Needless to say, when we moved into our house I had no idea what any of the plant life in the yard was. I barely knew what a dandelion was. In fact if pressed I would probably have pointed to a daisy and called it a dandelion. Ok, maybe not, but I certainly had no idea that the purple and white striped flowers along our new walkway, that bloomed when the snow had barely melted were crocuses. And I consistently brought about the giggles from my mother when constantly forgetting what tulips and daffodils were and which were which. I have to thank the woman who lived in my house previously, though. Without her prolific flower planting and my constant curiosity I would still barely know the difference between a tulip and a daffodil and crocuses could be some weird bird or insect I had never heard of. Which brings me to the start of this blog.
It's too bad that I am not a picture person, or a journal or record keeping person. But that's the goal of starting this blog now. For all that to change. It's too bad because I have owned my house for nearly two and a half years now and so much work has been done to it already that I would have like to have a better record of. Happily the house has come a long way, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
My boyfriend and I moved into this house in October of 2008. I've had many goals that have failed to come to fruition in my life, but I was determined to buy a home before I turned thirty. In subsequent years I've realized my haste was poorly timed, as seems to be the case with most things that I rush into, which is the only way I seem to know how to approach life. Of course, as I get older, I think I am learning that patience is a virture. However, in hindsight, if i had waited to buy a house by a couple more years I might have come out with a bit more land, and a garage...and possibly more sq footage, but that's not too important to me.
As it stands, I required two beds, one bath, and attic for future expansion, a basement we could turn into an office/wreck room, and a decent size back yard. This is exactly what I got. At the time I had hoped to one day turn the attic into a bedroom, build a garage on a pre-existing slab, and have a small garden to feed me through the warmer months.
One day the attic may be a master with a nursery on the end. Soon I will also have that small garden (though not as small as I had originally thought). The garage, as it turns out, is not to be, as the slab is right up to the edge of the property line and easement codes would not be met. The basement has been turned into an excellent office with a den complete with 5 ft projector screen for movies! We would like to add a second bath down in the basement and then it would be complete.
In the first year we moved in I had grand plans of a remodeled kitchen and bathroom but, alas, we ran out of budget. However, during that first winter we repainted the entire interior. We pulled up the old, pissed on, carpets and refinished the original hardwood floors underneath (which currently need a little re-touching in the living room). In the spring we bought three baby chicks and built a beautiful chicken coop. I will try to post pictures of the coop in posts to come. That first year I bought the willow tree I always said I would have once I owned my own home. I also planted a wisteria tree and a hybrid 5 fruit tree. My house also came with cute little window boxes that I attempted to plant flowers in. We added to the windows working shutters to keep the western summer sun out as, until the willow tree grows, we currently have no shade from the afternoon summer heat.
That summer we decided to use the now useless slab, which could not house a garage, and built a pergola to put his grandparents unwanted hot tub under. The original idea was to grow grapevines from the pergola, but I've since realized there's not enough sun to that part of the yard, so I will find some shade loving vines instead. That following winter, my boyfriend bought me a greenhouse for valentines day which I couldn't wait to use. I started seeds in early March and transplanted in April. What a great year to take up gardening... I thought I was the worst new gardener alive. Until we started walking our dogs around the neighborhood, which is full of backyard (or frontyard) gardens. All looking very similar to my miserable mess. As it turns out it was a bad planting season for all. Yay!
Summer of 2010 was the summer of rain barrels and the new deck. And my introduction into eco friendly, or green, building. We installed rain barrels at the ends of our three downspouts. The deck is not so green, but while designing the deck I was trying to fit a shed into the picture. Not wanting to see and asphalt roof while sitting out and bbq'ing I decided to research living roofs. In researching living roofs I came across the "Hobbit House" (http://www.simondale.net/house/) which instilled a desire in me to build a straw bale or cob house and has started me on a new journey to eventually own a few acres and attempt a permaculture lifestyle. Which in turn has inspired me to do as much natural living as I can with my current 1/8 of a city acre. Needless to say, after building our deck and moving on to our shed, we scoured craigslist for free pallets and built the entire shed from used pallets using our old backyard gate for the door. This has led to us dubbing the shed "The Pallet Shed". We have yet to finish the roof and siding, but the plan is to cover the pallets with pond liner, some hay, a little dirt, and start planting some herbs and flowers up there. The perfect place for herbs as it's right outside the kitchen door.
At some point in 2010 I planted cherry trees. The smallest got attacked by, I presume, peach tree bores. It's currently still alive, but if it gets attacked this year it will have to be replaced. This year we also dug out a pond in the back yard and discovered where our backyard down spout drains to. It put a small cramp in our pond plans, but we've decided to put an island in the middle of the pond to compensate. Pictures of this also to come. In the autumn with our first heavy rain we lost our green house. The rain busted through the plastic roof after it had been frying in the sun all summer. We plan to build a new one out of cob and glass either this year or next. In December I decided I wanted to keep bees. At this point I have bought the first hive (We'll use this as a template for the rest of them) and I'm just waiting for warmer weather to paint the new hive in anticipation of my bees which arrive in April.
So far this year, I've nearly completed our new raised garden beds and today I planted some yellow climbing roses and pink jasmine by the porch, which I'm excited to watch the growing process of through pictures in this blog. I also planted two wine grapevines and two table grapevines. We've utilized some of the bamboo we chopped back last season for the vines to use as trellises.
Grapevine planted and mulched
Pink jasmine ready for spring to come