscellaneous chunks of concrete.

Fast forward to today, and we sold the shed and play set on Craigslist, and have done some exciting removal/excavation in terms of the miscellaneous chunks of concrete.

When I say excavation, I really mean it in the archaeological sense of the word – when I enter my back yard with a shovel it is like a mysterious adventure into the wild, where every time I dig I strike a new and mysteriously useless chunk of concrete. No joke!

The prior home owners must have had an obsession with pouring bits of concrete edging, changing their minds, putting more dirt around, and then pouring yet more concrete. We even found a huge mysterious 2′  circle x 2′ deep chunk of concrete buried toward the middle of the yard, with no apparent purpose whatsoever.

I am so proud of my concrete part of the work and the “pile of crud” that has most of the excavated bits so far! I could almost make a museum exhibit to illustrate the “concrete pouring habits of the urban family.” Okay, maybe my archaeological efforts aren’t museum-worthy quite yet…

I had two main goals of the weekend – first, the construction of the Frame-It-All raised beds, and second, start killing off the rambunctious weeds/grass around the raised bed garden area by smothering with black plastic.

Despite blustery wind and pouring rain, Max did all of the leg-work and construction of the raised beds on Saturday. In this photo he is putting in the screws that hold the plastic corner pieces to the boards.

Some people say that the Frame-It-All raised beds are really lame and way too expensive for the price when you can make the same thing with some pieces of wood and some nails.

I say that saving up my money over the last year should prove to be totally worth it because so far I am really happy with my recycled-composite-plastic raised bed frames – they were lightweight and easy to work with, they will never rot, and I didn’t get any splinters!

After Max put them together then I set to work on Sunday with the tasks of smothering the grass inside the raised beds, as well as using plastic to smother the stuff outside the raised beds.

I use lots of newspaper for the smothering the inside of the raised beds part – this is an easy way to create a barrier between the grass and the dirt I’ll put in, is a worm-edible layer that should eventually disintegrate, and it allows me to tackle the grass without using any kind of pesticides.

On the outside I used black plastic, careful to tuck in all the edges, and then weighing it down with some mulch and bricks.

After hauling six wheelbarrows full of mulch, I decided that my haphazard and not-so-attractive accomplishment for the day was quite enough for me!

I can add more mulch later, and of course once the smothering is done then I’ll take off the black plastic anyway and hopefully it won’t look so unsightly.

I added some compost, chicken manure, steer manure, and peat moss on top of the newspaper in the raised beds to help keep it weighed down for the smothering of the grass. I’m crossing my fingers that I did a better job here than I did in my front yard – I used the newspaper technique there, and overall it was effective, but this grass is crazy-ambitious and in a few spots in the front yard the grass proved it can go through newspaper and then up through 10 inches of dirt, when given the opportunity.

My future vision for the back yard includes adding some espaliered pear and apple trees along the fence perimeter, but for now I am happy to be making progress on the smothering phase, and maybe next year I can afford to plant trees for an espalier.