Out in the Yard

I haven’t been posting much because… well, the weather changed! Little by little, I am turning our dreams into reality and fixing up our own yard. We don’t have lots of cash to pay for labor and materials, seeing as I just finished school and we only started taking clients just a few weeks ago, but I’m not letting that stop me!

The first order of business was getting vegetable garden and work area in the back yard cleaned up. I decided to start on this area rather than the more visible front yard for a few reasons:

  • The neighbors in the flag lot next door need screening. Their back porch looks into our kitchen, they smoke and fight out there, and their vicious dog barks at us through the fence. We don’t want to watch their drama any more!
  • It’s growing time, and we needed more space for all the veggie starts we had coming!
  • The weeds in the former driveway were out of control, and I’d learned the hard way that it didn’t make sense to try growing anything else there.

Before!

Before!

I had planned to rent a Bobcat and do it myself, but the night before, I saw my across-the-street neighbor scraping his driveway with a Bobcat! He was happy to split the rental fee and scrape my drive, too. So I spent the evening pulling up the nicest weeds for the chickens and rabbits, and the next morning he came over and took care of the rest. We added the soil that got scraped off to our chicken yard and his bramble pile! Keeping “waste” on site and making use of it is important to me not only from the labor and cost perspectives, but also because of the environmental impact!

Next I had a load of 3/4 minus gravel delivered, then raked it out and compacted it with a vibratory plate from my new favorite tool rental place, Bob’s Snowboard and Ski Shop (that’s where the Bobcat came from, too). It’s not the prettiest surface, but it’s practical, easy to maintain, and cheap. Since we are always building things, running the wheelbarrow back and forth, and the space may eventually get used as a driveway again, it made sense.

Bamboo Beds

Bamboo Beds

Of course, you can’t just plant in gravel, and we still needed to screen our view of the neighbors. TinyHands and I found an ad on Craig’s List from Building Material Recycling for reclaimed lumber and went out to Sherwood to check it out. We were able to get enough untreated, reclaimed cedar to build three 8 x 2 x 1.5 planters for bamboo to go along the fence, as well as three new raised beds for the garden. I stocked up on my favorite self-tapping deck screws and torque bits from Do It Best! Beaumont Hardware on NE Freemont and got to work. Once they were built, I lined them with old landscape fabric to help prevent soil coming out from the cracks and the bamboo rhizomes looking for daylight. We’ll be getting our bamboo in the next couple days!

Tomatoes, Asparagus, and Raspberries

Tomatoes, Asparagus, and Raspberries

I had enough soil and compost from our back yard to fill up one of the annual vegetable beds, but the asparagus beds were only half-full, and the bamboo beds needed soil. I decided to try Dean Innovations. Their delivery cost for small orders is pretty high, but their products are top notch! I got the Premium Portland Blend for the bamboo, and the Stinky Bull (which didn’t stink!) to mix into the asparagus beds. They have certified organic, locally sourced soil, compost, and stone. The products are screened really nicely. So far it seems this is truly the best soil I’ve ever had delivered.

I’m still waiting on fresh mulch for the garden paths – we usually get tree trimmings from Pacific Power or Wind Thin. The wood chips take a long time to break down, but you don’t have a lot of control over when they’ll arrive or what kind of wood it will be. So for the time being, the paths are just bare dirt.

Lily in the Grass

Lily in the Grass

Add to all this a whole lot of weeding out front, and some play time on our newly-established lawn, and, well, the computer time just hasn’t been happening lately! However, our peas are still producing like mad, we have kale, broccoli, and beets galore, and the cabbage, beans, basil, and tomatoes are all looking like it’ll be a good year. The raspberries are a bit late, but the few we’ve had have been delicious. You can see more pictures on our facebook page!

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