A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Garden Pictures and Future Plans - Part 1 of 2

In theory this blog is supposed to be about gardening and homesteading and Idaho (formerly North Dakota) and deaf dogs. The deaf dogs aspect has been really all we've written about for months now, with only sporadic postings on other topics.

Why, you may ask? As we settle into our routines, get used to new jobs, and unpack the house (yes lots of stuff is still in boxes), it's much easier to post a cute picture of Shaak Ti or Shadowfax asleep in front of the fire than draft a substantive post on plants or gardening. Plus we moved last year right in the middle of Summer (aka Gardening Season) and didn't have much of a garden at the new homestead. So we'll start to right that ship now.

The new gardening area of the homestead has a lot of positive aspects going or it. The previous homeowner(s) did a fine job establishing the "bones" of the yard; some hardscape, layout, irrigation, paths, garden beds. There are some things that I might have done differently due to personal taste, but nothing that is shockingly "OMG, I've got to change that now". There are several nice big rocks/small boulders placed throughout the yard too, which is another unique element of visual interest that I probably wouldn't have done on my own, but truly enjoy.

As an aside, if you really want to see some rocks and boulders, check out my blogging friend Karen and her site Quarry Garden Stained Glass.
One minor annoying thing is that there is landscaping fabric everywhere - in all the garden beds. It's used to suppress weeds, but it really only suppresses some weeds and only for a little while. And while it allows water and some nutrients to penetrate down to the roots of plants, it interrupts the natural cycling through of tiny critters, microorganisms, and breakdown of organic material to create good healthy soil. I am not a fan of landscaping fabric.

So how to approach a brand new almost-blank canvas of a yard and garden? Numerous moves over the years have taught me that patience is key to understanding a new garden area. In a perfect world I could watch for a full year to figure out where the sun shines during different seasons, where the water collects, what are all the pros/cons of the space I have, and what areas are shady/sunny, hot/cool, dry/damp, etc. Since successful gardening boils down to putting the right plant in the right place, it's critical to know the attributes of the different places in the garden.

This is all well and good and rational, but insanely hard to do when you have strong urges to plant pretty flowers and other cool stuff. The key for me is to remember that it took 5-6 years in North Dakota before the garden was just how I wanted it, and even then there was a lot of stuff to fix,  change, and make more awesome. It will take a similar amount of time here. Slow incremental change and consistent effort has a big cumulative effect.

Along with patience, I have a strong urge to not do things over and over, or move plants (or worse - hardscape materials) repeatedly. For things that are big, heavy, or difficult to move, I'm a fan of "think it through, do it once, do it right". Thoughtful planning, visualizing, and thinking are keys for me before a shovel touches the soil. For me the priorities for moving into a new place and starting a garden look like this:

1 - Safe and secure backyard for the dogs, big permanent fencing.
2 - Hardscape - patios, paths, compost bins, raised garden beds.
3 - Large plants - fruit trees, ornamental trees, large shrubs, movable fencing. These plants may start small, but will become larger over time.
4 - Other plants - annuals, smaller perennials, vegetables. Also potted plants and hanging baskets. Pretty much all the fun stuff.

Priority number one was taken care of before the dogs even got here. Some fence folks came and worked on a whole section of fence, repaired some areas, changed the two gates, and made the yard secure for the pups. As you can see from the list, you have to wade through some un-fun things before you get to the fun stage of planting pretty flowers and veggies. And the categories aren't for the entire yard at once. If I get the hardscape and garden beds completed in one area, I can start planting it.

Below is our garden in North Dakota. You have to create the raised garden bed first before you can fill it with pretty flowers. Movable fencing is the temporary and movable fencing around the perimeter of the garden bed. Various forms of movable or semi-permanent fencing are used to keep bunnies from munching flowers, or dogs from marauding through the vegetable garden. 
In the front yard at the new house, we needed to create new raised flower beds to fill up with pretty flowers. But...we couldn't determine where the flower beds should go until we first made a walkway in the front yard from the street up to the front door. Oddly enough our house doesn't have a front walk, just grass from the street up to the door.
A late Springtime picture of our new house from last year. Note that there's no walkway up to the front door. We've fixed that and had a new paver stone walkway installed. And apparently I have some pent up gardening writing as this post has already gotten too long. So we're going to break it up into two parts. Part 2 shall include pictures of the new walkway and shall arrive soon!

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