Sunday, March 25, 2012

And so the gardening begins...

With the last week being unseasonably warm and this weekend playing at being just spring time, I decided to break out my green thumb. We'll see if it proves to be competent at gardening or merely gangrenous.

I haven't done a lot yeah, but I have started the cleanup of the front yard. There are a few piles of leaves, sticks and other tree debris scattered around now waiting for me to pick them up and bring them to compost out behind the backyard.

The newest additions to the landscape have been planted. I bought six blueberry bushes, a pair of raspberry bushes and a ton of strawberries for the front yard.I know it might be a bit early, as there is still a chance of frost looming, but its been nice enough and the plants seemed to be managing well enough outside at Home Depot (both the strawberries and blueberries were blooming).

My bucket of Heirloom seeds arrived last week and yesterday I bought a few different planters so I could start getting some of those seeds growing. The bucket has a pretty wide variety of plants but for the first go at this garden, I think I am going to play it safe and go with more basic veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, a few squashes). I'm also going to see if Luke and Ava want to pick some seeds to plant as well - give them something to do here other than playing Team Fortress 2 or watching Elmo sing the same songs over and over again.

My last purchase, that I haven't done much of anything with yet, was a package of wildflower seeds. Not quite sure what I want to do with them yet but they seem like a good low-maintenance solution for filling in portions of the property that look empty.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garden State

Ever since I bought the house, I've been running through my head what I want to do with the property outside of the house. I pretty much decided that, with a few small exceptions, I wouldn't be touching any big landscaping projects for the first couple of years here - focus on the inside. However, there is a lot of opportunity here to do some amount of gardening.

Since it's been getting warmer, I've been looking at the yard and flower beds and thinking about what I could do with them. I'd really like to be able to get rid of the ornamental plants all around the house and find interesting, attractive, provisional plants to replace them with (in addition to having a traditional garden plot in the back corner of the back yard). I just recently bought a "Bucket O Seeds" - which has a ton of different types of heirloom garden seeds.

Front Yard
  • There is a bed the runs the length of the retaining wall from the top of the stone steps to the end of the driveway. I am thinking that would be a good spot for a line of blueberry bushes with creeping strawberries to act as a cover fill.
  • Around the boulder in the front yard, I am considering some sort of thorn berry. Either Raspberries or Blackberries. I prefer Blackberries, but Raspberries are less vicious with their thorns so that may be the deciding factor.
  • The brick steps at the end of the retaining wall either need to be torn up or turned into a planter bed. Not really sure what I'd want to go in there, but a low growing herb that obeys boundaries might be a good idea there.
  • The beds directly in front of the house are probably going to remain untouched. There are several big rhododendrons along with some sort of ivy covering the ground. I would like the ground cover there to be something other than the ivy but I am not sure what would be good.
  • The "Heart Shaped" bed at the end of the driveway is another mystery. It has a tree at the end but I am not sure why type - we'll see what it flowers with. I wouldn't mind getting a fruit bearing tree in there - would be nice to have apples at the end of the drive. For ground cover, was thinking of some sort of flower mixture but again, if I can get something there that bears fruit, I would prefer it.
  • The back right corner of the back yard is going to be the "official" garden plot where I'll be planting various veggies. It gets a lot of sun, so I'll have to be careful about not planting some of the more light/heat sensitive stuff back there.
  • The back line of the property would also be a decent place to plant some grapes. Get some trellis for them to grow on and get the potential benefit of them acting as a privacy screen at the back of the property.
  • My next door neighbor warned me that he's spotted woodchucks in both his and my backyard in the past, so I'll have to keep an eye out for them.

Nothing like a New Chimney

It's been over a month now since the contractors came and repaired my chimney. They did a great job of it and were, happily, very unobtrusive about it. Even when I was here while they were working, noise was minimal and anything that needed clean up was localized.

Now, the chimney is nice and crisp looking and, most importantly, attached to the side of the house! As part of their work, the contractors replaced a handful of roof and siding shingles and then gave the entire exterior wall a wash and a fresh coat of stain/paint. It looks great.

As another plus - they brought a dumpster that they couldn't even begin to fill 1/10th of. This meant I got a free rubble run and was able to get rid of all the carpet and refuse from the bathroom that I had stored in the shed and what I had torn out of the living room up to that point. I got very close to filling the entire thing on my own.