Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sifting the Yard

As mentioned previously, we encountered a significant challenge as we began preparing our chosen ground for our new vegetable garden. That challenge was a substantial layer of solid pea gravel, hidden beneath several inches of beautiful yet deceptive garden soil.

Naturally, our first reaction was disappointment, as expressed by my pouting and Mulch Boy's insistence that we might as well quit because obviously we could never grow anything here.

Insert copious profanity here.

But we are resilient people. Or stubborn. Perhaps Mulch Boy was inspired by the sight of his wife sitting in the giant hole that was meant for our garden.

I'm just sitting in this hole. #glamorshot

In any case, in short order Mr. "It Can't Be Done" was googling the interwebs, and soon he had devised A Cunning Scheme. One trip to the Dee-Pot, a two-by-four, some metal mesh, and a staple gun later and behold! The Garden Sifter was born!

Mulch Boy demonstrates his invention,.

So yeah, we're sifting the garden. This is every bit as tedious as you might imagine. Our best estimate is that it will take 900,000 years.

Do your job.

It works, though, freakishly well.  In the pictures above, we were sifting directly into the garden, and then dumping the gravel onto the porch. There is a lot of gravel on the porch. Meanwhile, we pitch the bigger rocks into a pile by Muriel.

That's just the big rocks we've sifted, and we've barely
sifted 10 percent. The porch is covered in pea gravel.
Muriel can barely contain her excitement.

And so there we are. If/when we ever DO finish this task, we are going to have the best by-golly garden patch that ever was. We may be too arthritic by that time to actually plant anything, but at least we'll have the pride that goes with a job well done. Or whatever.


Vegetable Garden: Ha ha ha ha ha!

This is our first Spring in our Bigger Blue House here in New England, and so we face many firsts, one of which is starting a vegetable garden. We haven't gardened in two whole years, and Mulch Boy and I are anxious to get back to farming. The immediate challenges:

  1. Locating the best spot for the vegetable garden
  2. Preparing the location
  3. Figuring out the differences between gardening in Virginia versus Up Here
Finding The Best Spot turned out to be easy: it's right by the porch in the back yard, where Muriel the Naked Lady resides. Hours and hours of sunny sun make this plot ideal. As you can see in the first picture, there was already a bed built there--inconveniently covered in big white gravel, but still. Sandwiched between the cellar door and the porch, it's a well defined area that also could be easily expanded to twice the size by extending it to the edge of the porch. To work!

1. Take up that dumb gravel!

Bottom. Hands off, Muriel.

Mulch boy, triumphant.
2. Expand that bed!

Originally, the plot ended by the shovel on the left.

Getting bigger.
Getting bigger...
3. Dig in deep!

Dug in!
There's just one problem.

Awesome! Can you tell how dark and rich this soil is? We live near the confluence of two rivers, and the soil is definitely the beneficiary. People warned me about clay up here, but I laugh -- HA HA! -- at their concern. We've dug 18 inches down and not a speck of clay. (You may recall in Virginia that it was, essentially, all clay, plus whatever compost we personally mixed in.) It's too easy! This feels like cheating! This is going to be the best garden ever!

There's only one problem, not visible from this picture: pea gravel. 

So yes, we (meaning Mulch Boy) dug down 18 inches. And yes, the soil is sweet and dark and wormy and perfect. However, 4 inches down we (he) struck pea gravel. As in, an inches-deep layer of solid pea gravel. What th--?

Seriously. No one loves rocks more than I do. One of the joys of this yard is all the rocks. So many big wonderful rocks! I even like pea gravel--it's pretty! But why, why, why bury a giant layer of it?

We have theories. One is a long-ago patio of gravel. Another is a long-ago extended graveled bed. Perhaps purposely covered over with soil, perhaps buried by years of neglected leaves. I previously discovered a buried section of brick sidewalk in our front yard, so this is not our first archaeological experience here. Still, it brought things to a halt while we pondered a solution to the problem of how to turn the gravel quarry into a usable garden patch. After initially declaring it impossible, Mulch Boy of course came up with a solution.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

And then there was mulch. Now you're caught up!

So far I've done the entire front yard, and I've barely used half of the 3 cubic yards of mulch I had dumped in the driveway. Mulch Madness is not going to be nearly the chore it was in Virginia!

POW! Also, creeping phlox for Mulch Boy.
Mulch: instant fancy. The perennials I put in last fall are already up and running!
Maybe "fancy" isn't the right word. Cleaner? Brighter?
This is Crappy Corner, looking way better thanks to MULCH.

And then I was left unsupervised at the garden center

They were 4 for $10.

Margaret rejoices in my purchases.

Seriously, she totally loves Spring planting.

And then I remembered I planted 230 bulbs last fall

The first!

First daffies!

First BIG daffy!

Here they come in front

The long view

Hyacinths: the smell of Spring

Tulip bliss

Interim Bed Picture

It is sad to neglect things.  Your yard. Your blog. But sometimes a person gets busy.  So get over it!

ANYWAY. These pictures are from last fall (2015), after the first weeding at The Bigger Blue House and the installation of some perennials. The pictures are terrible, but they are HISTORY. And I have new pictures that look even nicer compared to these crappy pics. And so....

Side of the house, with transplanted (pampas?) grass.
Front bed near the street.

Same bed, close to front steps.
Other front bed, other side of front steps.
Same bed, by the walkway, with Margaret the T-Rex.