Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Garden Project

I have a large backyard.  I love it.  Plenty of room to run, play, relax and dream.  We enjoy being in it all summer long.  However, we don't take very good care of it.  As we speak the city weed patrol is probably drafting a letter telling us to take care of the dandelions in our yard.  Yes the weed patrol exists.  Yes we have recieved letters from them before. 

We inherited some gardens from the previous owners.  They liked to garden and grew lots of veggies and flowers.  We have mainly let them get taken over with weeds and mow them down to mimic the look of grass.  There is one spot where some issues came up and because of the uneven ground we can't mow it down so it just grows tall lush weeds all summer long.  Luckily it is in the back corner so it doesn't bug us too much but our alley neighbors probably wish we would take care of it.  They always seem exicted when they see us trying to do something with the area.

The "prairie restoration project" as we affectionately call it.  The city didn't seem to agree and before we put up the fence got a letter telling us our weeds were too tall.  Keep in mind I took this picture today and it is only May.

We also have a smal garden right by the house.  The hostas grow thick each year and are well beyond the need to be split but I wouldn't know what to do if I did split them so I just let the thick clumps of hostas continue to grow.  Some falls I cut all the dead hostas out and other years I leave them and just let the new hosta grow over the old hosta in the spring.  That was my approach this year.

A few years ago I was feeling ambitious and planted a few perinials in the garden spot in front of the hostas.  They are all growing amazingly well considering the lack of attention I give them.  Then last fall I planted some tulip and hyacin bulbs which I have been enjoying during this early spring season we were having here in MN.  Of course I am pretty sure I planted alot more bulbs than I have flowers but I did get enough that I am optimistic about future years.

My tulips, the hyacins in front have already started to die.  Do I have to go pick them now?
One of the perinials I planted years ago.  I have no idea what it is but it flowers nicely each year.

Another flowering perinial I planted that flowers nicely and I have no idea what it is.  There is also a little clump of some sort of iris to the right of this flower that I didn't photograph because it isn't flowering yet and another plant that flowers nicely in the fall.  In the middle of all these flowers is a blank spot begging for more perinials.  And, as you can see, some weeding to be done.

So that is where my gardening skills have taken me in the nearly 8 years we have owned this home.  Every year I think I am going to pull it together and get this yard shaped up.  I am going to keep up with the weeds in both the grass and the garden.  We are going to do something about the spot in the back and every year I imagine I will plant some veggies despite never doing so before.  Other people love to garden, if I just had a little knowledge couldn't I?

So that is what I am going to try to get this summer.  A little knowledge.  I have talked to a few gardener friends and they all say you just have to go for it.  Gardening is all about trial and error.  Well that pretty much summarizes my philosphy of life so I should be a master gardener in no time.

Last fall I talked with a friend who suggested that if I really wanted to plant a garden this spring I should put down a board or tarps or something so that the grass would be dead come spring and I wouldn't have as much work preparing a spot.

So I did that.  I did peak a couple weeks ago and sure enough there is black dirt under there, but now I am afraid to move forward.

After a spectacular April the weather has been terrible the past couple weeks but there is promise of improvement starting this weekend.  I figure there is no time like the present and nothing like a little accountability to keep a person motivated so my plan is to give you my weekly progress report this summer on how my garden is growing.

Things you might look forward to reading about:

  • What I will plant in that veggie garden.  It is rather small, one of my friends said it was only big enough for one tomato plant.  It is a little bigger than that but not much.  That is about all I can mange at this stage of the game.

  • Pruning.  We have lots of bushes that haven't really been trimmed since my sister and brother-in-law were in town a few years ago and helped us out.  It looked great then.  Hopefully I can just follow the pattern they started.

  • Killing the dandelions.  We are going to try to do it ourselves this year.  We usually hire a service every 2-3 years. They seem to be contained for a couple years and then get out of control again.  This time we are going to try a little DIY of the weed and feed.

  • Weeding the gardens.  I hear you need to do it more than once.

  • Moving some of the perinials and splitting the hostas.

  • The never ending battle of the sprinkler system.  We have one.  It has never worked in 8 years.  John has replaced pretty much all the valves and several sections of hose.  We have a new control panel ready to install.  Maybe this year we can get partial usage?

  • The answer to how to deal with our prairie restoration project.  We are leaning toward just scraping it off and turning it into a parking pad for John's work van.  Of course that will cost money...

  • And speaking of money.  We will be painting the outside of the house this summer.  If it means we have to start eating 2 meals a day instead of 3 or I have to walk everywhere and not buy gas.  Whatever sacrifice it takes will not be too great to see my house painted this summer!

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