The tomatoes are ripening, thank God!  It’s only been three weeks since they formed!

The site of our future mini raingarden

The site of our future mini raingarden

I have been thinking raingarden.  My last post was about ideas for where to put one.  Well, today I got a call in to Gopher State One Call to mark the utilities in the little triangle at the corner of our lot.  We are going to try a mini one there.  That way I can learn about how to do the infiltration test, etc. and do the whole thing on a mini scale before proposing a big fat huge grant project to the watershed district.  It will be a trial.

The space between the fence and the retaining wall will become a perennial garden

The space between the fence and the retaining wall will become a perennial garden

We got our fence!!!!  Yipppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Now we get to think of what to plant in the annoying section between the retaining wall and the fence.  We knew we wanted the fence higher up on the yard because of the dog’s unpredictability.  We didn’t want some small hand to become lunch.  But now it creates a planting opportunity.  At first I thought shrubs, now am thinking perennial garden because of staining issues.  That way when we need to stain the fence we can get at it in the spring before things start to grow or even tramp it down in the fall when all is done.  With shrubs, we won’t be able to get in there.  But I do want to incorporate some shrubs somewhere, especially berries for birdies to munch on and maybe for us to munch.

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I am hot and heavy into Gaia’s Garden right now and there was one section I thought deserved further reflection.  The author, Toby Hemenway, outlines an “ecological design process” involving the following steps:

  1. Observation
  2. Visioning
  3. Planning
  4. Development
  5. Implementation.

I am totally in observation and maybe in visioning, and that’s good.  When I set my goal earlier this summer on 43 Things to “Make our yard a place we love to be while not bite off more than I can chew,” I knew that I needed to take this summer not to get too eager but rather to figure out the eccentricities of the yard, particularly the light situation.  I knew this wasn’t the summer to be putting in shrubs or trees, etc., or spending tons of money on perennials (plus I’m cheap 😉 ).  We knew we wanted a fence and so that is going in soon!  Once that’s done we can do a lot more visioning, or dreaming.

The other morning during a hard rain I got a chance (finally!) to go outside and observe how the water flowed on our property.  It was interesting to note what was going on.  Rain puddled in areas I didn’t know it would, and that gives me some ideas for making mini rain gardens or mulch basins or something to store that in the soil rather than having it run off.  Particularly along the edge of the boulevard, the rain gushed along that grass and ran off.  If we kind of sank that edge down and made a mini swale and berm type system, or even some raingardens (I once read a raingarden shouldn’t be located in a boulevard, but have also heard it’s fine, so not sure – but we are going to a class on raingardens in a few weeks!).

I am also visioning (dreaming) a lot about next year’s garden, particularly the edible portions.  Berries on the back of the garage, shrubs (hopefully also with berries for the birdies) along our new fence, using our vertical space better and also our sunny front yard for something other than grass, how to best (and legally) use the boulevard, since we’re on a corner lot and it comprises a lot of our surface area, what kind of soil amendments would be the best to do this year to make some of this a possibility for next year.  Lots to think about!

I will tag my entries according to these phases of the ecological design process to help myself organize these thoughts.

I don’t have photos right now, but in keeping with the journaling idea of this blog, I’m going to make a little update anyway.

  1. Hostas: Added several lovely hostas to the back bed, the one I sheet mulched a few weeks ago.  Three are ones with huge leaves, like elephant ears.  I hadn’t planned to use this bed this year, but needed a place for these beauties, so broke down and did it.  The layers of this bed are decomposing nicely, though I have doubted my wisdom in using the wood chips.  They will take a long time to decompose.  On the plus side, they will help the soil stay loose as well as retain moisture throughout the soil.  So while I don’t think they are bad, I think I will try to stay away from them in the future, at least as a layer.  Maybe they’d be best only as a topper.  Of course, my dream is to get it to the point where you don’t care what your top mulch looks like because the plants are so thick in the beds you can’t see it anyway.
  2. Rock edging:  My parents found a rock pile on their property and we are the lucky recipients.  Woohoo!  So now a full quarter of a bed is edged off 😉  Maybe in the fall when the crops are done we can steal some from by my aunt and uncle’s property.
  3. (Drum roooooooooooooll please) Fence!!!!:  We paid for a fence today to be installed by September.  It will be a four-foot high semi-private fence.  We (especially our dog) are very excited.  I would love to line both sides with shrubs, especially shrubs that make berries for birds, or berries for us.
  4. Reading:  Of course, I continue to read.  In addition to the reviews I’ve already posted, I’m now on Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.
  5. Dreaming: The alley really bothers me.  It is horribly ugly, but we have moisture problems in our garage, so hubby is less than enthusiastic about ripping up the plastic and rock he installed.  Dreaming of berry bushes for next year.