Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Urban Garden Moves To The Front Yard

We have a little project going on in the front yard, too. Last year, because of the vegetable garden we put in the backyard, Steve felt comfortable handing over his front yard to us, too. It was basically a small overgrown postage stamp-sized yard filled with weeds. What you see on the left is after the work we've done so far. The row of paving stones in the rear originally set in a straight line and overgrown with weeds. We moved them forward and placed them in a more pleasing curve to where they are now, and we filled the space behind it with a lot of plants that like shade. And, there's a line of flowers along the right that is pretty good at handling strong sun. We've added organic soil along the right and back. We need to get some ground cover on there, because 1) what's the point of a grass lawn that size? and 2) grass won't grow there because when a wall was built along the sidewalk, which you can't see, the builder back-filled basically with sand. It's like the dirt you find on a baseball field.

Honestly, I would have loved to put in more vegetables. Here in Quincy, Asians plant vegetables in their front yards all of the time. Why not? What's the point of grass? Unless you're a horse, you can't eat it. But believe it not, what we've done with this front yard is really breaking from tradition in the neighborhood. All of the other yards are the typical grass lawns, no matter how small, with foundation plantings around the house. 

But before we tackle the rest of the front yard, let's see what's going on in the back.

We had two days of cold and drizzle. Not nearly enough rain, with no rain in sight; 50 percent on Friday, and then 60 percent the following Friday. And that's not enough in the rain barrels for the garden. We may have to spot water with the hose, which frankly, it's nice to have that net. Farmers out in the Midwest don't have that luxury.

The stripped hill is something our landlord does every year. Usually by this time it's just covered in weeds and by August natural grasses have taken a toehold that would continue to grow as the years passed. You just have to have a little faith and patience with Mother Nature sometimes. But, every spring Steve hires someone to just denude it. He thinks this looks better than a slope covered in natural grasses. He says if he doesn't do this it will look like a forest. I understand it's simply a difference in sensibilities, and people who are raised to see things traditionally have a hard time seeing otherwise. But now that it's had its summer haircut, I'm wondering if we want to plant raspberries? It's a lot of building rubble--mostly gravel--that's been dumped there, and it would take some work and expense to make it fertile for raspberries, which given the chance would cover that hill in a season. It really comes down to me deciding if I want to commit to the expense and labor.

But back to the front yard. That dogwood was planted by Steve's mother about 55 years ago. It's had a pretty good run. We started feeding it fall and spring, and it again was a gorgeous flowering tree this spring. The only thing is that trunk on the right is dead, and there's another dead branch that comes out higher up on the back of the trunk. At the base there's a hole where another trunk was removed a few years ago, that you can stick your hand in. Tomorrow or Friday I'll head over to Thayer's Nursery where there's a guy I know who I can ask what to do.

While I'm there I'll pick up some more organic soil. They sell it for $15 a barrel, if you fill the barrel yourself and haul it away. We keep our 1997 Ford pickup running for chores like that. I'll spread the organic soil on that bare spot in the front yard and we'll be planting a mix of pachysandra and some creeping ivy Steve has growing wild in the back. I'll also see what Thayer's has for mulch for the front plants and in the back to hold in the moisture. That's pretty much a necessity in all vegetable gardens, but it's looking more so this year.  I'm not a big fan of all of this shredded bark that has become popular, and we'll see what alternatives Thayer has. Long ago I used grass clippings, but now I don't have a source for clippings. I've thought about asking the neighbors for theirs when they mow, but most of our neighbors feed their lawn, so that won't work in an organic garden.

Hardly any water after two days of drizzling rain.
Do I want to plant raspberries just beyond that wall? That's mint taking hold just above the wall to the right.
Rose's dogwood tree. The right trunk is dead and it's probably wise to remove it. There's another dead branch around the back of the tree.
A hole a the base of the tree where another trunk had been removed. An entry point for insects and disease.

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