Saturday, March 6, 2010

Warning: 10 ugly picutres... and one really beautiful one.

I'll give you the pretty one first.

This is my yard this morning. How beautiful is that weeping cherry tree?!? The kids and I sat under it, playing Uno last night until it started getting really cold. It was so nice. Every day it gets brighter and more full with blooms. It is stunning! And right outside my kitchen window.

Ok, now on to the ugly. Building an urban homestead isn't always easy. Well, I will actually go so far as to say it is never easy. But there are things that can make it easier. Having dirt is one of those things.... (I'll get to that in a minute)... and having gardeners in the house before you is another. We did not have gardeners here before us. We had landscapers. Non-organic landscapers. To get their beautiful yard the way they wanted it, they maintained an unnatural love of two things. Tarps and the hedge trimmer.

The hedge trimmer was employed to trim everything in the yard to a perfect ball shape that looks beautiful! Until fall, when you realise that the plants only bloom on the outer inch of the 4 - 6 ft wide ball because NO light gets to the inside of the bush. None. Now, for a couple years, this isn't bad. Not at all. But for the 32 years this wonderful couple lived in this house... well these plants are now really suffering.

Let's move on to tarps. This is a 5 minute walk around my garden spot (treat it like an I-Spy game... I Spy PLASTIC!):

And more plastic:

And plastic again:

Their love of tarps was just something unnatural. There is at least one (most of the time two) under EVERY GARDEN IN THE YARD. This means flower gardens, veggie gardens, bulb gardens... even under the grass in most places. There is one tarp that was obviously set down to ward off weeds. Then about 8 inches down, there is ANOTHER tarp. Not sure what this one is for, and we only discovered it while digging for the apple trees... but we have found them all over now that we know what to look for. It is CRAZY! I have thrown away more plastic since we have started this garden project than I can remember throwing away... well, ever!

What is craziest about this whole thing is that it doesn't even keep the weeds out! I have chickweed (which I do eat, actually) and vetch and even things like ivy, growing all over the place right now. Sigh. The plastic doesn't help. It is just more work.

And dirt. We don't have dirt here. We have rocks. Oh the rocks! There are so many rocks in this yard that you could suck up the actual dirt with a shop vac. Seriously.

This pile is from a 2X2ft hole that we dug to place one of our apple trees. It took sacrificing a shovel and buying a pick ax to make the hole that big. And this is what we pulled out. We ended up buying dirt to fill the hole with because there was no way we were going to put all of these rocks on top of that poor baby tree roots. I am happy it is done, but getting those trees into the ground was back breaking work.

I can say a little bit of good from these projects though...

This is the rock garden my oldest made with the rocks that he pulled from the dirt piles from the other three trees. He hasn't gone through the last pile (pictured above). He doesn't need to. The rock garden is complete. It is the entire length of the back of our rambler. lol! But it looks pretty. I think I may have him start on the front gardens next. Lord knows, we have enough rocks.




Shirley said...

Beautiful tree!

I think that every yard around here is like that. Our neighbor put in an underground sprinkler system and brought over about 5 or 6 Home Depot sized orange buckets of just rocks. It's crazy. Makes me kind of miss that good ol' Georgia red clay. LOL!

themama said...

Tarps and black plastic..ugh. Hey at least you have a new game to play! Find the tarp! It will be beautiful in the end :)And that cherry tree is GORGEOUS!


Unknown said...

hi! i came across your blog a few weeks ago and really like it--i bookmarked it right away. we are also going for the suburban homestead on our (almost) one acre. my friends think i'm wacky because i plant melons and squash in my flower beds--but, hey--they have pretty flowers and foliage and the vines help keep down the weeds and fill in naked spaces :) anyway, i wanted to tell you something i've ixperienced with plastic (because once, a few years ago, i thought it was a good idea.) any organic matter, like wood mulch, placed on top of plastic will turn into dirt. weed seeds will grow in that dirt. the plastic is not a long term solution, but it works for a season or two. that's probably why you found layers of plastic and dirt and other debris under the surface :) good gardening!

Jenny said...

I'm just starting to learn about vetch & it's commonly used now as a cover crop. It will be great to add to your compost pile as it will help add organic matter to your soil. And any veggie patch can use as much of it as it can get. Rock digging is tough work. But I know it will look beautiful in the end. Love that rock garden too. I'm thinking about putting one in my yard.

Anonymous said...

Hideous plastic! At least you got a beautiful tree :)

Committed Recycler said...

My parents' house had a similar problem when they moved there more than twenty years ago. In order to reclaim the rocks and stumps on their 1/2 acre into a yard and veggie gardens, my dad put in years of slow work. He would pay us half a penny a rock or five dollars to fill a triple strength bag (which would take more than one weekend if you hit a gravel patch). I applaud your efforts -I never got the plastic thing either, if you are in WA it must wreak havoc with drainage issues - I would think that some of the rocks might help in that respect, lining deep beds or something? I've rambled long enough, Good luck,

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Wow, that's a lot of tarps!

Kate said...

We bought our place last August so this is our first year gardening here. At one time someone had planted an orchard and I'm sure had nice garden beds, but that was several owners ago.

We haven't found any plastic or tarps yet but the last people used the wooded area as a dumping ground. We're slowly pulling the junk out of the woods and then we will have it all hauled away.

As for rocks, oh my, I can't believe how many rocks we have pulled out of the ground while digging garden beds! And not just little ones!

Looking at your pictures makes me realize that building a picnic table needs to move up on the priority list!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog from the comment you left at By Sun and BY Candlelight. I put it on my favorites because I found it to be real and truely inspiring. It is one of the best I have read yet. Our yard here in Western MA is a muddy mess but a welcome sight considering it is a forerunner of our spring season.Thanks for sharing!

Luisa said...

That's just too much tarp. I feel your frustration. Behind our home there is wooded area (not mine) where we go on walks and let me tell you there too many TIRES! As well as pipes and mattress springs. Sad. We focus on the trees and animal tracks.

Crafty Girls Workshop said...

I'll send over my puppy, she loves to dig up dirt and rocks and makes it easy to pick up the landscaping material we put out last year. Stopping by from PEAR tonight.


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