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February Gardening

It’s been quite a while, so I have way more than a month’s worth of changes to the back yard to talk about.

First off, two of my neighbors got motivated about replacing our shared fence line, so we took the opportunity to remove the overgrown yuccas that were pushing the fences over and threatening the power lines. The back yard is really almost too sunny in the summer now, but the removal of the yuccas did reveal some pretty birch(?) trees that I didn’t even know existed in my neighbor’s yard. We’re vaguely discussing possible replacement trees, but it’s not a high priority. Here’s how that corner looks now, though the neighbor’s trees are boring and leafless at the moment:

No more yuccas

My raised veggie garden beds were over on the opposite side of the house from the chicken coop, but we’ve been slowly moving them over, along with the compost pile. It allows more flexibility in moving the temporary chicken fence so I can let them in and around the beds if I want, and also means less walking to toss the old chicken bedding in the compost. Also, this side of the house is much more visible from the kitchen and dining room windows, so the garden is less likely to suffer from my “out of sight, out of mind” forgetfulness.

New garden box location

So far I’ve just started planting in the 6’x3′ box, (spinach, cilantro, carrots, bunching onions) and also put in some bare root strawberry plants in the long skinny box. I’m hoping to make two 3’x3′ boxes for tomatoes and basil, we’ll see how that goes. The oregano plant I got last year survived my neglect, so I moved it to a big pot that I had available. The parsley that I put in the ground last year (near the rosemary) limped along all summer then went crazy once it started raining. I’m going to plant some more next month, but I’m hoping after that it’ll just self-seed.

Parsley

The dwarf citrus trees that I got last March (one each of navel orange, lemon, and lime) are doing okay.  They’re still in their original tubs… the pots I had procured are still too big I think. I guess I should revisit the pots this year, maybe I can buy an in-between size and hopefully not kill them off.

Potted Citrus

The front yard is still in a holding pattern. I’ve done my best to let the grass die, but it doesn’t make sense to do anything fancy until our theoretical renovation to the house actually happens. It looks like we got a bunch of volunteer poppies that presumably blew in from the neighbor’s yard, so maybe I’ll weed around them and try to encourage them along.

 

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March Gardening

Probably the biggest thing that’s been happening this month in the garden and the yard is weeding. Boring. The weeds have been growing like crazy, but since I have a pretty thick layer of mulch nearly everywhere that isn’t grass, most of the weeds have really shallow roots. So I’ve been able to pull a few square feet almost every day whenever I have a few spare minutes. I think this is the first year where I’ve managed to deal with most of the weeds before they went to seed. Maybe that means there will be fewer weeds next year? Haha I can dream.

I haven’t done anything other than weed control in the front yard, since we have hopes of tearing up and re-landscaping this year sometime. But even with my neglect, the alyssum and lavender went ahead and did their thing:

Alyssum and lavender

I’m trying out leaving weeds where I pulled them if they haven’t gone to seed, as a little free mulch. You can see them strewn about in the photo above. We’ll see how that goes.

Also in the front yard, my neighbor has awesome poppies growing like crazy in the patch of earth between the sidewalk and the curb. And a few volunteers have taken hold in my patch! I don’t quite have the energy to pull up the grass completely, but I’m keeping it short and trying to give the poppies an advantage. My section is in the foreground, my neighbor’s is in the background:

poppies

The rest of the front yard is… green for now.

Green

But over half of it is just weeds, since we didn’t water at all last summer and a lot of the grass died. The weeds are still mow-able, but at the moment they’re growing faster than grass, so I have to mow a lot to keep things under control. Once things heat up this summer it should all turn brown and dead again. We haven’t replaced it yet because we’re hoping to hire some folks to do a big renovation on the house soon that probably involves construction equipment. And that equipment will presumably need to drive over the front yard. So for now I’m just trying to keep the house visible behind the weeds. 🙂

Moving on to the back yard, please notice the lack of weeds:

garden sans weeds

For comparison, in past years this has looked a bit like a field of mature wheat by the time I get around to hacking it all down. Progress! The fabric over the bigger garden box is there because I just transplanted my broccoli seedlings, and I read a suggestion to use a floating row cover for a few days after transplanting, so we’ll see how this goes. The smaller garden box has almost everything transplanted now, though they’re all still pretty small:

garden box

I haven’t actually used mulch in the boxes before, but it seems like an obvious way to conserve a little water. We’ll see how this straw works out.

Oh! And I bought some dwarf fruit trees! I’m going to grow them in containers. Or possibly they’ll all die. Hopefully if they do they’ll die within a year so I can return them and try again. 🙂 I got one each of orange, lemon, lime, and avocado:

Fruit trees

And I bought those big plastic containers, got home, and read that you shouldn’t put small citrus trees in big containers. Sigh. So for now I’m keeping them in their original black containers that they came in. I did pot up the avocado (the one on the top left by itself in the picture) because it’s a bit bigger and was looking kinda sad after a week in its original container. I’ve been checking the soil regularly with a cheap moisture meter to hopefully not overwater these guys. I’m probably damaging the roots because I’m checking the moisture level so often, but I’m hoping it’s worth it to get a feel for this sort of thing as a newbie, even if I kill a few plants off. 🙂

one last picture, I made an outdoor mini greenhouse/cold frame thing:

cold frame

My seedlings are all doing pretty well in there, so now I’m back to just starting seeds in the garage, then moving them out here. I’ll do a separate post on how I put this together.