Just harvested the last of the worthwhile basil.  I kind of knew that if you pinched of basil it would still keep growing, but I was scared so I didn’t do as much pinching as I should have.  Now I see that if I’d really pinched often I’d have ended up with a few really robust plants rather than a bunch of puny twiggy plants.  So next year I will do that . . . fewer plants, more pinching.

Updated my dreams/to-do list.  Yippee.

There are a lot of areas I’d like to plant up next spring, which would mean lots of sheet mulching this fall.  The gap between the fence and the retaining wall, the boulevard, a sunny mixed vegetable-flower bed up on the top of the wall in the front yard, the alley . . . . and now is the time to be sheet mulching these areas.  But what if spring comes and it’s too much?  What if I don’t want to or don’t get around to doing it all?  Then what?  But it’s such an opportunity to have the leaf mulch break down over the winter and improve our crappy soil . . . however, if I don’t end up doing a lot with those spaces in the spring and all I did was kill the grass, DH will be pissed.

In priority order, the spaces would be:

  1. Alley
  2. Upper yard bed
  3. Gap bed between fence and wall
  4. Boulevard

In fact, the boulevard could wait.  I am not as pumped about it and it feels like overkill.  On the upper yard, I could manage the quantity of work by first starting out with a portion of the yard and seeing how it goes.  Like a 4×8 area rather than the entire section.  I really do want to sheet mulch that area, though, because I feel like if I just plant plants in among the existing grass then that grass will just turn itself into an unwanted later on.  It’s better to dispense with it and let it build soil quality as it decomposes and then mulch, I think.

Alley, oh alley.  DH did’t want the plastic and rock to come up because of drainage issues.  However, the rock is full of weeds and so it is clear that something has to happen back there, and he acknowledges that.  But what if my idea of how to do it (sheet mulch and mulch thick with wood chips, use containers for some plants and plant the rest away from the garage) doesn’t deal with the drainage issues or even makes them worse?  Our garage was kind of a swamp and I think it was things like gutters and fans that improved the situation rather than the plastic and rock, although maybe that made a difference at the time of installation.

So basically, DH has kind of turned over the yard to me, and I don’t want to screw it up for him!  Eekers.

Where the areas in question sit on our lot

Where the areas in question sit on our lot

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.